A true brewing legend, who was treated like a rock star in Belgium where they care about their national beers, Pierre Celis would have been 93 today. Celis single-handedly revived the style witbier in the 1960s when he was a brewer at Hoegaarden. He later moved to Texas to start a microbrewery with his daughter Christine, which was sold to Miller in 1995. More recently, he was making three cave-aged beers under the label Grottenbier at St. Bernardus in Belgium. Unfortunately, Pierre passed away almost six years ago in April. Pierre was a terrific person and his absence is still deeply felt. The last I heard, his daughter Christine was working on a great-sounding project that will honor her father’s memory and also produce some terrific beers, too. That project is now closer to opening. Join me in drinking a toast to the memory of Pierre Celis.
Today is the birthday of Regina Wauters (March 1, 1795-January 24, 1874). She was married to Pedro Rodenbach and the two of them bought out other family members to become sole owners of what would become known as Brouwerij Rodenbach in Rosalre, Belgium.
Here’s her Wikipedia entry:
Born in Mechelen, Regina Wauters was the daughter of a rich local brewer. She married Pedro Rodenbach in 1818 and moved to Roeselare in West Flanders, Belgium, where his family had a distillery.
In 1821 Pedro took along with his brothers and sister a brewery. The brothers agreed to a partnership for fifteen years. At the end of this period, Pedro and Regina bought the brewery from the others and Regina ran the business while Pedro served in the military during the Belgian revolution.
Rodenbach bought the distillery from his family in 1835. He died in Brussels in 1848. His family sold the distillery to Regina Wauters, Her distillery remained for a long time the only significant distillery in Roeselare. Regina extended it immediately after she bought it. Later she asked her eldest son, Raymond, to work in the distillery. Raymond Rodenbach would continue to run the distillery until c.1895. The distillery was later sold to Honoré Talpe who transformed it into a chicory factory.
Regina invested her money not only in the distillery of the Rodenbachs but also in their brewery. In 1836 the family Rodenbach sold the brewery in Roeselare with numerous other properties. Pedro Rodenbach would buy most of it with the money of Regina. Pedro had to sign legal documents to recognize her as sole proprietor of the brewery and any other property that he had bought from his family.
Regina immediately began to expand the brewery. Although she succeeded in building one of the largest distilleries in the region, she would fail to create the largest brewery in the city. She suffered from the fierce competition with Anna Gesquiere, who also ran a brewery in Roeselare.
In 1860 her son Edward Rodenbach came to work in the brewery and it was during his directorship that the brewery expanded outside Roeselare. In 1864 Regina sold him, at the age of 69, her brewery, her house and workshops, along with eleven bars she had bought. Regina Wauters would retire to live on her private means until her death in 1874.
And this is her entry from her Dutch Wikipedia page, translated by Google Translate:
Regina Wauters was a rich brewer’s daughter from Mechelen. She married Pedro Rodenbach in 1818 and moved to Roeselare. The family had a distillery in the Spanjestraat. In 1820, Pedro and his brothers and sisters took over a brewery in the street. In 1835 the family Rodenbach decided to sell the distillery that was still managed in community to Pedro. Pedro Rodenbach was also a soldier and since the Belgian revolutionhe could hardly be seen in Roeselare. He would die in Brussels in 1848. The family then sold the distillery to Regina Wauters, who acted by her husband’s proxy. However, it was Regina who provided the necessary money. She had the necessary documents drawn up, her husband acknowledging that she was the sole owner of the distillery and all other real estate. The distillery would for a long time be the only noteworthy distillery in Roeselare. She employed a lot of people. Regina would expand it immediately after the sale. Later she involved her eldest son, Raymond, in the case. Raymond Rodenbach would continue to run the distillery until about 1895. The distillery was later sold to Honoré Talpe who made it a chicory factory.
Regina Wauters did not only invest her money in the family distillery of the Rodenbachs. In 1836 the Rodenbach family, mainly represented by Alexander Rodenbach , sold her brewery in the Spanjestraat with many other properties. Pedro Rodenbach would buy the majority of that. However, he did this again with Regina’s money. Pedro also had to acknowledge once again in deeds that the brewery and all other properties he had bought from the family were now her property.
Regina Wauters immediately started the expansion of the brewery. She might have one of the largest distilleries in the region; she would not succeed in creating the largest brewery in the city. Before that she had too much competition from Anna Gesquiere, the widow Cauwe, who had a brewery on the Polenplein. There was a strong competition between the two ladies in the 1830s and 1840s. In this way they both strove to introduce the steam engine in Roeselare as soon as possible. Regina Wauters was known for the vigorous management of both her affairs. Her policy was particularly forward-looking. But she was also hardened in the small parts of the business world. For example, she was repeatedly suspected of circumventing the city tax on alcohol. She also had a lock placed on the Mandelbeek without a license,
Since 1848 she moved her sons Emiel and Florent to the brewery, but remained so in the background that they quickly noticed it. In 1860 her second son Eduard Rodenbach entered the brewery. He used to be a lineman manufacturer, but he was certain of being insecure during a flax crisis and decided to concentrate successfully on the beer industry. In 1864 Regina Wauters, now 69, her brewery, home and workshops, together with the eleven cafes she had bought, would sell to her son. From then on, Regina Wauters would retire until her death in 1874.
