This independent family brewery traces its origins back to 1629, when, for the first time, a document mentioned the local castle was adjacent to a brewery. Indeed, at that time, the noble family living in the castle secured the right to call themselves the "Earls of Watou".
During the French Revolution the plundering French troops burned the castle and the brewery. The noble family escaped the guillotine by running off to England. Only the brewery was rebuilt by a local farmer in the same year of the destruction, under the slogan "Revolt all you want, but we still need beer here." The brewery was named "In de Gouden Leeuw" (In the Golden Lion), which is a wordplay in French. Many country inns in France are named "Au Lion d’Or" (in the Golden Lion), but the pronunciation is exactly the same as "au lit on dort" (in the bed one sleeps). The brewery in Watou had of course also its own pub, and offered room for travelers. Not understanding the French wordplay, the local farmer called his establishment in Dutch the "Gouden Leeuw", as he must have seen so many such names in France, but ruined the wordplay at the same time.
Through marriage the Van Eecke family became the masters of the brewery in 1862, where they brewed top fermenting country ales. The brewery had only a local significance until well after WW II. With the revival of the authentic local ales in combination with TV and modern marketing in the 1960's, the beautiful delicious beers of the brewery became a hot commodity in bars and fine restaurants all around Belgium and Northern France.