I am the last person on Planet Earth to deny Belgian brewers rank amongst the best in the world and they brew some damn good beer, but I was amazed about the way many Belgians twisted and turned the recent placement of their beer culture on Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity into a cheap advertisement for their beers themselves. Can someone please calm them down, and explain again just exactly what happened?
Unesco inscribed the Belgian beer culture on their Cultural Heritage list because “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.” Besides the apparent overestimation of the amount of beer types currently being produced – could it be they meant ‘brands’ instead of ‘types’? – I can think of about a hundred other countries where the making and appreciating of beer is part of the living heritage of a range of communities, and where imbibing plays a role in daily life, not to mention festive occasions. Most of those countries produce an even larger amount of ‘types’ (read: brands), using different fermentation methods.
The remainder of Unesco’s motivation can be directly applied to these countries too, so perhaps we can get the good people of Unesco to put the world’s beer culture on the Heritage List. If not, the beer cultures of Germany, England, United States of America, Czech Republic, Iceland, Brazil and Lithuania should be added at the very least.
And while this placement merely means Unesco will do its best to have the world acknowledge the Belgian beer culture exists, if even only in memory should no-one drink Belgian beer again, virtually every Belgian citizen has taken it as a gold medal for best beer in the world. One Belgian has maintained his senses, as he often does, and for those who can’t read Dutch three cheers for Google Translate: read Herman Brusselmans’ take on the matter.
Meanwhile, can someone bring the feasting and cheering Belgians back to their senses? Yes, their beers are great, but not necessarily the best in the world and this new listing means nothing less (and nothing more) their beer culture is as important and memorable as the South Korean Cheoyongmu, the Vietnamese Quan Họ Bắc Ninh and the Vanuatuvian Ritual Sand Drawings. I hate to spoil a party, particularly in a country where good news is as scarce as a white crow and where four governments spend most of their time making each other’s life miserable – in four different languages, have to hand that to them – rather than governing, whilst even their King seems to have no clue whatsoever on how to move the whole bloody thing forward anymore.
Wait a minute – how about having Unesco list THAT on their 2017 list extension?