In 2004 a street in a Roeselaar industrial zone was named after her, the Regina Wautersweg.
And this is the history currently on the brewery website:
The Rodenbachs moved from Andernach am Rhein to Roeselare in West Flanders. The Rodenbach line boasted numerous military men, poets, writers, brewers and entrepreneurs, as well as pragmatic revolutionaries and politicians.
Pedro Rodenbach took part in Napoleon’s Russian campaign and was instrumental in the Belgian revolution in 1830, which led to an independent Belgium. Three Rodenbachs were members of the constitutional congress when Belgium was founded. Constantijn Rodenbach was the author of the “Brabançonne”, the Belgian national anthem.
In 1836, Pedro Rodenbach, together with his entrepreneurial wife Regina Wauters, founded the brewery. However, it is Eugène Rodenbach whom RODENBACH has to thank for its unique quality and masterful character. Not only did he study the vinification of beer, but also optimised the maturation process in oak casks, or “foeders” (maturation casks). The world-renowned cask halls with their 294 oak casks, some of which are 150 years old, are protected as part of the industrial heritage of the Flemish Community.
Today is the birthday of Mary of Burgundy (February 13, 1457-March 27, 1482), She was also known as the “Duchess of Burgundy, [and] reigned over the Low Countries from 1477 until her death. As the only child of Charles the Bold and his wife Isabella of Bourbon, she was the heiress to the vast, and vastly wealthy, Burgundian domains in France and the Low Countries upon her father’s death in the Battle of Nancy on January 5, 1477.”
Portrait of Mary of Burgundy, painted in 1490 by Austrian artist, Michael Pacher.
Here’s more about Mary, most of it from her Wikipedia page:
Mary of Burgundy was born in Brussels, at the ducal castle of Coudenberg, to Charles the Bold, Count of Charolais, and his wife, Isabella of Bourbon. Her birth, according to the court chronicler, Georges Chastellain, was attended by a clap of thunder ringing from the otherwise clear twilight sky. Her godfather was Louis, Dauphin of France, in exile in Burgundy at that time; he named her for his mother, Marie of Anjou. Reactions to the child were mixed: the baby’s grandfather, Duke Philip the Good, was unimpressed, and “chose not to attend the [Baptism] as it was only for a girl;” the grandmother, Isabella of Portugal, was simply delighted at the birth of a granddaughter.
Philip the Good died in 1467, making his son Duke of Burgundy and his 10-year-old granddaughter heiress presumptive. As the only child of Charles the Bold, Mary was heiress presumptive to a vast and wealthy domain, made up of the Duchy of Burgundy, the Free County of Burgundy, and the majority of the Low Countries, and her hand was eagerly sought by a number of princes. The first proposal was received by her father when she was only five years old, to marry the future King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Later the younger brother of Louis XI, Charles, Duke of Berry, made an approach, to the intense annoyance of his brother the King, who attempted to prevent the necessary papal dispensation for consanguinity.
As soon as Louis produced a male heir who survived infancy, the future King Charles VIII of France, Louis wanted his son to be the one to marry Mary, despite his son being thirteen years younger than Mary. Nicholas I, Duke of Lorraine, was a few years older than Mary, and his duchy lay alongside Burgundian territory, but his plan to combine his territory with hers was ended by his death in battle in 1473.
Mary ascended upon her father’s death in the Battle of Nancy on 5 January 1477. King Louis XI of France seized the opportunity afforded by his rival’s defeat and death to attempt to take possession of the Duchy of Burgundy proper, and also of Franche-Comté, Picardy and Artois.
A portrait believed to have been painted by Niklas Reiser.
The King was anxious that Mary should marry his son Charles and thus secure the inheritance of the Low Countries for his heirs, by force of arms if necessary. Burgundy, fearing the French military power, sent an embassy to France to negotiate a marriage between Mary and six-year-old Charles VIII, but returned home without a betrothal, finding the French king’s demands of cession of territories to the French crown unacceptable.
On February 10, 1477 at Ghent on the occasion of her formal recognition, known as the Joyous Entry, as Charles’ heir, she was compelled to sign a charter of rights, called the Great Privilege. Under this agreement, the provinces and towns of Flanders, Brabant, Hainaut, and Holland recovered all the local and communal rights which had been abolished by the decrees of the dukes of Burgundy in their efforts to create a centralized state on the French model out of their separate holdings in the Low Countries. In particular, the Parliament of Mechelen (established formally by Charles the Bold in 1470) was abolished and replaced with the pre-existing authority of the Parliament of Paris, which was considered an amenable counterweight to the encroaching, if informal, centralization undertaken by both Charles the Bold and Philip the Good. The Duchess also had to undertake not to declare war, make peace, or raise taxes without the consent of the States, and to employ only native residents in official posts.
