It is no secret that Belgians love a good pint of beer. How did this passion for hops come to life, what is Belgium beer culture, and how can you get your hands on a refreshing Belgian ale in Singapore?

In Singapore, people consume on average 21 liters of beer every year, only ranking the country 49th on this very prestigious ranking. One might think that Belgium tops the charts, but against all odds, Belgians are only ranked 26th on the list, with 66 liters of beer per person in 2019. Far behind the leader, Czech Republic, with 140 liters per person.

In the year 1900 however, around 200 liters of beer on average was consumed in Belgium, per person.

Yes, beer is part of Belgian history, and is today an important part of the Kingdom’s identity. Today, 304 active breweries are found throughout the country, ranging from international groups to microbreweries. Traces from brewing during Roman times were found by excavating breweries from the 4th and 5th Century in today’s Wallonia. During the middle ages, Belgium received heavy influence from German and Dutch brewing styles, before developing a variety of local styles. Thanks to flexible regulations in the 19th century, Belgian brewing bloomed until reaching a peak of 3223 breweries in the year 1900. After that, this number decreased as a result of brewing industrialisation and brewery mergers and acquisitions. Today, Belgium exports 80% of its beer production globally, with international brands such as Leffe, Stella Artois, and Hoegaarden.

So, what makes this culture so special ? Belgium is a country with an incredibly diverse beer scene. As a result, Belgium holds the record for the largest amount of beer varieties in a bar. No less than 2004 beers are available for tasting at the infamous Delirium bar in Brussels. More importantly, Belgian passion for beer is kept alive through dozens of beer festivals every year, along with several beer magazines, associations, and even brewer knighthoods throughout the country. Beer is also an integral part of Belgian cuisine, the most famous dish being the Carbonnade (French) or Stoofvlees (Dutch), an equivalent to the french beef bourguignon. Belgian beer culture also translates into glassware. Each beer brand has its own glass shape, and cafe servers will often apologize if the right glass is unavailable. This vibrant culture was recognized by UNESCO in 2016, electing this culture as intangible cultural heritage of humanity.