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Critics accuse EU-funded Belgian Beer World of colluding with largest brewers

Beer is poured from the tap at Belgian Beer World.
Beer is poured from the tap at Belgian Beer World. Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Méabh Mc Mahon
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Despite having as many as 98 bottled beers and 49 draught ones, most come only from the country's biggest producers.

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Just a few weeks ago now, the freshly minted Belgian Stock Exchange building reopened its 19th-century doors after years of renovations to much fanfare. And with it an interactive museum called Belgian Beer World.

As one of Brussels' most central and iconic buildings, the site is supposed to serve as a passageway and meeting point for all people, but with the added attraction of giving visitors an insight into the culture and history of Belgian beer.

But to the disappointment of many independent beer makers, they were priced out of having their own products on offer at the new museum.

In an interview with Euronews, Jean-Pierre Van Roy, the owner of a family-run beer museum called Cantillon, criticised the new EU-funded Belgian Beer World and the Stock Exchange for essentially colluding with the country's biggest brewers to promote their own products in order to draw in more money.

"It's not a museum. I consider that the stock market operation by the large breweries is above all a commercial operation, undoubtedly with the idea of highlighting big brands," Van Roy said.

"There is absolutely no cultural goal pursued in the presentation of this so-called heritage."

"I was told that it costs €1,500 per year to present a bottle in a window. It's still quite well paid, I think, which proves the intention, the commercial intention to carry out a financial transaction."

Nel Vandevannet from Belgian Beer World disputes this accusation though, telling Euronews that all brewers are welcome.

"Of course, we have very big breweries in the project, but we also have very small breweries from the northern part of the country to the southern part of the country. It's really about Belgian beer," Vandevannet said.

"So, I can imagine that small or local breweries, they want it to have more specific attention on their own brand. But this is not the purpose. 

"We're really talking about history, about fermentation, about diversity, but not specifically an attention to one or other brands. Everybody can join the project if they want."

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