Such was the hatred of the people for the old regime that two of her father’s influential councilors, the Chancellor Hugonet and the Sire d’Humbercourt, having been discovered in correspondence with the King of France, were executed at Ghent despite the tears and entreaties of the Duchess.
Another, later portrait by an unknown Flemish artist.
Mary now made her choice among the many suitors for her hand, selecting Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who became her co-ruler. The marriage took place at Ghent on the evening of 16 August 1477. The event initiated two centuries of contention between France and the Habsburgs (later of Spain, then of Austria) for their possession, which climaxed in the War of the Spanish Succession, 1701–1714.
In the Netherlands, affairs now went more smoothly, the French aggression was temporarily checked, and internal peace was in large measure restored.
Five years later, the 25-year-old Duchess died due to a fall from her horse on March 27, 1482 near Wijnendale Castle. She loved riding, and was falconing with Maximilian when her horse tripped, threw her, and then landed on top of her, breaking her back. She died several days later, having made a detailed will. She is buried in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges.
Louis was swift to re-engage, and forced Maximilian to agree to the Treaty of Arras (1482) by which Franche-Comté and Artois passed for a time to French rule, only to be regained by the Treaty of Senlis (1493), which established peace in the Low Countries. Mary’s marriage to the House of Habsburg would prove to be a disaster for France, for the Burgundian inheritance would later bring it into conflict with Spain and the Empire.
But, of course, she was also the inspiration for a Belgian beer, brewed by the Brouwerij Verhaeghe, located in Vichte, which is a ancient castle and farm in West Flanders. The beer is called Duchesse de Bourgogne, and it’s a personal favorite of mine. I know some people think it’s uneven, or not a classic Flanders Red Ale, but I love it.
I also wrote about Duchesse de Bourgogne a few years ago, and at the time I did my own short overview of her life.
Beer aside, the history of the Duchesse is fascinating. Her anglicized name was Mary of Burgundy, though she was born in Brussels on February 13, 1457, the only child of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and his wife Isabella of Bourbon. Needless to say she was quite a catch, especially after her father died in battle (at the siege of Nancy, not a particularly awful sounding name) in 1477, when she was nineteen. Louis XI of France tried to take Burgundy and the Low Countries for himself but was frustrated when Mary signed the “Great Privilege,” by which she gave Flanders, Brabant, Hainaut, and all of Holland autonomous rule (leaving for herself the remainder of the Low Countries, Artois, Luxembourg, and Franche-Comté). She then married Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who was later the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and part of the Hapsburg Austrian dynasty. This sparked a long-standing dispute over the Low Countries between France and the Hapsburg family.
One of Mary’s favorite hobbies was falconing, which was popular among royals in the day. Falconry is basically training and hunting using a falcon. While engaged in this pursuit, in 1482, Mary’s horse tripped, tossing her onto the ground where the horse then landed on top of her, breaking her back. A few days later she died. Mary was only 25. The beer label’s portrait pays homage to her love of falconry and her ultimate death because of it.
Her young son Philip became heir after her death, though Maximilian was in charge until he reached adulthood. King Louis forced Maximilian to sign the Treaty of Arras the same year, and it gave Franche Comté and Artois to France. But Philip was a virtual prisoner until 1485, and then it took Max another eight years to take back control of their lands in the Low Countries. The Treaty of Senlis, in 1493, finally established peace in the area, but Burgundy and Picardy remained French.
So during her short life, Mary had such great impact on European politics that they can be felt even now in the present. So it’s quite appropriate that she have so wonderful a beer that bears her name and her portrait. It’s a fitting legacy.
The Duchesse de Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe is the traditional Flemish red ale. This refreshing ale is matured in oak casks; smooth with a rich texture and interplay of passion fruit, and chocolate, and a long, dry and acidic finish. After the first and secondary fermentation, the beer goes for maturation into the oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of younger 8 months old beer with 18 months old beer. The average age of the Duchesse de Bourgogne before being bottled is 12 months.
Coat of arms of Mary of Burgundy.
Today is the 50th birthday — the Big 5-O — of Jean Van Roy, who took over the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels from his father several years ago, though he’d been working there all of his life. Considered a working brewery museum, they make some amazing lambics, and the tour is one everyone should take at least once in their life. Down an unassuming alley in Brussels, and not one you’d feel safe meandering along at night, Cantillon has been located there since 1900, when it was founded. I’ve met Jean a number of times, and he always strikes me as a man with beer in his blood, and a passion for what he’s doing, which makes him a kindred spirit as far as I’m concerned. Join me in wishing Jean a very happy birthday.
Jean (on right), Yvan De Baets (center, who plans to open Brasserie De La Senne by the end of the year) and I believe Bernard (on left, also from De La Senne) at Deep Ellum in Boston during CBC in 2009.
