Belgium/Italy: Caulier and Birra Toccalmatto join forces

Two craft breweries from Belgium and Italy have joined forces. Caulier Sugar Free, a Belgian marketing company, which licenses the production of Caulier beer, and Birra Toccalmatto from Fidenza near Parma, Italy announced a joint-venture amongst equals. Two years ago both breweries started a successful collaboration by jointly brewing two beers.

Birra Toccalmatto hasa production capacity of 20,000 hl but currently only brews about 5,000 hl of its own beers. Caulier sells about 10,000 hl of beer, with 6,000 hl being sold in Italy and the rest in Belgium. Before the new agreement, Cauliers beer was exclusively brewed by De Proefbrouwerij, a contract breweryin Lochristi near Ghent, Belgium.  After the installation of new fermenting tanks in the next months, production of Cauliers, which is sold in Italy, will be transferred to Birra Toccalmatto. De Proefbrouwerij will continue to brew 3-4,000 hl for the Benelux market.

In the new venture Bruno Carilli, founder and brewmaster of Birra Toccalmatto, will be responsible for the technical side of the business. Eric Coppieters, his Belgium partner is well known in the financial world and will be responsible for the international expansion of the business.

In 1991 Coppieters founded Deminor, according to the company’s website “the leading European company focusing on services in the field of minority shareholder engagement, investor protection, recovery of investment losses and corporate governance.” In 1999 he became major shareholder of Pain Quotidien, a bakery-restaurant group founded in Brussels in 1990. The group currently operates more than 220 bakery-restaurant locations worldwide in 18 countries.

In 2007 Coppieters bought the traditional Caulier beer brand and established the company Caulier Sugar Free S.A. The main idea was to produce beer without sweeteners, colorants and preservatives according to the original recipes from 1842. The beers were positioned as “low-calorie”, “diabetic” and “gluten free” to differentiate from other products in the market.  With Caulier, Coppieters tries to replicate the success of Pain Quotidien this time in the craft beer market.

The new partnership has the vision to brew its beers locally, close to the markets through three locations: Fidenza (Italy), Gent (Belgium) and Mexico.

Within the next  three years Coppieters and Carilli are planning to build a second brewery of an initial capacity of 10-20,000 hl around Brussels to serve the North-West part of Europe. Last year a license agreement has been signed with Mexican partners to develop the brands in Mexico and brew the beers locally. This brewery will also serve the United States and Canada.

Caulier has historical roots dating back to the nineteenth century. From 1842 until 1873 the Caulier family bought three breweries in Belgium and united them in 1888. In 1895, the name Brasserie Caulier was registered, with brewing operations and administration being in rue Henry in Brussels. In 1960, the brewery became SA Brasserie de Ghlin and moved to Ghlin, a village about 70 km southwest of Brussels, where a brand new brewery was erected. In the seventies, the brewery went bankrupt. Under the supervision of the Prime Minister Leburton, who wanted to protect the workers, Belgiums leading breweries, Brouwerij Artois, the Flemish brewers of Stella Artois and Walloon-based brewer Piedboeuf, brewer of Jupiller, were called in to set up a secret agreement to take over the brewery. The new partners formed SA Brassico and invested in Ghlin to produce the brand Jupiler 5. All but one brand of the former Brasserie Caulier was ceased.  After the merger of Artois and Piedboeuf in 1988, which was the founding stone of the world’s largest brewery which became later known as AB InBev, the two partners closed down the brewery in Ghlin in 1993.

Until 2007 the Caulier brand rights were held by Brasserie Caulier, a family owned craft brewery from Péruwelz, Belgium at the heart of Picard Wallonia. The latter brewery was reestablished in 1995 by Roger Caulier.  In 2007, this brewery went bankrupt and brands rights changed hands to Eric Coppieters, who founded the company Caulier Sugar Free.

The old Brasserie Caulier was rescued and operates again under the said name. Nowadays a team of 10 people produces about 10,000 hl of beer, which are sold under the brand names Bon Secours and Paix Dieu.

Caulier Sugar Free markets several lines of beer. Main brand is 28, an old brand from Caulier in Brussels, which used to be brewed with 28 kilograms of grain per hectoliter. Following the success of this beer Coppieters introduced in the last years a wide range of beers under the umbrella of the 28 brand .

The Caulier Traditional label refers to the historical labels and distinctive artifacts of the historical brand. It is a line of beers anchored in tradition and organic natural processes. This line is produced at De Proefbrouwerij using only natural ingredients.

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