In 1871, Jan-Leonard Moortgat, son of a brewer’s family from Steenhuffel, founds the Duvel Moortgat farm brewery together with his wife Maria De Block. At that time, the newly born brewery is only one of the 4,000 breweries in Belgium around the turn of the century. The start is not exactly easy: Jan-Leonard does some pioneering work during those first years, trying to sell a number of high fermentation beers like Stavelot. With varying success. Thanks to a combination of perseverance, brewer’s passion and craftsmanship, Jan-Leonard Moortgat gradually builds a loyal client base for his high fermentation beers. The middle classes of Brussels also appreciate his beers, and he is able to open a epot in Laken. The start, as it turns out, of a success story that has already lasted for 130 years.
Around the turn of the century, Jan-Leonard’s sons Albert and Victor join the business. Albert becomes the brewer, Victor takes care of deliveries by horse and cart to Brussels. English ales enjoy considerable popularity during this period. The First World War brings them to Belgium.
1923: The launch of Duvel. Initially, the beer is baptised “Victory Ale” to commemorate the end of the First World War. Until shoemaker Van De Wouwer changes history when he describes the beer as “nen echten Duvel” or “a true Devil” during a tasting. Divine inspiration? From 1923 onward, the beer is sold under this name. Production starts slowly with only a few crates in 1923. The beginning of the seventies is the era of the big breakthrough, when a well-thought out marketing strategy educates an ever-increasing number of people about the qualities of Duvel. Real lovers probably know that a variant of the classic Red Duvel exists, this being Green Duvel. Itwas created in the sixties for the ‘Gentse Feesten’, Europe’s most important open-air festival, that was looking for a lighter beer at the time. Green Duvel is still available in the core region around the brewery as well as in a number of select hotel and catering outlets in Brussels. As a tribute to the success of its flag-bearer, the group is renamed from Moortgat to Duvel Moortgat at the time of its listing on the Euronext stock exchange.
End of the sixties: Creation of the Duvel glass . Duvel is and remains unique, despite its many imitators. At the end of the sixties, the Duvel glass is the first tulip shaped glass that allows a full 33-centilitre bottle to be poured in one glass. No similar beer glasses had existed up until that time. The glass is completely attuned to an ever more complete experience of the beer: The round shape releases Duvel’s heavenly flavours and aromas. Since the glass narrows towards the top, it helps to preserve carbon dioxide and therefore the head. It also allows a better division between beer and froth in the same glass, where a classical glass would leave only froth.
The inner circle inside the bottom of the Duvel glass also causes the subtle sparkling of the beer up to its luxurious head. For the last couple of years, this engraving has been in the shape of a ‘D’, the first letter of the Duvel logo!
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