A brewing dynasty has left its mark on the brewing tradition

Bourgogne des Flandres: how a beer returned to its home town of Bruges


The Van Houtryve brewing dynasty, made up of no fewer than three breweries, has left its mark on the Bruges brewing tradition. Records from 1765 mention a farm-brewery in Loppem belonging to Pierre-Jacques Van Houtryve. However, it was his son who obtained permission from the representative of the States of Flanders to set up a brewery within the city walls of Bruges in 1825. Den Os Brewery was born.

On the eve of WWI, three members of the Van Houtryve family stood at the helm of their respective breweries: Den Os, La Marine and Ten Ezele. This is no surprise as the number of breweries in Bruges peaked in this period with 34 active breweries, only two of which remain today. It was during this heyday just before the First World War that the flagship beer of Den Os Brewery came into being. 

Bourgogne des Flandres is an authentic West Flemish red-brown beer that has survived the long-term competition from the hugely popular lager beers since WWI as well as the destruction caused by WWII. However, Den Os Brewery finally had to close down in 1957. 

A brewing dynasty

A brewing dynasty

1825-1957

Beers: Dubbel, Tripel, Pitthem, Uitzet, Bourgogne des Flandres.

Den Os is considered one of the major breweries in the history of brewing in Bruges. It wasn’t until 1957 that the legendary brewery closed down after five generations of Van Houtryves at the helm. However, this wasn’t the end of Bourgogne des Flandres. Michel Van Houtryve did not have a brewery anymore, but under his supervision different breweries continued to brew the beer according to the family recipe throughout the years.

Den Os

Raamstraat 3

1825-1957

Beers: Dubbel, Tripel, Pitthem, Uitzet, Bourgogne des Flandres.

Den Os is considered one of the major breweries in the history of brewing in Bruges. It wasn’t until 1957 that the legendary brewery closed down after five generations of Van Houtryves at the helm. However, this wasn’t the end of Bourgogne des Flandres. Michel Van Houtryve did not have a brewery anymore, but under his supervision different breweries continued to brew the beer according to the family recipe throughout the years.

1908 – 1927

La Marine Brewery already existed when Etienne Van Houtryve acquired the building from his father Oscar in 1908 after his brother Jean has inherited Den Os Brewery 3 years previously. Bourgogne des Flandres was brewed here for some time, but production had to be discontinued due to water issues.

La Marine

Wollestraat 35-37

1908 – 1927

La Marine Brewery already existed when Etienne Van Houtryve acquired the building from his father Oscar in 1908 after his brother Jean has inherited Den Os Brewery 3 years previously. Bourgogne des Flandres was brewed here for some time, but production had to be discontinued due to water issues.

1912 – 1931

This brewery dated back to the 14th century, but Albert Van Caillie was its last brewer. He was married to the daughter of Oscar Van Houtryve, who had already given his two sons a brewery. He was also well disposed towards his son-in-law, and in 1908 he handed the brewery over to him; as such, the brewing activity was continued by his three children.

De Sterre / Ten Ezele

Oude Zak 1

1912 – 1931

This brewery dated back to the 14th century, but Albert Van Caillie was its last brewer. He was married to the daughter of Oscar Van Houtryve, who had already given his two sons a brewery. He was also well disposed towards his son-in-law, and in 1908 he handed the brewery over to him; as such, the brewing activity was continued by his three children.

2015 - …

A new chapter in the history of brewing in Bruges began in 2015 when Bourgogne des Flandres returned to the Bruges city centre after an absence of 58 years. The new brewery is furthermore located only 50 metres from the place where Bourgogne des Flandres was brewed one century earlier.

Bourgogne des Flandres brewery

Kartuizerinnenstraat 6

2015 - …

A new chapter in the history of brewing in Bruges began in 2015 when Bourgogne des Flandres returned to the Bruges city centre after an absence of 58 years. The new brewery is furthermore located only 50 metres from the place where Bourgogne des Flandres was brewed one century earlier.

Bourgogne des Flandres The real taste of Bruges

A Bruges beer with a rich history. This is how local residents remember Bourgogne des Flandres or the related breweries.

From old to new

1765

Pierre-Jacques Van Houtryve began brewing in a farm in Loppem.

1825


To fulfil his ambitions, brewer’s son Corneille IV Van Houtryve moved to Bruges, where his application to establish Den Os Brewery was approved.
True to tradition, the brewery was continued by the eldest son from 1825 onwards. Corneille was succeeded by Liévin Van Houtryve, and Oscar Van Houtryve subsequently passed on the Den Os Brewery to Jean Van Houtryve.

1908

Oscar Van Houtryve purchased La Marine Brewery in Wollestraat for his second son. Etienne Van Houtryve brewed here until 1921. For a short time, Etienne followed his brother’s lead and ventured to produce Bourgogne des Flandres. This means that the beer was brewed at two different places in the city centre of Bruges.
Only the cellars of ‘t Bourgondisch Cruyce now bear witness to the fact that beer was once brewed here.

1911

Bourgogne des Flandres was registered with the commercial court of Bruges.

1913

After Oscar Van Houtryve had given his two sons a brewery, his daughter Hélène’s husband also got his own place to brew beer. Albert Van Caillie was the last brewer at De Sterre/Ten Ezele, a brewery dating back to 1415. A historical source mentions:

“...to install a lead pipe in the street near Ezelbrug bridge to be used by the local “Ten Ezele” house, which was a brewery ... “ [Free translation]

De Sterre/Ten Ezele closed under Van Caillie in 1952. He brewed Phenix here. 

1957

Den Os brewery closed its doors. The emergence of German lagers and the damage after the two world wars made it difficult to survive on specialty beers. Den Os brewery was well known for its Dubbel, Trippel, Uytzet, Pitthem wheat beer and Bourgogne des Flandres. However, this wasn’t the end of Bourgogne des Flandres. Michel Van Houtryve did not have a brewery anymore, but under his supervision different breweries continued to brew the beer according to the family recipe throughout the years.

1985

Michel Van Houtryve launched Bourgogne des Flandres with Timmermans Brewery in Itterbeek near Brussels, where lambic was given a prominent role in the brewing process.

1993

John Martin, the oldest distributor of Guinness and known for Martin’s Pale Ale in Antwerp, took over Timmermans Brewery. As a result, Bourgogne des Flanders ended up in the Martin’s Finest Beer Selection along other classics.

2015

The works for a new microbrewery in Bruges commenced in Kartuizerinnenstraat, barely 50 metres away from the former La Marine Brewery. Bourgogne des Flandres is once more brewed here.

Where can I buy Bourgogne Des Flandres

Bourgogne des Flandres Finest Brewery Shop , in the heart of Bruges and Belgian supermarkets.

A new brewery in the heart of Bruges

Kartuizerinnenstraat 6
8000 Brugge

Calculating route

Opening Hours

Tuesday - Sunday 10:00 - 18:00
Bar 10:30 - 19:00

Last Visit = 17:00

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