A museum about beer, a Belgian national pride, opens in Brussels

The “Beer World of Belgium” opens its doors next Saturday in the old and majestic headquarters of the stock exchange, in a project aimed at turning the place into a tourist attraction in the Belgian capital.

Introducing the museum to the press, Brussels Mayor Philippe Clos noted that another aim was to “support a large economic sector”.

Belgium, a country of 11.5 million people, is home to around 430 breweries, which generate about 6,900 direct jobs and another 50,000 indirect jobs, according to the latest official data.

Moreover, the Federation of Belgian Breweries confirms that 70% of the total production is destined for export.

The entrance ticket to the museum allows, in addition to getting acquainted with the details of Belgian beer production, tasting the drink on a specially designed terrace on the roof of the building.

The “Sky Bar” offers various organic white, dark and amber beers, not to mention light, triple-fermented pilsners, just some of the 1,600 beers on tap in Belgium.

Before reaching the tasting terrace, the museum reviews the history of the drink, which was born in the European Middle Ages, remembering the basic ingredients and the multiple production techniques.

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The ride is supported by multiple touch screens and even a “sensory experience”.

A special chamber proposes complete immersion in a replica of the fermentation tank, so that bubbles emerge from the walls like those produced by the carbonation of a beverage.

“We have developed an entertaining museum,” Charles Lecliffe, who heads the independent municipal council responsible for managing the building, told AFP.

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According to Leclef, “It’s not about encouraging beer consumption, it’s about showing that it’s part of our daily life in Belgium, and finding a way to tell people about it.”

“We’re not the largest producer in the world, far from it, but we are the most innovative, given its enormous variety, its different flavors, its complexity,” Cliff noted.

However, the museum has already received criticism from smaller brewers, who see the initiative as a promotional platform for major brands and groups.

Belgium is the headquarters of the world leader AB Inbev, whose emblematic brands are on display at the fair.

“Obviously there have been larger financial contributions from the largest companies [del sector] “But no brewery has a prime location here,” Leclef said.

The Al-Bireh Museum is part of the complex renovation of the historic and stunning stock exchange building, which was emptied in 2014.

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