Since April 2016, Bruges is a brewery richer. We used to have only one inner city brewery: Halve Maan, located close to the beautiful beguinage in Bruges. Here they brew the popular beer “Brugse Zot”. Brugse Zot means Fool from Bruges, a historic nickname the people from Bruges carry with pride. Ten years after de Halve Maan brewery started brewing again, brewery “Bourgogne des Flandres” also returns to its roots.
Already in the 18th century Bruges counted several breweries, and in 1825, Corneille IV Van Houtryve gets permission to start a brewery in the city centre. Brewery Den Os is born. Before WOI, Bruges counts 34 working breweries, and in this glorious period, Bourgogne des Flandres is born, an authentic West-Flemish red brown beer. The brewery has to close its doors in 1957 because it can’t compete with the growing popularity of Pils beer. The beer continues to be brewed in several other breweries, one of which is the Timmermans brewery in the Brussels area. In 2015, John Martin, who owns the Timmermans brewery, brings Bourgogne des Flandres back to Bruges after 58 years. The micro brewery in the Kartuizerinnenstraat in Bruges where Bourgogne des Flandres is produced now, lies only 50 m from the old brewery La Marine, where the same beer used to be made in the 1920’s.
In Bruges they brew the “Bourgogne des Flandres pure”, that is then blended with the Lambic beer from the Timmermans brewery, resulting in a red-brown beer, “Bourgogne des Flandres”.
The brewery organises visits that take about one hour. You can join a tour every 20 minutes. During the tour, led by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable young guide, you learn the history of the beer, the brewing process and its ingredients.
In the brewing area you can follow the whole process live from start to finish and meet the brewers in person while working. The tour is beautifully worked out in a multimedial way, using film, photographs, and the real beer ingredients you can smell and taste. There is an adapted parallel tour for children, with several activities.
The brewery is located in a beautiful old building that used to be part of a cloister. At the end of the tour there is a room where you can play around taking funny pictures or trying to pour a perfect glass of beer.
And last but not least, your ticket includes one glass of Bourgogne des Flandres which you can drink in the brewery’s bar-restaurant. The bar features a great outdoor terrace overlooking the canal. The beer is very pleasant to drink, not too high in alcohol, with a warm round sweet-sour taste. There is also a shop in case you want to take some bottles home. We had some home brewers and beer connoisseurs in the group, who were pleasantly surprised by the professional tour and very knowledgeable guide. The guide did not blink when we asked him to switch from Dutch to English halfway the tour, and he continued just as fluent. Great job! This second inner city brewery is a great asset for the city, and a great addition to the tourist circuit of Bruges.
You can also have lunch, dinner or tapas at the bar-restaurant, where the staff is very welcoming and friendly. I really hope they can keep up the enthusiasm and quality they offer now.
I highly recommend a visit to the brewery to every tourist coming to Bruges. If you have to choose between the chocolate museum, the fries museum, the beer museum, the diamond museum or the Bourgogne des Flandres brewery, the last one is by far the better choice.The tour costs 10 euro, the glass of beer included, and the tour is free for residents of Bruges, they only have to pay 3,5 euro for the glass of beer.