Today is the birthday of Ferdinand Rodenbach (November 1, 1714-November, 17 1783). He was a military surgeon and a co-founder of Brouwerij Rodenbach, along with his brothers. His younger brother Pedro Rodenbach was a military officer and fought in the Battle of Waterloo. When he left the army in 1818, he married a brewer’s daughter, Regina Wauters, who was from Mechelen in Belgium. After Pedro’s father died, he and his brothers, Alexander, Ferdinand and Constantijn, bought a brewery in Roeselare, which is where Ferdinand had settled after being held as a prisoner of war in France. When their agreed-upon partnership ended after fifteen years, Pedro and Regina bought them out. It was originally called Brasserie et Malterie Saint-Georges, but later became known as Brouwerij Rodenbach.
Present at the reveling of the statue of Albrecht Rodenbach in Roeselaere. Formerly Hugo Verriest, Ferdinand Rodenbach and his children, René de Clercq, Prof. Gustaf Verriest and others.
And this is the history currently on the brewery website:
Ferdinand RODENBACH was a soldier, civilian physician and burgher. He was married to Johanna VANDENBOSSCHE and they had 4 children. The RODENBACH family coat of arms indicates its noble origins, originating from Odenwald in HESSEN. The RODENBACHs of Roeselare originate from the town of ANDERNACH AM RHEIN. After being a French prisoner of war in Lille, Ferdinand left the Austrian army at the age of 35 and settled in Roeselare. He is known to have published several medical volumes in German.
Today is the birthday of Frantz Brogniez (October 26, 1860-October 9, 1935). He was born in Hainaut, Belgium. His father was also a brewmaster and a 25 year member of the Belgian senate in Brussels. He also trained as a brewer at Louvain, and at his first brewing job in Lichterveld in 1882, he created Belgium’s first “blond” beer. Moving to the United States in 1896, he founded the The Belgian Brewery in Detroit Michigan, which was later renamed the Tivoli Brewery. He then moved to Terre Haute, Indiana to found the Peoples Brewery there. Moving to Houston in 1912, he became the brewmaster of the Houston Ice and Brewing Co. Shortly thereafter, at the International Exposition at Ghent, Belgium one of the beers he created in Houston, Southern Select, won the Grand Prize (out of 4,096 beers entered). After that, the brewery became the south’s biggest brewery, but prohibition put Brogniez out of a job. He was also a violin player and co-founded the Houston Symphony. During prohibition, he developed a honey-based ice cream called “Honey Boy Ice Cream,” and also did some brewing in Juarez, Mexico. After prohibition ended, Howard Hughes (yes, that one) persuaded Brogniez to be the brewmaster of his new Gulf Brewing Company in Houston, and he brought his recipe for Southern Select with him, and renamed it “Grand Prize Beer.” He ran Hughes’ brewery until he died in 1935, and afterwards his son Frank took his place at Gulf Brewing. Gulf was acquired by Hamm’s in 1953.
Here’s a biography from Find-a-Grave:
Frantz H. Brogniez was born at the family estate of Redemont, Haine – St. Paul, Belgium on October 26, 1860. He was an accomplished musician, chemist and Brewmaster. He married three times. Frantz first married Cornelie van der Hulst who bore him three children, two girls and a boy, I don’t know the girl’s names, the boy was Willie who died at a young age. They separated for unknown reasons. He then met Alida Mathilde Grymonprez, fell in love and in 1896 moved to the US for a fresh start. Alida bore him two children. They were Frantz (Frank) Philippe and Alida Mathilde. Alida fell sick and passed in 1903. Agreeing to Alida’s dying wishes, Frantz married Alida’s sister Alice Albertine Grymonprez who bore him two sons. They were Fernand Jules and Raymond Hector. Alice was 26 years his junior. Both Alida and Alice are interred here at Forest Park Cemetery with Frantz. Frantz passed away on October 11th 1935, just shy of 75 years, 2 years after Prohibition ended.
Some of Frantz’s accomplishments include winning the world’s Grand Prize for beer while Brewmaster at Houston Ice and Brewing’s Magnolia Brewery in 1913. Also in 1913, Frantz along with Miss Ima Hogg and Mrs. E. B. Parker formed the Houston Symphony. Lastly, Frantz was the original Brewmaster for Howard Hughes’ Gulf Brewery best known for its Grand Prize Beer.
And here’s another short one from Houston Past:
Frantz Brogniez was the Belgian-born brewmaster who turned the Houston Ice and Brewing Company into the largest brewing company south of Milwaukee, and later operated Howard Hughes’ Houston-based Gulf Brewing Company. In 1913, while he was serving as brewmaster at Houston Ice and Brewing, Brogniez beat out 4,096 other brewers around the world to win the Grand Prize at the International Congress ofBrewers. The beer for which was honored was Houston Ice and Brewing’s most popular, Southern Select. During Prohibition, Brogniez moved to El Paso and worked with brewing interests in Juarez. At the end of Prohibition, Hughes coaxed Brogniez back to Houston to oversee the operations of Hughes’ Gulf Brewing Company, which produced Grand Prize beer. Brogniez’ son, Frank, operated the brewery after his father’s death.
