Belgium is famous around the world for its beers and the centuries old tradition of brewing and the Flemish minister of tourism, Zuhal Demir, believes there are still numerous unexplored opportunities in this field. She considers there are more ways for tourists to discover the products, the different types of beer, the traditions and history of the Belgian beer culture, which is recognised by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage.
For this reason, through the Flemish Tourism Ministry, she has allocated 3 million euros to help breweries attract more visitors. The funds are available for construction and renovation projects, but also digital and virtual reality projects that showcase beer brewing craft. The money is supposed to help breweries enhance visitors’ experience and thus encourage more tourists to make a stop on their journey through Belgium at these locations.
The investment was initially supposed to be a relief fund, to help the breweries recover after the long Covid-19 pandemic, but Demir saw an opportunity to help the entire industry, especially now, since the on-going war between Russia and Ukraine means part of their export market is no longer accessible.
Beer culture in Belgium
Inscribed in 2016 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, making and appreciating beer is part of the living heritage of a range of communities throughout Belgium. It plays a role in daily life, as well as festive occasions.
Almost 1,500 types of beer are produced in the country using different fermentation methods. Since the 80s, craft beer has become especially popular, certain regions, such as Leuven, becoming known for their particular varieties.
As an homage to their beer, a space dedicated to the Belgian brewing culture will soon open in the centre of Brussels. The future Belgian Beer World, where about 100 breweries will exhibit their products, will occupy the two upper floors of the old stock market’s building.