Cul­ture you can drink! Bel­gian beer gets UN back­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - MARKET PLACE - By Raf Casert

BRUS­SELS >> Next time you raise a glass of Bel­gian beer, rest as­sured: It’s a cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence.

UNESCO is adding Bel­gian beer to the list of the “In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage of Hu­man­ity.”

Bel­gium is known through­out the world for its wide ar­ray of tastes, from ex­treme sour to bit­ter, pro­duced in just about ev­ery city and vil­lage across the west Euro­pean na­tion of 11 mil­lion peo­ple. The his­tory of Bel­gian suds stretches back cen­turies to me­dieval monks and has been cel­e­brated in paint­ings by Pi­eter Brueghel and in count­less songs since.

Brus­sels re­gional leader Rudi Ver­voort said Mon­day that beer “has been a part of our so­ci­ety since time im­memo­rial.”

It is not all his­tory with Bel­gian beer though. Only this year, one brewer, Brugse Zot, moved very much with the times, build­ing a beer pipe­line out of the me­dieval cen­ter of Bruges to a bot­tling plant on the out­skirts out of en­vi­ron­men­tal and ar­chi­tec­tural con­cern.

And at a time when many pubs are clos­ing or falling on hard times as over­all beer con­sump­tion de­clines, such in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion is more than wel­come.

Sven Gatz, who went from be­ing head of the Bel­gian Brew­ers Fed­er­a­tion to be­com­ing Cul­ture Min­is­ter for the north­ern re­gion of Flan­ders, com­pared the recog­ni­tion to win­ning the World Cup.

“We love our beer and ap­pre­ci­ate the end­less di­ver­sity within it, some­thing that can’t be equaled any­where else in the world,” Gatz said. “In Bel­gium, beer doesn’t have to give way to wine or other drinks in terms of qual­ity and di­ver­sity.”

In days when al­co­hol abuse be­comes an ever big­ger con­cern, UNESCO said it was about more than just drink­ing.

“Beer is also used by com­mu­ni­ties for cook­ing, pro­duc­ing prod­ucts like beer-washed cheese, and paired with food,” UNESCO said in a state­ment.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Yvan De Baerts, owner of “Brasserie de la Senne”, pours a beer at his brew­ery in Brus­sels on Wed­nes­day, Nov. 30, 2016. Bel­gium is known through­out the world for its wide ar­ray of tastes, from ex­treme sour to bit­ter, pro­duced in just about ev­ery city and vil­lage across the west Euro­pean na­tion of 11 mil­lion peo­ple. UNESCO is adding Bel­gian beer to the list of the “In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage of Hu­man­ity”.

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