Frantz was born October 26, 1860, at Haine-Saint Paul, in Hainaut, Belgium. His father was a brewmaster and a 25 year member of the Belgian senate in Brussels.
Frantz was one of those rare very gifted and remarkably knowledgeable men, accomplished in bio-chemistry, engineering, music, and well versed in painting, sculpture and poetry. In 1881, Brogniez entered the University of Louvain and enrolled in “Special Sciences,” including engineering and biochemistry. He continued his studies at the Louis Pasteur Institute in France.
In 1882, Brogniez went to Lichterveld to work in a brewery. While there, he developed the first “blond” beer in Belgium.
He moved to Detroit Michigan in 1896 and established The Belgian Brewery. It was quickly renamed the Tivoli Brewery after he took on some investors. He befriended Henry Ford and often went riding with him. Frantz never learned how to drive.
He left Detroit in 1904 and moved to Terra Haute Indiana where he established the Peoples Brewery and supervised its design and construction. It grew to one of the largest in the nation at the time.
In 1912 he moved to Houston for the warmer climate for his chronically ill wife and became the brewmaster for Houston Ice and Brewing’s Magnolia Brewery. A year later they learned of the International Exposition at Ghent Belgium. The Exposition was held every couple of years and was a competition where beer from all over the world was put through a battery of tests. Frantz had some beer grabbed off the line and sent it with a friend that was traveling to Belgium. This particular year 4,096 beers were entered. Out of all these beers, Southern Select was the last one standing with 3 tests still to go. It won the Grand Prize. HI&B became the largest brewing company in the south. Frantz remained with HI&B until Prohibition ended his job.
Also in 1913, Frantz, Mrs. E. B. Parker and Miss Ima Hogg established the Houston Symphony. By this time he was a Mason and an Elk.
While WWI was going on around 1918, sugar was in short supply so Frantz was asked if he could develop a recipe for ice cream using something other than sugar for the sweetener. He developed what became Honey Boy Ice Cream made with honey. It was fairly popular. When WWI ended, the rights were sold to Reddig Ice. Honey Boy disappeared.
During Prohibition Frantz moved to El Paso Texas and brewed beer at Cerveseria Juarez in Juarez, Mexico. Some of these beers were award winners as well.
When it looked as if Prohibition was going to end in 1933, Frantz moved back to Houston where HI&B was trying to get back into the brewing business. It became obvious that HI&B had big plans and not much money. At the same time, Howard Hughes wanted to get into the brewing business thinking it would provide much needed jobs. Mr. Hughes enticed Frantz away from HI&B and formed Gulf Brewing. With little modification to an existing building they quickly installed a state of the art brewing facility of Frantz’s design. Grand Prize beer became a reality. It was named for the Grand Prize that Southern Select won. It was the same recipe as Southern Select. Grand Prize grew to be one of the south’s most popular beers.
Two years later at the age of 75, Frantz passed away in the arms of his son Frank with his family present.
Here’s a basic history of the Houston Ice and Brewing Co., which was also known as the Magnolia Brewery, from Houston Past:
The Magnolia Ballroom building on the Franklin Street side of Market Square (715 Franklin) was built in 1912, on the foundation of an older building (the Franklin Building), and once housed the taproom and executive offices for the Houston Ice and Brewing Co.’s Magnolia Brewery. The building was the first in Houston to have refrigerator-style air conditioning. In 2006, it became the first commercial building in Houston to receive the Houston Protected Landmark designation.
By 1915, the Houston Ice and Brewing Company encompassed more than 10 buildings on more than 20 acres located on both sides of Buffalo Bayou. In fact, the brewery even spanned the bayou for some period of time – the Louisiana Street bridge now crosses the bayou at the same location. To provide easier access across the bayou, the brewery built a 250-foot wood and concrete bridge stretching from the Franklin Street bridge toward the Milam Street bridge.
The Magnolia Brewery produced a number of signature brands of beer, including (it is reported) Magnolia, Richelieu, Hiawatha, Grand Prize, and Southern Select (the latter being the most famous). In 1913, brewmaster Frantz Brogniez was awarded Grand Prize at the last International Conference of Breweries for his Southern Select beer – beating out 4,096 competing brewers from around the world. In 1919, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the labeling on one of the Houston Ice and Brewing Company’s brands did not infringe upon a Schlitz trademark. (Having noted that the similarities in the two bottles were limited to their content and brown labels, the Court stated: “If there were deception it seems to us that it would arise from beer and brown color and that it could not be said that the configuration appreciably helped.”)
The company’s decline began during Prohibition, when the Houston Ice and Brewing Company was forced to rely solely on its ice sales. Many of the brewery’s structures were then destroyed in the historic 1935 flood, which was later blamed on the Magnolia Brewery bridge. The brewery struggled to survive, but closed in 1950.
