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Hoegaarden (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2012-10-06 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Hoegaarden]

Municipal flag of Hoegaarden - Image by Filip van Laenen, 28 October 2001

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Presentation of Hoegaarden

The municipality of Hoegaarden (6,226 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,393 ha) is located 20 km south-east of Leuven. The municipality of Hoegaarden is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Hoegaarden, Meldert and Outgaarden.

In the early Middle Ages, Hoegaarden belonged to the County of Brunengruz. At the end of the 10th century, Countess Alpaïdis founded the canons' chapter of Huardis. After the Countess' death in 987, Emperor Otto III transferred Brunengruz to Notger, Bishop of Liège, so that Hoegaarden formed a Liège enclave within Brabant. The village was eventually incorporated to Brabant after the French Revolution.

The origin of the unusual town's wealth is the brewery, already mentioned in 1318. The wise Bishop of Liège did not perceive any tax on beer produced in his Brabantian enclave, whereas the Duke of Brabant heavily taxed the brewers from the neighbouring town of Tirlemont (known today under its Dutch name of Tienen and mostly famous for its sugar mill). Accordingly, several brewers moved to Hoegaarden: in 1726, the town had some 2,000 inhabitants but 36 breweries, mostly producing white beer, and 110 malt factories. The increased popularity of the pils beers caused the decline of Hoegaarden, where the last brewery producing white beer, Tomsin, closed in 1957. A Tomsin's neighbour and former milkman, Pierre Celis could not accept this and resurrected the white beer tradition in 1966 at the De Kluis brewery, as the Hoegarden Wit. The new brewery was destroyed by a blaze in 1985 and rebuilt with the funds of the Artois group, later incorporated into Interbrew, today InBev. In September 2005, InBev delocalized the production of the beer from the historical De Kluis brewery to its giant factory of Jupille, causing a burst of anger in Flanders.

White beer is brewed using a mixture of barley malt and non-malted wheat, the latter being responsible of the "pale" aspect of the beer. The Hoegaarden Wit is not filtered, so that the bottles contain living yeasts forming a natural trouble when the beer is served. The beer is perfurmed with coriander and orange peels. With an alcohol content of 5%, the Hoegaarden Wit shall be served in its genuine, hexagonal glas.
The Hoegaarden Wit has became very popular, mostly thanks to very humoristic advertizing campaigns, sometimes relying on Belgian jokes. The last campaign in French played on the complicated name of the beer, nearly impossible to pronounce and to write correctly for a French (even after quite a few beers!).


Ivan Sache, 21 July 2007

Municipal flag of Hoegaarden

The municipal flag of Hoegaarden is horizontally divided blue-yellow-blue.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 5 March 1982, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 2 September 1985, and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.
The colours of the flag, also the traditional colours of the Nassau family, are taken from the municipal coat of arms.

According to Servais [svm55a], the arms of Hoegaarden, granted by Royal Decree on 29 May 1838, are "Azure a dextrochere with a stole holding a bishop's crozier, all or". The right arm holding a crozier has been depicted on all known municipal seals since 1289, whereas it was written in 1288 that the municipality had then no seal. The arms and crozier is a straightforward symbol of the power exerted by the Bishop of Liège on the enclave of Hoegaarden. As shown on the municipal website, the arms of Hoegaarden were not changed after the municipal reform of 1976.
The well-known logotype of the Hoegaarden brewery, shown for instance on the labels and glasses, is made of two coats of arms. The right one is the municipal coat of arms whereas on the left one, the crozier is replaced by something like a brewer's tool.

In Het Nieuwsblad, 25 June 2012 (article), Raymond Billen announces the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the municipal flag of Hoegaarden, scheduled to 8 July 2012, and gives details on the former flag and on the adoption of the present-day's flag.
Before the adoption of the horizontally divided blue-yellow-blue flag, Hoegaarden used a white-blue flag. The word of mouth claims that the flag was borrowed from the municipal administration of the neighbouring town of Tienen; however, why the flag of Hoegaarden had only two stripes while the flag of Tienen had (and still has) three (blue-white-blue) stripes is yet a matter of speculation.
In the 1970s, the new Municipal Council challenged the white-blue flag, replacing it with the (blue-)yellow-blue flag, using the colors of the municipal arms. On 31 May 1972, Het Nieuwsblad announced the adoption of the new colours, insinuating that the marriage of a Municipal Councillor from the "yellow" party with a woman from a family supporting the "blue" party played a significant role in the adoption of the new flag. Mayor Roger Kerrijn denied this nice and convenient story.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 25 July 2012