One of the things that Belgians are really proud of is definitely our incredible beers! It is fair to say that Belgian beer is pretty much the best beer in the world, don’t you agree? Sure, you do! That’s why we wrote a well-brewed article dedicated to our beloved Belgian beer for the occasion of the International Beer Day (7 August, guess you knew it already)! You think you already know everything about it? That’s also what Matias, our beer enthusiast at Imagine Belgium thought! Spoiler alert: he was wrong! Here are seven facts that make Belgian beer the best (obviously). Cheers!
Beer is way older than pyramids
We would have been so proud if only beer was born in Belgium! Unfortunately for us, it is not the case. In fact, it all began in Mesopotamia… around 5,000 BC! Sure, it was not the type of beer we drink nowadays but it was still the beginning of brewing! There is no written proof of the appearance of beer in Belgium though, but it is said that it arrived after a long trip passing by Egypt, the Roman Empire and then in Gaul.
Did you know that Julius Caesar once said that Belgians from the North of Gaul were the bravest enemies he’s ever faced? Sure it was thanks to our incredible recipes of beers (of course)!
The first brewers were not monks
Can you guess who were the very first brewers in the world? Women, that’s right! Indeed, as brewing was first considered as a household work, women were in fact the first brewers (#girlpower)! It is only later in the Middle Ages that monks started doing beer brewing as a real artisanal activity in countries where wine wasn’t that easy to produce like in Belgium (the only thing that Frenchies beat us at, of course).
Belgium has the greatest number of Trappist beers
We cannot talk about Belgian beer without talking about Trappist beers! Nowadays there are only 12 Trappist beers in the world with the logo « Authentic Trappist Product ». Fortunately for us, six of them are brewed in Belgium! Generation after generation, six Belgian abbeys continue to brew Trappist beers under the supervision of monks who keep following the ancestral process. Achel, Chimay, La Trappe, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle or Westvleteren, Belgian Trappist beers are a real national treasure and our abbeys too!
Belgian beer is now internationally recognised!
Our Belgian beer culture is now internationally well known and the consecration came in 2016 when Unesco inscribed our beer culture as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity! Cheers to that!
Around 1,500 beer brands in Belgium
We have our own Belgian beer pilgrimage
Did you know that there are many great outdoor walks leading to the finest breweries and abbeys in the country? It’s like a pilgrimage, but instead of Santiago de Compostela or Mecca we can go to hundreds of breweries and abbeys, so in some ways it’s even better (or bitter, like beer).
Go check the Randos Bière in Belgium Guidebook written by Pauline Moulin alias Madame Bougeotte. She compiled 40 beer walks all around the country, that’s almost a walk per week! What are you waiting for? Put your shoes on and start a beer walk this summer!
Our Brasserie Cantillon still brews beers like in 1900
The Brasserie Cantillon is a world-famous brewery. Why? It is because the family brewers still use the same artisanal process since 1900! Nowadays it is hard to believe that the Cantillon’s spontaneous-fermentation beers were considered “old fashioned” back in the time!
As Jean-Pierre Van Roy, alias Mister Cantillon uses to say: “In the past I almost had to break down doors to sell my beer, and now people are besieging Cantillon Brewery just to buy a bottle.” You should definitely try their traditional Gueuze-Lambic and visit the brewery to learn all the secrets of their lambic brewing!
In conclusion what makes Belgian beer the best in the world is all about its ingredients that were added through the time, its quality craftsmanship and its brewers with their never-ending creativity. And of course, Belgian beer is also the result of a true love story with every Belgian-beer-drinkers !
We dearly thank Magali, guide speaker and beer expert from Zythomania for her precious help.
Happy International Beer Day everyone!🇧🇪🍻