The Magnolia Ballroom is just one of two Houston Ice and Brewing Company buildings that remains standing. In 1969, a high-end restaurant called the Bismark was located on the second floor, and the Buffalo Bayou Flea Market operated out of the basement. The basement has since housed a variety of bars and clubs. The upstairs floors are currently used for special events – much of the ornate interior of the building has been preserved, and it is decorated with historic photos.
And here’s some more about the Gulf Brewing Co., founded by Howard Hughes, also from Houston Past:
Howard Hughes’ connection with the Houston-based Hughes Tool Company is fairly well-known. It is less well-known that Hughes started a brewery in Houston, on the grounds of the Hughes Tool Company, called Gulf Brewing Company. Hughes opened the brewery at the end of Prohibition, and its profits helped the tool company survive the Depression.
Gulf Brewing Company produced Grand Prize beer, which for a time was the best-selling beer in Texas. It has been reported that a beer called Grand Prize beer was also produced prior to Prohibition, by the Houston Ice and Brewing Company. While that may be accurate, any confusion is likely connected to the fact that Hughes’ Grand Prize brewery was operated by the man who served as brewmaster at Houston Ice and Brewing before Prohibition. In 1913, while he was brewmaster at the Houston Ice and Brewing Company, Belgian-Houstonian Frantz Brogniez was awarded Grand Prize at the last International Conference of Breweries for his Southern Select beer – beating out 4,096 competing brewers. Brogniez left Houston during Prohibition, but Hughes convinced him to return to serve as brewmaster for the Gulf Brewing Company. Brogniez’ son operated the brewery after his father’s death.
Today is the 66th birthday of Armand Debelder, master blender and owner of Proef 3 Fonteinen — a.k.a. Drie Fonteinen — a lambic brewery and blendery making traditional geuze and kriek in Beersal, Belgium. According to their U.S. importer, Shelton Brothers:
Drie Fonteinen is the only remaining traditional geuze blender in Belgium, using only 100% spontaneously fermented lambik beer, aged in oak casks, with no artificial sweeteners or other additives. The blendery is connected to the very popular Drie Fonteinen Restaurant in Beersel, on the outskirts of Brussels. The proprietor, Armand Debelder, buys pure lambik from three breweries in Belgium, ages them in oak, and blends them, employing the skill, knowledge, and supreme passion for real geuze that his father handed down to him.
I had a chance to meet and talk with Armand a couple of times during Philly Beer Week a few years ago. And, of course, his beer is amazingly good. Join me in wishing Armand a very happy birthday.
Today is the 46th birthday of Luc De Raedemaeker, who’s the Tasting Director for the Brussels Beer Challenge, the Dutch Beer Challenge and also the owner of BIERinhuis. I first met Luc in D.C. when Stephen Beaumont introduced us during CBC, and then we judged together in Japan a few years ago, and I’ve also been privileged to judge at the BBC the last few years. We generally run into one another several times a year, both in the states and in Belgium, and he’s always fun to share a beer or three with. Earlier this summer, his family stayed with us for a week while they were on vacation in the states, and had a grand time. Join me in wishing Luc a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Alexander Rodenbach (September 28, 1786-August 17, 1869). He was a co-founder of Brouwerij Rodenbach, along with his brothers. His younger brother Pedro Rodenbach was a military officer and fought in the Battle of Waterloo. When he left the army in 1818, he married a brewer’s daughter, Regina Wauters, who was from Mechelen in Belgium. After Pedro’s father died, he and his brothers, Alexander, Ferdinand and Constantijn, bought a brewery in Roeselare. When their agreed-upon partnership ended after fifteen years, Pedro and Regina bought them out. It was originally called Brasserie et Malterie Saint-Georges. Afterward, Alexander opposed King Willem I and became a member of the National Congress, a position he held for 38 years, and for 25 years was also the mayor of Rumbeke, in Western Belgium. He also went blind as a youngster, when he was eleven, and was an advocate for helping the blind throughout his life.
This is a translation of his French Wikipedia page:
Alexander descends from a family of medieval German knights, the Van Rodenbachs. His father Jean had four sons: Ferdinand (1773-1841), Alexander (1786-1869), Constantin-Francois (? -1846) and Pierre (? -1848). Alexandre was born in Roeselare in 1786. With blindness at the age of 11, he will develop his other senses. He became the pupil of Valentin Haüy, then propagated the system of writing and teaching invented by Haüy.
In 1820, he bought a small brewery in his hometown. This brewery takes the name of Rodenbach and will last until its acquisition in 1998 by Palm Breweries. A beer tribute to the brewery is called Alexander Rodenbach in honor of the founder.
He began his political commitment around 1826 in the Catholic opposition movement against King William, notably by petitions. He earned the nickname “the blind man of Roeselare”. With his brothers Pierre and Constantin, they helped to create the “Catholic movement of the Netherlands”.
In parallel, Alexandre continues his actions with the blind by becoming involved with teaching methods and Catholic schools.
