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 Provincial Executive of Flanders to set up brewing activities within the city walls of Bruges in 1825. This marked the birth of the ‘Den Os Brewery’.
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. The fact that a single family had multiple breweries is unsurprising because the number of breweries in Bruges was at its peak during this period, with 34 operating breweries. Just two of these remain today. It was during this heyday just before WWI that the flagship beer of the Den Os Brewery first came into being.
Bourgogne des Flandres is an authentic red-brown beer from West Flanders that survived the long-term competition from the enormously popular pilsners after WWI, as well as the destruction wrought during WWII that led to the definitive closure of the Den Os Brewery in 1957.
From generation to generation
The recipe for Bourgogne des Flandres was passed on to other family breweries under the watchful eye of Michel Van Houtryve. In the 1980s, it ended up in the hands of the world’s oldest lambic brewery Timmermans, not far from Brussels, which was taken over by the John Martin Brewery in the 1990s.
With Anthony Martin at the helm of the company, Bourgogne des Flandres became part of the Finest Beer Selection and its reputation was reinstated with the creation of a new brewery just a stone’s throw from the original Den Os Brewery.
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