Duvel Buys Liefmans

Moortgat, the company that makes Duvel, has agreed to buy Liefmans.

Liefmans has been in existence since Jacob Liefmans established his brewery in Oudenaarde in 1770, but the brewery declared bankruptcy and stopped production in late 2007.

Duvel acquired a large portion of the assets of Liefmans, including all the machinery, all brands and recipes. According to a company press release, Duvel will concentrate on Liefmans brown ales and fruit beers brewed in Oudenaarde. Several of the beers have gone back in production and will return to distribution in the near future.

Duvel remains in negotiation for the real estate in Oudenaarde and will invest to revitalize the production site and the well-known visitors’ center when the acquisition is complete. The price of the transaction, including real estate, is 4.5 million euros, or $7.1 million.

Unlike many of the other mergers I've mentioned recently, this is probably good news. Liefmans makes Flemish (or Flanders) brown ale, and is pretty much the only extant commercial example still brewing in Belgium (there are others, but in few cases is one brewery so closely linked to a style). Despite what the article says, Jackson writes that the brewery in Oudenaarde goes back to 1679--a hundred years before Jacob Liefmans bought it--based on tax records he has personally examined. Like some of the other historic breweries of Belgium, this is an international treasure, a brewing museum, and would have been a catastrophic loss had it not been plucked up. That Moortgat, a small fish dedicated to brewing high-end beer, snapped it up instead of InBev, could one day be regarded as a stroke of miraculous fortune.