In 1830 Alexander and his brother Constantine entered politics in the Catholic and congressional movement of the Chamber of Deputies. Alexander was re-elected until May 1866.
His brothers also make less careers in politics. Ferdinand was commissioner of the arrondissement of Ypres from 1831 to 1841 (date of his death); Constantine is deputy with Alexander and then becomes ambassador to Athens; Pierre made a career in the army from 1826, when he created a corps of volunteers, up to the rank of captain.
Among his actions as a politician, he participated in the founding of the Institute of Blind and Deaf-mutes in Brussels, he manages the typhus and famine crisis of 1846-1847, he is a member of the commission Agriculture Superior of Belgium.
He died in Rumbeke in 1869. He was the burgomaster of Rumbeke from 1844 until his death in 1869.
And this is the history currently on the brewery website:
Entrepreneur, statesman, author, people’s representative, burgomaster. Unmarried. Went blind in his youth. Ran the brewery from 1821. Wrote scathing petitions against the policy of William I and in favour of freedom of speech and the press. Was instrumental in the Revolution in Roeselare in 1830 and supported his brothers Constantijn and Pedro in Brussels. Elected as a member of the Constitutional congress. As a parliamentarian, campaigned for the economic development of West Flanders, including railway and canal construction in Roeselare. Enjoyed a reputation in Europe for his books on teaching the blind and the deaf-and-dumb. Was multilingual, wrote poems and books, played the piano, was an art lover and a pragmatic revolutionary.
This biography is from the “National Biography of Belgium, XIX,” published in 1907:
RODENBACH (Alexander), politician, publicist and philanthropist, born in Roeselare, of a family originally from the Grand Duchy of Hesse, September 28, 1786, died at Rumbeke on August 17, 1869.
He was the second son of Jean Rodenbach and the brother of Ferdinand, Constantin Francis and Peter.
Alexander lost sight at the age of eleven, and it was in vain that his father, a notable merchant of Roeselare, submitted him to four operations by the best oculists of the time, including the celebrated Dubois, the surgeon of Napoleon. He was raised in Paris at the Museum of the Blind, founded and directed by Valentin Haüy. Endowed with energy and tenacity in every way, Rodenbach learned to be initiated into those arts which his unhappiness seemed to forbid him: dancing, riding and swimming. He applied himself particularly to developing the acuity of his senses, and Haüy soon counted him among his best pupils. So when King Louis of Holland asked the illustrious protector of the blind in 1807, one of his disciples to propagate his method to the school at Amsterdam, Haüy sent him Rodenbach, so much the better in this task that his knowledge of Dutch made it considerably easier for him to teach. About 1810 he returned to Roeselare, where he devoted himself to the industry and commerce of his parents. In 1828 he published his Letter on the Blind, following that of Diderot, and the following year his “Glance of a blind man on the deaf and dumb”; he later resumed this last subject in “The blind and the deaf-mute” (1853) which had two years after a second edition. a blind man on deaf-mutes “; he later resumed this last subject in “The blind and the deaf-mute” (1853) which had two years after a second edition. a blind man on deaf-mutes “; he later resumed this last subject in “The blind and the deaf-mute” (1853) which had two years after a second edition.
In 1829 Rodenbach proved, against Dewez and Barante, that it was at West Roosebeke , at the foot of the Keyaertsberg , that Philippe Van Artevelde was beaten and killed. Then he published his “Record on phonography or musical telegraphic language,” and some time after his “Historical and Geographical Notices on the City of Roeselare”.
Towards 1826, lthe Catholic opposition had redoubled its attacks against the government of King William, particularly on the laws of education. From the beginning, Alexander and Constantine Rodenbach actively collaborated with the “Catholic of the Netherlands” and contributed to the petitioning movement. “The Blind of Roeselare,” it was the name by which Alexander was designated, made this city a center of petitioning. At the first sound of the revolution, while his brother Pierre was rushing to Brussels to organize a body of volunteers, Alexander kept up the agitation inWest-Flanders. During and on the September days he went with Ferdinand to Lille, where, in concert with Bartholomew Dumortier, he summoned an assembly of the banished (September 27, 1830). While Pierre Rodenbach brought Louis de Potter back to Brussels, Alexander returned to Bruges, where he organized the revolution with Adolphe Bartels. He caused the Dutch garrison to be disbanded by his inflamed proclamation addressed to the non-commissioned officers of the army, and carried to the barracks by canvassers.
On the 4th of November, the inhabitants of Roulers sent him to sit at the National Congress, with Constantine his brother. In the following elections, he was elected deputy and bedroom until May 1866.
At the Congress, Alexander strongly supported the project of expulsion of the Nassau presented by his brother. Both voted for the Duke of Leuchtenberg, and then supported the regent’s hesitant policy. In 1831, while Constantine gave his voice to Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, Alexander refused to vote for this prince “convinced,” said he, “that he has too much honor to accept the crown under the humiliating conditions of the Holy Alliance He. More tenacious than his brother, who approved the eighteen articles, he signed the protest of 29 June 1831 and voted against the violation of the integrity of the territory. We see that Rodenbach displayed great parliamentary activity.
