The culture of the beer in Belgium
A little story of...
From the 13th to the 14th centuryThe consumption of the beer goes back up well before the birth of the Kingdom of Belgium.
It is at 13th century that the beer made its debuts. Coming from other ancient civilizations, it was considered as the drink of the people. Before it was commercialized across the country, it was primarily a family affair, with know-how passed down from generation to generation. Beer becomes popular at 14th and 15th century, with breweries multiplying until the 16th century: the Golden Age of beer.
Brasserie Cantillon before
Its commercialization thus gave rise to large breweries run by guilds but also by abbeys. In the 17th century, beer had become generalized to the point that consumption could reach up to 400 liters per person. Beer has become the drink of the people, and has thus experienced a meteoric rise in Belgian society.
From the 16th century to the 20th century:
- Some guilds of brewery was destroyed with the French Revolution over the period from 1792 to 1794.
- World Wars has destroyed more an half of the existing breweries in the country. In 1900, Belgium had 3,223 breweries. The First World War reduced the number of breweries to 2,109, the second to 789.
- With the arrival of intensive industrialization and commercialization, costs are added to the production of beer: staff costs, raw material increase, export costs, etc. Which made that to overcome the slope it was very difficult.
From the 20th century to today:
The know-how of the traditional breweries still existing today, and has given to the Kingdom of Belgium a new identity of a country where the consumption of beer is a family affair, a symbol of tradition.
"Maison de l'Arbre d'Or"
Beer is honored in all parts of the country, especially in Brussels, a great capital where they are two traditional breweries: the Brasserie Cantillon (where you can find the Museum of the "Gueuze") and the "Brasserie de la Senne". The know-how of brewers is recognized through museums and exhibitions, old industrial and traditional buildings, at major events, etc. Our streets also honors the beer culture: rue de la Brasserie, rue des Brasseries, rue des Brasseurs, rue du Houblon, rue de la Levure, rue de la Cuve, etc.
In 2015 there are almost 200 breweries in Belgium with a range of some 500 different products.
In 2016: UNESCO inscribes Belgian beer to the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
Some denominations of beers:
Abbey beers: Beers brewed by commercials with an abandoned or functioning abbey name. The best known brands are Leffe (Inbev) and Grimbergen (Maes). We can also mention the "Tripel Karmeliet", the beers of "Maredsous", "Watou", "Saint-Feuillien", "Floreffe", "Val-Dieu", "Cambron".
Lambic beers: a beer with spontaneous fermentation of the wild yeasts that are present in the air in the vicinity of Brussels and in the valley of the Senne served at the pump, with various derivatives "Gueuze", "Kriek", "Raspberry" "Faro".
Trappist beers: a beer "with high fermentation" and brewed inside a Trappist abbey. Here the process of production is entirely assimilated by monks of abbeys. On several criteria these beers are entitled to the label Authentic Trappist Product. In Belgium we have: West-Vleteren, Westmalle, Achel, Rochefort, Orval and Chimay.
Among these several denominations of beers, we have several styles of beers characterized mainly by their colors:
Top Belgian beers according to the site "a little mousse"
Some good addresses to take a beer:
- La brasserie Cantillon :
Rue Gheude 56, 1070 Anderlecht, Bruxelles