Belgian beer exports way up on previous years


While Belgians are actually drinking less, beer production is way up due to exports

France biggest market

Belgian beer exports were up again last year, with 70% of production being sent out of the country. The biggest drinkers of Belgian beer are France, the United States and the Netherlands, respectively.

Belgium’s 261 brewers produced nearly 16 million hectolitres of beer last year, 8.7% more than in 2016. The increase is all thanks to exports because domestic beer sales actually fell by 1.6%.

Small brewers, however, are still focused on breaking into new markets as there is a trend in the top three export countries towards making more beer themselves. In the US, for instance, many small brewers are producing what they call ‘Belgian-style ales’.

Belgian brewers are looking in particular at China and other Asian markets, which have been more difficult to break into, but where potential sales are huge.

Photo: Lander Loeckx/Belgian Brewers

Belgian beer

Belgium has a beer-brewing tradition going back centuries and is known around the world for both its beer culture and hundreds of craft brews.
History - Beer culture has been recognised by Unesco as part of Flanders’ Intangible Cultural Heritage. The local beer culture dates to the middle ages, when farmers brewed their own beer from the rich harvests of local grain, later transferring brewing to local guilds and abbeys.
Beer styles - The main styles include lambics, white beers, fruit beers, Trappists and abbey beers. The Trappist beer Westvleteren 12, brewed by a dozen monks in a small West Flanders town, is regularly rated by various sources as the best beer in the world.
Exports - Sixty percent of the Belgian beer production is exported abroad, with France, Germany, the Netherlands and the US the largest markets.

Litres of beer annually consumed per person in Belgium


breweries in Flanders


million hectolitres of beer produced in Belgium in 2012