You truly can find beer in every corner of Belgium – it’s ingrained into the country’s cafe culture, dining and of course the local history and heritage of almost every town. It’s unlikely you could visit Belgium without coming across at least one fantastic beer museum or attraction to reinforce this fact! But what is being done to protect this proud heritage?

I, like many, many other Belgians, have the privilege of working in the beer industry and contributing to our most famous export, so I was of course heartened to learn that Belgium’s beer culture could soon gain Unesco World Heritage status.

Next year Unesco will make a decision on whether or not Belgian beer culture will secure a place on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage – a chance to keep beer brewing history alive for future brewers to learn from. After all, Heverlee was created using descriptions from a forgotten beer’s rich past and wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t get access to that information. So imagine the possibilities for future generations, combining traditional techniques with modern technology.

I’m confident Belgium’s beer brewing culture will make the list, but while we await the outcome, let’s take a look at other Belgian traditions which have made the list:

  • Giants and dragons - Large scales giants and dragons are a typical scene at Belgian carnivals, recounting legendary tales from the country’s past and dancing in city streets to impress the crowds that follow.
  • Leuven age set ritual repertoire – in short, this rite of passage celebrates life with traditional rituals and ceremonies in the ten years leading up to a man’s 50th birthday.
  • Festivals – The fantastic end of winter festival in Krakelingen and Tonnekensbrand has gained cultural status for its bread and fire feast, a folk tradition that sees locals decorate shop fronts and bakers prepare special ring shaped breads before a parade of 1,000 people carry bread, wine and fish to a fire to celebrate the coming of spring.

Posted by Joris