The history of Duvel Moortgat is one of respect for tradition and family values. Today, the fourth generation of the Moortgat family watches over the legacy of founder Jan-Leonard Moortgat and his two sons, Albert and Victor.
1871: The origin
In 1871, Jan-Leonard Moortgat, the son of a brewers’ family from Steenhuffel, founded the Moortgat farm-brewery together with his wife Maria De Block. At that time, the newcomer was just one of the 4,000 breweries active in Belgium at the turn of the century. So initially things were not particularly easy: in the first few, pioneering years, Jan-Leonard tried to market a number of high-fermentation beers such as Stavelot. With varying degrees of success. Thanks to a combination of enthusiasm, a passion for brewing and craftsmanship, however, Jan-Leonard gradually built up a loyal client base, not just in the area around Breendonk, but even as far away as Brussels, by selling beer to the bourgeoisie. This is borne out by the opening of a warehouse in Laeken. The start, as it turned out, of a success story that has now lasted for over a hundred years...
1900: The second Moortgat generation
In the meantime, business boomed and Jan-Leonard’s two sons, Albert and Victor, joined the firm. The jobs were clearly distributed: Albert became the brewer while Victor took care of deliveries to Brussels by horse and cart. The First World War brought Belgium into contact with England and in particular English ales, which enjoyed considerable popularity during this period.
1918-1923: The prelude to a successful product
Albert decided to be part of the English ales success story too and develop a beer based on the English model. However, a sample of local yeast was essential to create an ale like this.
So Albert went to Scotland, where at first he encountered a lot of resistance from local brewers. It was only after a real odyssey among local breweries that he eventually got his hands on the coveted sample. Yeast from this same source is still used today!