Podcast Episode 229: Au Baron’s Xavier Ballieux Carries on the Family Farmhouse-Brewing Tradition

In France near the Belgian border, family-run Brasserie Au Baron fuses the character of local ingredients, a distinctive house yeast, and the traditions of both saison and bière de garde.

Jamie Bogner , Joe Stange Mar 11, 2022 - 5 min read

Podcast Episode 229: Au Baron’s Xavier Ballieux Carries on the Family Farmhouse-Brewing Tradition Primary Image

Photo: Joe Stange

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It’s a striking spot for a brewery—the site of a former mill on a winding stream, with the village church looming overhead. Out behind Brasserie Au Baron in Gussignies, you can literally throw a rock and hit Belgium in the neighbor’s front yard. Yet this is a French brewery, officially, even if its influences are many—the traditions of Hainaut saison and French bière de garde mingle in beers such as Cuvée des Jonquilles and Saint-Medard, leaning into a distinctive heirloom yeast strain and locally grown ingredients.

Brewing runs in the Ballieux family; while Xavier Ballieux represents the second generation to run Brasserie Au Baron, his grandfather Roger brewed in Belgium, France, and the Congo, moving from brewery to brewery as 20th century industry consolidation shuttered one after another. In his later years he advised his son Alain on setting up a brewhouse at the family restaurant in Gussignies. Their idea was to brew beers like those farmhouse ales that Roger remembered from his younger days in Hainaut.

In this episode of the podcast, recorded at the brewery in Gussignies, Xavier Ballieux shares the story of their family trade and approach to brewing rustic ales. Among other topics, he also discusses the character and temperamental nature of their house yeast culture, which was originally sourced by his grandfather; his own perspective on the difference between saison and bière de garde; the use of elderberries in the darker version of the Saison Saint-Medard; and much more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].