The story behind the beer’s name – Zot – dates back to 1486. At that time the relationship between the ruling Maximilian of Austria and the town of Bruges was not too good. The disgruntled townspeople had even imprisoned the king for three months.
Later, in order to try and regain lost priveleges the people of Bruges organized a colorful parade of merrymakers and fools to welcome Maximilian back to their town. At the end of the day the townspeople asked if a yearly fair could be held which could raise money for a new madhouse. Maximilian replied, ”today I have seen nothing but fools. Close all the town gates and you will have your madhouse within.” Since then the people of Bruges have been known as ‘Brugse Zotten’ (fools of Bruges).
The brewery itself, although not as old as the story, goes back a long way; in 1564 the town register mentions the existence of the brewery ‘Die Maene’ (The Moon) on the Walplein. Leon Maes acquired the property in 1856 and turned it into a modern brewery. Since then six generations have carried on his aim to offer superior beer both in quality and in taste while respecting the traditional brewery art.
Today De Halve Maan (Half Moon) brewery is the only operating brewery in the old town and since 2005 when full brewing activiies were resumed it has been producing the blonde and dubbel version of Zot.
According to the Halve Mann website, Brugse Zot double is highly appreciated by beer lovers. I can agree with this statement, the draft version I had was a very refreshing dark (reddish brown) beer with a good malt backbone (6 special kinds of malt, I’m told); mild bitter chocolate taste and some sweet dark fruit with spice that succumbs to a fairly long bitterness from the Saaz hops. Reminded me of a stronger version of a good Czech dark beer. 7,5% alc.vol.
Don’t miss out on the chance to drink this foolish beer at the brewery when you’re next in Brugge!