The Halve Maan Brewery has been a family brewery since 1856 with six generations of ownership that have strived to offer superior beer both in quality and taste while respecting the traditional art of brewing.
In 1564, the town register first mentions the existence of the brewery, “Die Maene” (The Moon). In 1856, Leon Manes, also known as Henri I purchases the property. He embraced traditional brewing methods of the time and the product produced was turbid and sourish with a high fermentation and had limited durability. The beer was only available and distributed in barrels.
Henri I died in 1867 and his sons Henri II and Achere took over the brewery. During the industrial revolution Henri went to England to learn new brewing techniques to apply to their product in Bruges. Henri built an English maltery and kiln and started brewing “English-Style” beers including stout and pale ale. The brothers invested in a modern boiler to increase production in 1883. In 1905, both brothers died and their widow ran the brewery through WWI.
After WWI in 1919, Henri III took over the brewery. He traveled to Germany to gain more brewing knowledge and techniques. There he learned about beers of low fermentation, lagers, he decided to brew this type of beer in Bruges. In 1928, the facilities were adapted with cooling installations for brewing lagers. He launched a Bock, a light pils beer which was an immediate success in Bruges. The beer production of the brewery increased by 46% within one year. During the1930’s the brewery following the newest trend of producing soft drink including cola, lemonade, and water. Henri III developed and specialized in a home-delivery system with a horse and hamper.
Post WWII Henri III acquired a neighbor brewery Brugge Zeehaven. Combining the two spaces allowed the brewery to continue to grow and increase production. The building had a similar layout to today’s layout with the coolship, a large malt floor, and German style kiln.
In the 1950’s Henri IV joined the family business. The brewery and its home delivery system grew in popularity until the 1970’s. The table beer and lemonades were the most successful products distributed by horse and hamper and later trucks. During the 1970’s personal cars became more popular with the change people began buying their beer in supermarkets. The brewery was too small to service the supermarkets.
During the 1980’s the interest in traditional regional beers increased. Veronique, daughter of Henri IV launched a new beer in 1981. The beer was first brewed for the inauguration of the Saint-Arnold, the patron saint of brewers, statue in Bruges. The beer was a success and the mayor asked for it to be served at receptions in the town hall. Due to the alcohol strength being greater than other beers it got the name Straffe Hendrik (Strong Henri). In 1988, the Riva brewery took over the brand and brewed the beer in Bruges until 2002.
In 2005, Xavier Vanneste, son of Veronqiue Maes, revived brewery activities along with a modernization and renovation of the brewery. He launched a new beer from the brewery called Bruges Zot. By the end of 2008, Straffe Hendrik which was developed and brewed by the Maes Family returned to Bruges and is now being brewed again at the Brewery De Halve Maan according to the original recipe.