Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.b.5

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Belgium has nominated Beer culture in Belgium (No. 01062) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

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 using different fermentation methods. Since the 1980s, craft beer has become especially popular. There are certain regions, which are known for their particular varieties while some Trappist communities have also been involved in beer production giving profits to charity. In addition, beer is used for cooking including in the creation of products like beer-washed cheese and, as in the case of wine, can be paired with foods to complement flavours. Several organizations of brewers work with communities on a broad level to advocate responsible beer consumption. Sustainable practice has also become part of the culture with recyclable packaging encouraged and new technologies to reduce water usage in production processes. Besides being transmitted in the home and social circles, knowledge and skills are also passed down by master brewers who run classes in breweries, specialized university courses that target those involved in the field and hospitality in general, public training programmes for entrepreneurs and small test breweries for amateur brewers.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   Serving as an identity marker for its communities of brewers, tasters, mediators and zythologists, beer culture in Belgium combines know-how concerning nature, social practices and craft skills that constitute an integral part of daily and festive life. Regularly shared between practitioners, knowledge and skills are transmitted from masters to apprentices in breweries but also within families, in public spaces and through formal education. Beer culture in Belgium contributes to the economic and social viability at local level and the constitution of the social identity and continuity of its bearers and practitioners, who promote responsible production and consumption;

R.2:   Inscription of the element would contribute to the visibility and diversity of intangible cultural heritage by highlighting the specific nature of an element combining craftsmanship and foodways, which has continuously evolved to meet the requirements of sustainable development. It would also serve as an inspiring example of a practice that was revived and whose values were rediscovered and developed after having been marginalized;

R.3:   Past and current efforts by the submitting State and communities of bearers and practitioners to revive and safeguard the element since the 1970s are well described. Future safeguarding measures pertaining mainly to the development of professional qualifications, the promotion of the element and the establishment of an observatory of the diversity of brewing arts and their appreciation in Belgium take into consideration the risks of increasing alcohol consumption and are adapted to the current and foreseen viability of the element;

R.4:   The Belgian Brewers Federation initiated the nomination process involving brewers, mediators, teachers and the general public, who participated actively through a range of preparatory and consultative meetings and provided their free, prior and informed consent for the inscription;

R.5:   Beer culture in Belgium was included in the inventories of the three communities of Belgium, respectively in 2011 in the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Flanders, Belgium, maintained and regularly updated by the Arts and Heritage Agency of the Flemish Ministry for Culture, in 2012 in the inventory of intangible cultural heritage maintained and regularly updated by the Cultural Heritage Directorate of the Ministry of the French Community and in 2013 in a registry of intangible cultural heritage maintained and regularly updated by the government of the German-speaking community.

  1. Inscribes Beer culture in Belgium on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.