Mort Subite, Kobbegem

The history of what eventually became the Mort Subite brand name starts in 1869 when Johanna Philipina Bastaerts married Jan Fransiscus De Keersmaeker, a farmer. Johanna had inherited what was previously a brewery from her brother, and Jan soon became a part of it. The Bastaerts-De Keersmaeker family had five children, including three sons. One son, Felix Jan De Keersmaeker (1840–1912) eventually inherited the brewery. Felix, who married twice, had one son named Hubert (1896–1945) who took over the brewery at a young age after the death of his father.

After the end of the First World War, Hubert was called to complete his compulsory military service as a solider stationed in Germany. There he learned about German brewing methods and styles. Upon his return, Hubert returned to brewing both lambic as well as top-fermented beers. His top fermented beers eventually became popular under the name Hert Ale, and he decided to sell his gueuze under the name Gueuze Den Hert which lasted until 1971.

Throughout the middle part of the 20th century the De Keersmaeker family both farmed and brewed. In 1936, a completely new brewing system was ordered. By the time it was ready, World War II had broken out and Hubert managed to hide the as of yet uninstalled kettles under piles of straw when the Germans invaded in the spring of 1940. Hubert was elected mayor of Kobbegem in 1932, and remained in office until his accidental death in 1945.

Despite this tragedy, Hubert’s widow, along with their four children, decided to continue the expansion that was planned before Hubert’s death. Construction began in 1950 and a new brewing hall was ready for use in 1952, which is still in use during the winter months today. Of Hubert’s four sons, his oldest son Paul went to work at the brewery. His brother André joined him in 1958 after he finished his military service. The start of Paul’s political career came in 1958 after being elected mayor of Kobbegem. The demands of his political career would later compel him to sell his shares in the brewery completely. Though the De Keersmaeker Pils beer ballooned to 60% of the overall production by 1960, its popularity eventually fell, and by 1972 André was back to producing just lambic.

The Mort Subite name appeared two years previously in 1970, when a well-known Brussels café and geuze blending business A la Mort Subite was taken over from the Vossen brothers, some of which was purchased from the De Keersmaeker brewery. Eventually, De Keersmaeker took over the name and Geuze Den Hert became Geuze Mort Subite.

In 1989, Paul De Keersmaeker sold his half of the brewery to the Alken-Maes group. 

When the Alken-Maes group was taken over by Scottish & New Castle, André decided it was time to sell his share in the brewery and move on. Thus, the De Keersmaeker name was out of the brewing business.

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