Lambic brewers call for action against beer resale market

Summary

Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen have called on local authorities to clamp down on those who buy up their limited-edition beers at normal prices only to resell them online for much more

Up to €1,000 a bottle

Brewers Cantillon in Brussels and Drie Fonteinen in Beersel, just outside the capital, have called on the authorities to address online reselling of speciality beers. According to Jean Van Roy, head brewer at Cantillon, some foreign websites are selling the breweries’ premium beers at up to 10 times the retail price.

Both breweries produce lambic beers, which can only be produced in Brussels and part of Flemish Brabant because of the natural fermentation process that requires specific airborne bacteria.

Some people buy large numbers of the beer and then sell them online. “These are people who couldn’t care less about our beer and are only interested in selling them on,” said Van Roy.

Some of the brewers’ special edition beers can even fetch up to €1,000 a bottle in markets like Japan and North America, Van Roy said. “Our product was sold, that’s not the problem. The problem is that our loyal customers, who know our products and have been buying them for years, think we are passing them up. I’m tired of having to tell faithful customers that we’ve run out of certain stocks that they’ve seen online.”

The breweries have called on authorities to clamp down on the sellers, who pay no tax or excise duty on their profits. They also plan to offer their own online sales in an attempt to undercut the sellers.

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.
74

Litres of beer annually consumed per person in Belgium

100

breweries in Flanders

19

million hectolitres of beer produced in Belgium in 2012