Postcard from... Brussels


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The Independent Online


Given how much money Belgium rakes in from exporting its famous brews, the setting for the new “Beer Temple” inside the old stock exchange seems wholly appropriate.

Every year millions of tourists flock to Brussels, and many of those strolling the streets around the medieval Grand Place are not there for the history, but to down glasses of strong ale in the various beer shops and bars offering up some of the 450 varieties brewed in Belgium.

From 2018, they will be able to add the Beer Temple to their list after it was given the green light last week. City officials hope it will attract 400,000 visitors a year, rivalling Amsterdam’s Heineken factory as a must-see for beer aficionados.

Housed in the 19th century Bourse, which was used by traders until the late 1990s, the Beer Temple will educate visitors on the brewing process and introduce them to some of the unique beers brewed in Belgium, such as the cherry kriek beer and the sour lambic “spontaneously yeasting” beer.

As well as helping tourists get tiddly, it will also be used by the Belgian Brewers Federation to host industry events.

“Beer is to Belgium what wine is to France: it gives our small country a real identity,” Sven Gatz, head of the Federation of Belgian Brewers, told local media. “We not only have an international reputation as a beer nation to maintain, but we also want to strengthen the image we have of having a lot of know-how when it comes to brewing beer.”

Exports have soared by 70 per cent over the past decade, with 62 per cent of production exported last year.