Later, he contributed powerfully to the erection of an Institute of the blind and deaf-mutes in Brussels, where he had his improvements adopted in the system of Haüy. As a protector of the blind and deaf-mutes, he introduced in the discussion of the communal law an amendment which obliges the communal councils to pay annually to the budget of their expenses maintenance and instruction costs for the blind and the deaf-mute indigents.
After the reorganization of the state universities at Liege and Ghent (September 27, 1835), it was Alexander Rodenbach who negotiated the translation of the Catholic university, founded at Mechelen in 1834, at Louvain (December 1, 1835). On December 27, 1841, he lost his brother Ferdinand (b. 3 May 1773), commissioner for ten years in the arrondissement of Ypres; in 1846, Constantine, ambassador at Athens; in 1848, Pierre, retired captain. These bereavements did not destroy his energy. As burgomaster of Rumbeke, he rendered immense services to the whole population of the district during the disastrous years from 1846 to 1847, when famine and typhus decimated Flanders. At bedroom, Alexander supported the abolition of the stamp of the newspapers and demanded the reduction of their port to a penny and that of the letters to ten centimes. At that time he was appointed member of the superior agricultural commission of the kingdom.
In October 1855, The Imperial Institute of the Young Blind in Paris organized a great festival in his honor, and he delivered a discourse full of encouragement to his young companions in misfortune. On August 10, 1861, he represented Belgium at the inauguration of the statue of Haüy, in Paris.
In 1858, a painful incident, which his author might have avoided, came to quarrel with Rodenbach, with one of his old friends, like himself a zealous philanthropist. J. Cappron, director of the Institute of the Deaf and Dumb in Antwerp, had composed a Flemish work, based chiefly on the work of M. de Gérando, “Memoirs on the instruction of the deaf mutes” (Paris, 1827) and had dedicated it to Rodenbach. Abbe C. Carton of Bruges thought he saw a plagiarism, and accused the author of literary insincerity in a strange letter, to which the blind man of Roeselius replied on March 30, 1858. Carton replied bitterly, insinuating that Rodenbach was unaware of these issues. Cappronintervened in the debate and proved that Carton, in his “Crowned Memory of the Academy of Belgium,” had himself borrowed much from de Gerando. The quarrel remained there.
It was also around this time that Rodenbach had a curious interview in Lille with the famous deaf-mute Jean Massieu , director of an institution for the blind in Lille.
Early the great philanthropist, who enjoyed the general esteem of his fellow-citizens, also excited the admiration of the stranger. His tenacity, his energy in misfortune, his vast intelligence had created a European fame, and visitors from all quarters came to solicit an interview with him in his modest village of Rumbeke. In 1835 he had obtained the cross and was appointed, in 1854, an officer of the order of Leopold. In the same year he received the decorations of St. Michael of Bavaria, Danebrog, Wasa, Christ of Portugal and the Rose from Brazil. The following year, Spain appointed him commander of the Order of Charles III., And the Pope created him Knight of St. Gregory the Great. In 1856 he was appointed knight of the Medjidie of Turkey, of Saint-Maurice of Sardinia, of Saint-Georges of Parma, of the Savior of Greece, of Francis I of the Two Sicilies; Napoleon III granted him the cross ofthe Legion of honor.
Alexandre Rodenbach, by his high qualities, was one of the most beautiful Belgium independent. His life will tell all the disinherited of nature what the will can do, even against the most unfortunate of infirmities. His name, inseparable from those of Haüy and Braille, will be honored like that of a benefactor of humanity.
His posthumous work, “Aide-Mémoire de l’aveugle de Roulers”, was published at Merchtem in 1870 by his nephew, Felix Rodenbach, then receiver of the recording at Ixelles (born in Roulers in 1827, living in Bruges), who wrote several books on recording rights.
The brewery began brewing a beer named for Alexander in 1986, and have subsequently brought it back from time to time:
RODENBACH Alexander was brewed for the first time in 1986 on the occasion of Alexander Rodenbach’s 200th birthday and is now back by popular demand to the delight of beer lovers here and abroad. Its aftertaste is reminiscent of a Burgundy wine and its freshness makes this beer the perfect aperitif or accompaniment to cheeses or dessert.
Today is the birthday of Marc Lemay, who runs Brasserie Dubuisson Frères in Pipaix, Belgium. I first met Marc at a beer dinner in Chicago several years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. Best of all, after another dinner at the Belgium Brewers Guild house in the Grand Place a few years ago — where inexplicably no frites were served, a unpardonable sin, especially in Belgium — and so afterwards, Marc took me too his favorite late night frites spot in Brussels (which I’ve been back to several times since). Marc’s a terrific person (plus I love his beer). Join me in wishing Marc a very happy birthday.
Marc in 2013 showing off a bottle of Cuvee des Trolls.
Pouring us some beer during a lunch at the Dubuisson brewery.