Beer museums have been on the rise recently. A little more than a month ago we covered Chicago’s soon-to-be-built beer museum and now we traverse the Atlantic Ocean to shift our focus onto the country of Belgium and its soon-to-be-built temple of malty, hoppy, and yeasty suds.
After over a year of deliberations Belgian authorities have enacted plans to build a beer museum dedicated solely, of course, to Belgian products. Belgium has the greatest diversity of beer in the world, which makes beer a central part of the culture and economy in the country, so it only seems natural that they’d build a temple to celebrate it.
Although beer is a crucial component of Belgium’s economy, there are far less breweries in Belgium than there used to be. The story behind the decline is all too familiar: increased industrialization leads to small businesses being taken over by huge conglomerates. Thus, in 1900 Belgium housed 3,223 breweries and now, 116 years later, there are only 168. That is a decrease of 3,055 breweries and roughly an average loss of 26 breweries a year.
But, in the past couple of years this downward trend has made a U-turn, with beer making an increasing contribution to the EU economy. With just 168 breweries Belgium’s beer sector supports almost 50,000 jobs, generates €1.769bn for the country’s economy and raises €1.46bn in tax revenues.
With this turnaround it seems like the perfect time to dedicate a museum to Belgian beer and its diversity. The museum will serve to applaud both large and small beer companies alike, attempting to move away from the aforementioned negative history.
The museum will be located in one of Brussels’ largest and most lavish buildings, the Bourse, Belgium’s former stock exchange. Currently the building is rundown, but it’s this decay that is allowing Belgian authorities to reimagine it for a new purpose.
Six architects from a field of over 30 applicants were chosen to design the beer museum, which is planned to open by 2019. According to Belgium authorities, the museum will boost tourism in the country, which will further help its economy flourish. Ideally, they say, it will attract over 400,000 visitors a year, which would be quite a feat.
The beer museum will be an interactive space, which seems to be a growing trend these days, including a roof terrace, bar and restaurant. Also, there will be opportunities for visitors to do beer tastings. If the concept is pulled off flawlessly, it should naturally become the first spot for tourists to check out upon landing in Belgium. We at least know that would be the case for us.