Unesco decided at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that the beer culture in Belgium deserved to be on the Representative List of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The United Nations’ heritage body UNESCO accepted Belgium’s application, recognising that brewing fosters a unified identity in a country sometimes divided on linguistic lines.
Making and appreciating beer is part of the living heritage of a range of communities throughout Belgium. It plays a role in daily life, as well as festive occasions. Almost 1,500 types of beer are produced in the country including by some Trappist communities. Craft beer has become particularly popular. Beer is also used by communities for cooking, producing products like beer-washed cheese, and paired with food. Knowledge of the element is shared in the home, social circles, breweries, universities and public training centres.
The UN created its list of intangible cultural heritage in 2008 for traditional events, rituals and social practices. To be considered, the tradition should be passed down through generations and give those involved a sense of identity.