Brique House is the story of two guys - Baptiste Dufossez and Joseph Timmermans, who, in 2020 – that is, in the middle of a global pandemic – channeled their very generous helpings of local pride and imagination into the launch of a unique craft beer initiative in the northern region of France.
It started with a vision, which was to break with regional brewery traditions, and offer beer enthusiasts a completely different craft beer experience, in great surroundings. Rethinking beer recipes and flavors, Brique House has been committed to introducing new beer concepts, from brewhouse to taproom, but without completely losing its heritage. In fact, the brick in the Brique House logo is a tribute to the typical brickhouse buildings seen everywhere in the area of Lille, which the brewery has kept alive in the Brique House taprooms.
Today the Brique House craft beer range is rapidly expanding. The brewery launches experimental beers every month, and every three months customers get to vote a new beer into the permanent range. Brique House has also opened 3 Taprooms in Lille, St André-Lez-Lille and Villeneuve d'Ascq, and sells its beers online, so their unique brews are available to customers far and wide.
Wind back to 2020, and the team started the fledgling Brique House project small, with a manually controlled, 10 hl brewery setup in a rented space in Saint André Lez Lille. It was a resounding success. And soon after opening their doors, this first brewhouse in their taproom could not cope with fast-growing demand. The Brique House beers became so popular that long queues of people in front of the entrance became a regular sight.
So, in 2021 Brique House decided to establish a new brewery in a vacant warehouse located in the industrial city of Fretin, a suburb of Lille. They selected GEA as their partner for the hot block part of the new brewery, and by mid-2021 a contract had been signed to commission a fully automated 3-vessel brewhouse from the GEA CRAFT-STAR® product family, with a brewing capacity of 40 hl per brew.
The GEA CRAFT-STAR® XL configuration comprises mash tun, lauter tun and combination wort kettle and whirlpool, and is fully automated. The GEA CRAFT-STAR® is also the first brewhouse equipped with the GEA in-house automation system GEA Codex®, which calculates and sets process parameters for each recipe and process, to help improve reproducibility, further helping to optimize the use of energy, water and other resources, and maximize the value of ingredients.
We are moving to a new stage and we are going to produce on a different scale.- Joseph Timmermans, Co-founder Brique House Brewery
“Brique House had been struggling to meet demand,” said GEA’s project manager Christopher Sullivan. “We worked with them to design the best system for their needs today, that would also give them the flexibility to diversify and further grow. There was real pressure for the new brewery to be up and running as soon as possible, which would enable the company to branch out further afield. The GEA CRAFT-STAR® XL represented an ideal solution, giving Brique House great operation from day one, and the capacity for future expansion.”
Brique House selected GEA as its partner for the project on the basis of system quality, function and features, but also the great flexibility and knowledgebase of the GEA experts. “The Brique House team was also really impressed by some of the outstanding references from existing GEA customers in the region, and was able to visit a number of these sites,” explained Sullivan. “Our customers tell us that the level of reproducibility, and product quality they get from both our semi-automated and fully automated CRAFT-STAR® systems just can’t be matched by the manual systems that young craft breweries may start out with.”
At the end of November 2021 Joseph Timmermans travelled from Lille to Kitzingen to inspect the nearly completed GEA CRAFT-STAR® brewhouse in the GEA workshop in Kitzingen. His comment on surveying the new equipment “This is going to be my best Christmas present!”.
The GEA CRAFT-STAR® was finally shipped to Lille at the end of December 2021, and with various COVID-related delays successfully negotiated, the system was finally commissioned in April 2022.
It’s not surprising that COVID impacted on the component supply, and in particular some of the electrical components, Sullivan added. “The GEA CRAFT-STAR® systems are usually configured and tested at the GEA site in Kitzingen. This means that they can be shipped and effectively just hooked in to pipework, plugged into the utilities and services on site, and commissioned really quickly.” However, as he continued, “ .. with COVID impacting on component supply, and mindful that Brique House needed their new brewhouse to be up and running as soon as possible, we shipped the system to the Lille site prior to testing, and completed testing in situ. By being flexible we were able to deliver, install and commission the system with no major hiccups, and with as few delays as possible.
On June 23rd Joseph and Baptiste invited families, friends, and partners for the inauguration party of the new brewery in Fretin.
“Here we are. Two years after we launched Brique House,” said Joseph. A new Brewery. A new adventure begins today, with this new brewery. We are moving to a new stage and we are going to produce on a different scale. A huge “thank you” to all our partners and our relatives for their unfailing support.”