Recently I listed a few old Belgian beer types that have made a comeback after a long period of absence. I can do the same with some brands. Discontinued long ago, outcompeted by Stella and Jupiler, but not forgotten. Luckily, it seems there’s always someone who wants to bring such a lost beer back. Because it tasted so good, because it was locally renowned or: because it was on tv.
This brown beer blended with lambic was particularly popular with the students of Leuven. According to the brewery, Jack-Op was beneficial to the learning process, though it seems it only worked the next day… In the second half of the 19th century, Jack-Op was created by Felix van Roost in Werchter, which made him Belgium’s fifth largest brewer at the eve of the First World War.
In 1965 however, the brewery closed its doors, and the brand ended up at AB InBev, which ceased its production in 2007. Then, the mayor of Rotselaar (of which the town of Werchter is a part) pulled some strings and obtained permission to have Jack-Op brewed again, this time by Frank Boon. It is only available in Werchter and surroundings.
Oudenaarde in East-Flanders is a town with an long beer history. Particularly well-known is of course the Liefmans brewery, but there were more. Another famous one for instance was Petre Devos, which excelled with its beers but in the 1920s and 1930s also with its modern design. So much that one of the brewery’s old posters ended up as part of the set of tv sitcom The Big Bang Theory (see image at page top). By then, the brewery had closed long ago, but in 2016, three enthusiasts managed to cultivate an age-old yeast sample, thus reconstructing the Trio Triple.
Although the company’s name was a reference to the English-style beers made there, the Anglo Belge brewery in Zulte in East-Flanders also produced a well-known Flemish old brown beer, matured in oak vats. For a small town, this was quite a large brewery, which also enjoyed success with its Anglo Pils, Rossbräu Dortmunder and BIP-cola. After a few takeovers, they closed shop in 1989. Vincent Versele, great-grandson of one of the brewery’s founders, brought the Zulte beer back on the market in 2016. Again as a red-brown aged, mixed-fermentation beer.
This brand brewed by Pieraerts in Tienen in Brabant, was a pale, moderately hopped sweet beer. As three of the brewery’s five founding partners were doctors of medicine, it was also known as ‘doctors’ beer’. The name itself means ‘sow’, or a female pig, although the reason for this is shrouded in mystery. By 1955, the brewery went bust, but in 2010 the Zoeg beer was revived by local entrepreneur Miel Mattheus. Now, there even is a very real Zoeg comic book available.
It’s a classic, but one that had disappeared off the market for quite a while. In the 19th and early 20th century, faro was the popular beer of Brussels: blended, sweetened lambic, which was gulped down in large quantities by labourers and craftsmen alike. With the emergence of the more upmarket and drier gueuze, faro fell out of favour. In 1978 the Lindemans brewery in Vlezenbeek revived its faro, which met with considerable success, not in the least for the exports market.