Celebrating local craftsmanship and culinary innovation in Poperinge
Houblonesse is the name of a range of regional products made by Sowepo vzw from the region around Poperinge. Sowepo, which stands for Social Workshops Poperinge, employs 180 people with a distance to the labour market.
Poperinge is the capital of hops and its shoots are even called 'the white gold' in the region and are a real delicacy. However, when processing those shoots for culinary purposes, much of it, including the stems, was discarded because it seemed unusable. Therefore, to make Houblonesse a true regional product, the brewers used those hop shoots as the basis for making their gin.
Besides circularity, Houblonesse is also committed to the short chain. The raw material of the gin comes from the region and the drink itself is re-sold in the region. To also combat food waste, Houblonesse partnered with Foodpairing. At the molecular level, they explored how to enhance the flavour of the hop shoots, which allowed an extensive product range to be worked out: from alcohol and coffee to cheeses and caramel.
Houblonesse was named "Best Belgian Genever" in 2021 and 2022 and was even crowned "World's Best Genever" in 2022. The gin has an alcohol content of 35%.