The 17th annual Belgian Beer Weekend in Brussels attracted over 60,000 visitors to the Grand Place on 4-6 September. Despite the rainy weather, the crowd gathered to taste over 350 beers from more than 40 breweries on the main square of Belgium’s capital.
This year, the festival was organised under the theme “Proud of our Beers”.
“Outside Belgium, you see that people like beer and they like Belgian beer especially,” said Jean-Louis Van de Perre, president of the Belgian Brewers. “If you come to Belgium, this is sometimes too evident for the Belgians. So we want also to show to the Belgians that they should be proud of our beers,” he told EURACTIV.
Despite a programme of traditional events such as horse-drawn carts transporting barrels of beer and the induction of new members of the Knighthood of the Brewer’s mash, only one third of beer drinkers at the event were Belgian. The majority of attendees are tourists – a reminder of the importance of beer to the Belgian economy.
“With respect to the economy, last year we invested 180 million euro,” said Van de Perre. “We employ 45 thousand people and provide 2 billion euro of economic added value, so yes, this is a powerhouse in Belgium and it’s also very important for the image of Belgium outside our country”.
Van de Perre did not put a figure on the number of pints consumed over the weekend, saying only that it would be “a lot” before quickly recommending to “drink with moderation”.
The Belgian Beer Weekend is organised by the Belgian Brewers, an association of breweries in Belgium.