In 1894, Flemish farmer Adolphe De Brabandere requested authorization to build a brewery in a small village in the south of Western Flanders—Bavikhove. Like most farmers of his day, Adolphe knew how to brew beer, and did so at his farmhouse, using his brew for the family’s consumption. Four generations later, the Bavik Brewery is today as it was then: a family business. Despite the many corporate buy-outs of numerous Belgian breweries—some as old as 500 years old—the Bavik Brewery is determined to retain their independence. In so doing, they’ve guaranteed the quality, character and regional specificity of their various beers.
Their first principal brewer was Adolphe’s son, Joseph De Brabandere. In 1894 the number of smaller breweries in Belgium was already in decline as a result of the hugely popular Pilsner style of beer. This brew, a light colored, bottom-fermented lager, quickly superseded in popularity the local ales. A true entrepreneur and wise businessman, Joseph De Brabandere capitalized on this new trend in beer drinking and became the most important Pilsner brewer in his region.
The family business enjoyed its successful standing in the region until 1914, when the German army invaded the region and confiscated the brewery, forcing its closure during World War I. Incredibly, after the turmoil and devastation of the war, Joseph was able to restart the brewery. But with the outbreak of the Second World War, the brewery’s fate was again threatened. Miraculously, Joseph’s wife Gabrielle was able to convince the Germans to keep the brewery open during World War II. Eventually, the brewery passed to Joseph and Gabrielle’s children, who developed the brewery further through modernization and market expansion.
Today the Bavik Brewery is the largest brewery of West Flanders, brewing over 80,000 barrels of beer per year. Their beer was first made available in the states in 2000, and we’ve been loving it ever since!
For more information about the Bavik Brewery, check out their web site at http://www.bavik.be