Former rail depot in Essen to become brewery


The government of Flanders and the EU are helping to fund the renovation of the turn-of-the century railway warehouse in Essen, set to become a brewery and tasting room

From tracks to tipple

Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois, who is also in charge of heritage matters, has announced funding of €3.3 million for the renovation of a former railway warehouse in Essen in the far north of Antwerp province. The building will be converted into a brewery.

In the 19th century, Essen was a key border post on the rail route from Antwerp to Roosendaal in the Netherlands, with a station, a customs post and quarantine facilities. The goods warehouse (pictured) was built at the turn of the century in neo-Renaissance style and was in use until 1975.

Finding a new purpose is the ideal way to breathe new life into a heritage location, Bourgeois said. “So the municipality went looking for a partner that would give the building a new function while respecting its industrial character.”

Rixt, a drinks wholesaler from Antwerp, will develop and run the brewery, with brewing to take place where the rails once were, and storage on the former platforms. The city of Essen will be in charge of the renovations, with the help of government funding.

According to Essen mayor Gaston Van Tichelt, there will also be a bar or restaurant included in the building, as well as a tasting room for visitors and office space.

The conversion will also receive EU funding under the Demi More project for energy efficiency, which support the use of sustainable and renewable energy in public heritage settings.

Photo courtesy Flanders Heritage Agency