Luxembourg beer that was festival hit will soon be available at local outlets
At last year’s Luxembourg Fest in Belgium, Bofferding beer, a handcrafted beer from Luxembourg, was sold for the first time in the United States.
The 1,250 bottles provided by Georges Lentz — chief executive officer of Brasserie Nationale, which produces the beer — sold out Saturday night. Those who came for Sunday’s festivities were disappointed.
“I got angry e-mails from people saying they drove 250 miles to get the beer,” Lentz said. “That won’t happen this year. We will have twice the amount.”
Although Bofferding is exported to France, Belgium and China, there was no distributor in the U.S. until now.
The beer will soon be carried by Larry’s Distributing in Sheboygan with a team from Ansay Development Corp. of Port Washington handling marketing and retail sales.
It will be a quiet entrance aimed at select restaurants and stores initially in Ozaukee County, then in other communities that have high concentrations of Luxembourg descendants.
“There are more Luxembourgers in the United States than in Luxembourg,” Lentz said. “So many people left my country in the mid-1800s because they were starving.”
Lentz, a member of the Luxembourg American Cultural Society, said he only goes into new markets where he has a personal connection.
“You want to go where you have friends. If I didn’t meet Mike (Ansay) and Kevin (Wester of the Luxembourg American Cultural Center and Society), I wouldn’t do anything here,” he said. “But we said, ‘Let’s do something together.’”
His beers taste so good, Lentz said, because they are slow-brewed.
“Our slow-brewing process takes six weeks compared to 90 minutes in some large breweries,” he said. “We don’t do high-gravity brewing — adding water at the end of the process.”
Each bottle has an expiration date because the beer is not pasteurized and preservatives are not added. The short shelf life is a challenge for the marketing team.
“It’s about six months. It doesn’t mean people are going to get sick if they drink it after that, but it won’t taste as good,” Lentz said. “We tell people to buy a fresh supply.”
Bofferding will probably be offered in several styles, including pilsner, lager, fruit and seasonal beers.
Brasserie Nationale produces about 16 million liters of beer annually, he said.
“We don’t want to be compared to a microbrewery. We’re a full brewery, the largest one in Luxembourg, but we don’t compare to the really big breweries,” Lentz said.
It is not only the largest brewery in the Grand Duchy, but the only one still owned by Luxembourgers. The other breweries are Belgian-owned.
Brasserie Nationale dates back to 1764 when Brasserie Funck-Bricher was founded in Luxembourg City. Funck-Bricher and Brasserie Bofferding, which was founded by Jean-Baptiste Bofferding in Bascharage in 1842, merged in 1975 to form Brasserie Nationale and operations were consolidated in Bascharage.
In 2008, the company bought Brasserie Battin and moved those operations to Bascharage. The brewery has stayed in the family all those years.
“I’m the eighth generation to own the brewery and my children are the ninth,” Lentz said.
His son oversees the China market and lives there. His daughter handles retail sales in Luxembourg.
Mike Ansay’s daughters Kate and Rachel, Yasmine Noori and Clerson Lalanne of Haiti, who speaks French, will work with Brasserie to develop marketing strategies.
In helping to establish the Luxembourg American Cultural Center in the Village of Belgium, Mike Ansay said, a goal was to foster economic, cultural and educational opportunities between the two countries.
For more information on the availability of Bofferding beer, call Kate Ansay at 376-3203, Rachel Ansay at 376-3126 or Lalanne at (414) 239-0431.
Image information: BOFFERDING BEER will soon be available in Port Washington and other Ozaukee County communities thanks to the efforts of (from left) Georges Lentz, chief executive officer of Brasserie Nationale in Luxembourg, which makes the popular brew, and the Ansay Development Corp. team of Yasmine Noori, Kate and Rachel Ansay, Clerson Lalanna and Mike Ansay. Photo by Sam Arendt