Brewery by the Belfry

Bourgogne des Flandres occupies a special place in the brewing landscape of Bruges, offering an experience which is practically unique today.
Bourgogne des Flandres

Bourgogne des Flandres

A precious brewDiscover the archetypal Flemish tradition of bières de coupage, where young and old beers are carefully blended to create the perfect balance.At the Bourgogne des Flandres brewery in the centre of Bruges, ‘Bourgogne des Flandres Pure’, a top fermentation brown beer, is blended with lambic from Timmermans, the world’s oldest lambic brewery. This lambic, which is aged for more than 12 months in oak barrels, imparts a pleasant bittersweet note to Bourgogne des Flandres.With 5% alcohol by volume, Bourgogne des Flandres is a noble, tasty beer which is neither too heavy nor too light, making it the ideal aperitif beer.From roots into the lightAt the dawn of the First World War, the Van Houtryve brewing dynasty was making its mark on brewing in Bruges with no fewer than three breweries to its name: Den Os, La Marine and Ten Ezele. This was not unusual because the number of breweries in Bruges had reached its peak at this time, with 34 working breweries. It was during this heyday, in 1911 just before the First World War, that the jewel of the Den Os brewery came into being.With Bourgogne des Flandres, the Den Os brewery was brewing an authentic West Flanders reddish-brown beer. Creating it was a challenge for the young brewery, and its success would establish its craft reputation. It developed a unique brewing process that came to be referred to as “lambic infusion” by blending a selection of the best lambic beers with a top fermentation brown beer. After months of maturing in oak barrels, the result was a delicious brown beer with a creamy head, which it called “Bourgogne des Flandres” in homage to Duchess Marie and the opulence of Flanders.While Bourgogne des Flandres managed to hold its own against the massive popularity of Pilsners after the First World War and the destruction wrought during the Second World War, Pierre Van Houtryve closed the brewery in 1957. However, the recipe for Bourgogne des Flandres was passed on, under the watchful eye of Michel Van Houtryve, to other brewing families, before being entrusted in the 1980s to Timmermans, the world’s oldest lambic brewery. Timmermans was subsequently taken over in the 1990s by Anthony Martin, the owner of the John Martin brewery.That’s how Bourgogne des Flandres became part of the “Finest Beer Selection”, and how its former reputation was reinstated. Its success has never waned and, in 2009, it even obtained the highest score (three stars!) from the prestigious jury of sommeliers of the International Taste & Quality Institute (iTQi).Finally, 60 years after the Den Os brewery closed its doors, Bourgogne des Flandres returned to its birthplace of Bruges, again thanks to the intervention of Anthony Martin who, in 2012, purchased the former public welfare building in Kartuizerinnenstraat. He had a new urban brewery built there in the granary of this historic building located just a two minute walk from the Belfry, with which it shares close links.This spot is where Bourgogne des Flandres has been brewed once again since 16 November 2015 by master brewers Thomas Vandelanotte and Edward Martin, close to the original Den Os brewery. « Meet the brewer »Bourgogne des FlandresNow that restoration work on the historic building has been completed, the Bourgogne des Flandres brewery, which is a stone’s throw away from the Belfry, is open to the public. The craftsmen who bring Bourgogne des Flandres to life invite you to share their heritage, and visitors can even meet the young master brewers at work and chat with them.The fifty-minute-long interactive guided tour provides lots of fascinating details about the brewing process and the history of this legendary Bruges beer. Not only will you have the opportunity to taste the ingredients and of course the finished product, but you will also be able to see the actual brewing process and the open fermentation. There’s even a game during the tour to keep the kids amused. The brewery also holds workshops to teach groups how to put together their own Bourgogne des Flandres - a blend of top fermentation brown beer and lambic.With its central location and view of the city of Bruges, as well as its lovely restaurant with terrace overlooking the canals, this has to be the world’s most romantic brewery. It’s a place you simply must visit!Visit the Brewery