Brouwerij De Halve Maan

Brouwerij De Halve Maan


"The job of a brewer is only finished when the glass is empty."

Bruges brewery visit

Unfortunately it was quite a rainy day when we headed for Bruges. Taking a boat trip down the canals and exploring the streets of this beautiful medieval city luckily wasn’t our plan for the day. It was certainly worth taking this roadtrip though because we were finally setting foot in one of Belgium’s famous old family breweries, Brouwerij De Halve Maan. We had an invitation to sit down with Xavier Vanneste and ask him all about this brewery that attracts every year over 100.000 visitors from all over the world. The brewery tour and the historical exhibition are a must when visiting Bruges. When all is said and done you can enjoy a beer or two in the taproom or on the terrace (weather permitting). 

Taproom and restaurant Brouwerij De Halve Maan

De Halve Maan brewery history 

Leon Maes became owner of the brewery in 1856, he was also referred to as “Henri the first”. A few years later a second Henri became in charge over the brewery, together with his brother. With the Industrial Revolution came also new brewing techniques and Henri travelled to England, eager to learn all about it. After his return the brothers invested in the brewery, but both brothers die at a very young age. The family guides the brewery through WW I and around 1930 a third Henri becomes in charge. In case you still wonder where the name “Straffe Hendrik” (Strong Hendrik) originates… The beer itself was developed by Henri IV (the fourth “Hendrik”) and his daughter Véronique. She renovated the brewery in 1997 and decided to put more focus on the café and restaurant. She also added the museum where you can experience some unique brewing history. The brewing production came to a halt.

Sixth generation brewer

In 2005 Xavier Vanneste, sixth generation and son of Véronique Maes, installed new tanks and a modern installation. He picked up the brewing production again and pretty soon the new “Brugse Zot” beer became a succes. The brand “Straffe Hendrik” was acquired by another brewery in the 1980’s but since 2008 it is back in the hands of Brouwerij De Halve Maan. Due to the growing succes a new bottling plant was realized in 2010 on the city outskirts. Some years later a new brewing house and taproom were installed to make sure this old Belgian family brewery would be ready for the future.

Straffe Hendrik

Underground beer pipeline

Worldwide attention for De Halve Maan brewery came with the installation of a beer pipeline beneath the cobbled streets of the old city center of Bruges. Over a distance of 2,3 km (approx. 2 miles) the beer is pumped to the bottling plant. Since September 2017 there are no more beer trucks driving in and out the medieval town that is on the Unesco World Heritage List. A small portion of the total amount necessary was crowdfunded and for those who invested over €7500,- there’s a free Brugse Zot beer every day, for the rest of their lives! 

Must do: a brewery tour in Bruges

Bruges beer city

It might be obvious, but Bruges is a real hotspot for food and drink lovers. De Halve Maan brewery offers the best beer tour in Bruges, combined with good food and paired with even better beers. But there are more beery venues worth a visit. The oldest bar in Bruges, Café Vlissinghe is well over 500 years old and a great place to mingle with locals and tourists. The Beer Wall at 2be is a major attraction for beerlovers but perhaps a bit too touristy for some. Prefer hanging out with locals and backpackers? Do a beer tasting session at hostel bar The Bauhaus. With a little effort you might make it to De Garre, a cosy old bar, tucked away in an alley. And there’s more, but the best way to find out is to visit Bruges yourself!

Walplein 26
8000 Brugge

+32 50 44 42 22

Additional features

Bottle shop
Brewery tours daily - check website for reservations

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