In the 19th century the village of Neerijse, situated 11 km south of Leuven, had two breweries. One was called ‘De Kroon’, the other ‘ St Pieter’.
The St Pieter brewery was built by the family Decoster around 1762, near the river IJse. The water of the river was one of the basic elements for the production of the local beer. The brewery was sold several times and the name St Pieter was given in the early 1900’s when the family Bruffaerts took over the brewing business. The beer was marketed under several names, e.g. Christmas, Spéciale Bruffaerts, Overlord Pale Ale, Staff Ale, St Pieters White and Super.
The brewery site also had a farm as the employees and workers at the brewery were paid in receiving meat and vegetables, grown at the farm of the brewery. During decades, the farmer was breeding cows, sheep and pigs next to the Belgian endives production. This farmhouse, already existing in 1825, is now the Biesbemd.
The name of the Biesbemd is based on history books, naming the land of and around the brewery, the Biesbemd. The name is split in two parts: Bies and Bemd. Bemd is derived from beemd and means land, field. Bies is a long, stiff plant growing at the riverbank. The bies was used – after drying – to make baskets and chair seats, also to give model to the skirts in the Middle Ages.
The street itself was first called Molenstraat (Mill street), later changed into Kamstraat. Kam being an old Flemish word for brewery.