Today is the birthday of Albertus Carolus “Albert” Moortgat (August 2, 1890-September 14, 1983). He was the youngest son of Jan Léonardus Moortgat, who founded the brewery which became known as Duvel Moortgat. Albert took over the brewery around 1914 and in 1917 created their iconic beer, Duvel, although they didn’t call it that until 1923.
This is his entry from Dutch Wikipedia, which I altered somewhat so it reads more naturally.
Albert’s father first left the management of the brewery to his brother Joseph (1875-1914), but after his early death he left the management to Albert. The first Duvel was brewed in 1917, but it was not until 1923 that the beer was marketed under that name. Albert went to Scotland to learn how to make this beer and initially called it “Victory Ale.”
In 1921 Moortgat became mayor of Breendonk. Moortgat remained mayor until he was arrested in September 1944, during the Allied liberation of Belgium, and accused of collaboration with the German occupier. He was sentenced to four years in March 1946, but he was released at the end of August 1947.
In 1917 Albert Moortgat married Virginie Plaskie (1891-1977), a daughter of a brewer from Ramsdonk. They had 12 children.
This account of the early history of the brewery is from the company’s website:
It all began when Jan-Léonard Moortgat and his wife founded the Moortgat brewery farm in 1871. Around the turn of the century, Moortgat was one of the over 3,000 breweries operating in Belgium.
Jan-Leonard experimented by trial and error, and his top-fermented beers were soon greatly appreciated in the brewery’s home town of Puurs and far beyond. Before long, the Brussels bourgeoisie was also won over by his beers.
Business was booming and Jan-Leonard’s two sons, Albert and Victor, joined the company. There was a clear division of labour: Albert became the brewer, Victor was responsible for delivering the beer to Brussels by horse and dray.
The First World War brought Belgium into contact with England and especially with English ales, which were quite popular at the time.
Inspired by the success of English ales, Albert decided to create a special beer based on the English model.
To create this type of ale, Albert wanted to work with only the best ingredients.
He travelled to the UK to get the specific strain of yeast he wanted and initially met with considerable resistance from the local brewers. It was only after a veritable odyssey across England that he was finally able to get his hands on a precious sample from a Scottish brewery. Our yeast is still cultured from the very same strain to this day!
The two brothers continued to search and experiment until they had perfected the recipe.
To commemorate the end of the First World War, the new beer was initially dubbed ‘Victory Ale’.
Today, of course, it’s known as “Duvel.”