International Beer Day
08 / 2016
This summer the team of Sofie’s World took a closer look at the beer consumption in both The Netherlands and Belgium, a survey conducted together with Mercure Hotels. One thousand Belgians and as many Dutch people were interviewed on the way they experience beer. The results are announced on August 5th, also known as International Beer Day. The perfect moment to break down some beer related stereotypes.
Stereotype 1: Belgians are not proud of their beers
You should know that Belgians are not know to be the most chauvinistic people in the world. But when it comes to their beers, Belgians are a lot prouder than they will tell you. Yet, one of the missions of Sofie’s World is to persuade Belgians to be more boastful about their rich beer culture for instance by convincing them to order beer instead of wine when dining out. Should we conclude that we have been wrong this entire time?
The survey shows that 90% of the Belgian beer consumers believe domestic beer is better than beer from abroad. Just to compare: in the Netherlands only one in five feels the same way. So even though Belgian’s might not be very chauvinistic, they still consider their own beer to be the best in the world. It is safe to say that this is not very surprising. Belgium has a rich brewing history with many different flavors and beer styles. The roots of many ‘forgotten’ beer styles are in Belgium. For instance, the typical saison beers.
Yet Belgians will be reluctant, or maybe even afraid, to order beer when they are in a restaurant. Many Belgian beer associations are working hard to change this. The ‘Fier op ons Bier’ (proud of our beers)-campaign of the Belgians Brewers Federation is a good example. Belgian Family Brewers are also doing a lot to put the Belgian brewing tradition in the spotlight. Their label of authenticity ensures people all over the world of the origin and good quality of their beers.
Stereotype 2: All beers from the Netherlands are rubbish
In a big part of the international beer scene Belgian beers are still the most important touchstone when creating new brews. Many brewers travel to Belgium in search of new beers and ideas. People from The Netherlands will also easily cross the border in their search for inspiration. Almost half of the Dutch beer consumers prefer Belgian beers above their own brews. Yet, a lot of innovation is going on in the Netherlands with lots of wonderful beers as a result. The survey shows that one in four Dutch people will put their beers on the same level as Belgian beers. They firmly believe in the future of the Dutch beer scene. And they should!
Both in Belgium and The Netherlands, specialty beer is becoming more popular than pilsner. This evolution has been going on in Belgium for quite some time, but The Netherlands are definitely catching up. In both countries young people are really discovering specialty beers, taking their time to savor the beers instead of binge drinking.
Stereotype 3: Beers are not refined
The survey shows that the level of education has no influence on beer consumption in both countries. This is an important stereotype being overruled. Beer has been struggling with a negatieve image for years in Belgium and The Netherlands. For centuries it was the drink of the lower classes, only consumed by those who could not afford anything else. Yet good beer is a very refined product, the result of true craftsmanship and it deserves to be treated with respect.
Too often food pairing is also limited to a can of pilsner next to the barbecue. Yet the possibility are endless. Sofie’s World has been striving for years to give beer the recognition it deserves in Belgian cuisine. The research shows a positive evolution, but you should not be mistaken. Choices are still limited and most people working in restaurants have little to no knowledge of the Belgian beer culture.
Stereotype 4: Only men like beer and women only drink sweet beers
The survey shows that three out of four Belgian and Dutch women have a beer at least once a month. And only 20% of them prefer a sweet or fruity beer. These are two major stereotypes proven wrong! Beer is not just for men, so gender based marketing does not work in beer advertising. Women like different beer styles, just like men do and it is time the industry starts acting like it.
The research of Mercure Hotels proves that some important stereotypes are outdated. Belgians take a lot more pride in their beers than they will tell you. The Netherlands are really catching up when it comes to the quality of their beers and, more importantly, they are aware of this. All though we still have a lot of work ahead, beer is no longer treated as an inferior product. More and more people are convinced about the possibilities of excellent food pairing. Both men and women, older and younger people have discovered their love for beer and take their time to enjoy it. Beer is no longer just for binge drinking.
So, the team of Sofie’s World is very proud to raise the glass on this International Beer Day. We would like to propose a toast not only to our rich beer culture, but especially to you! We say cheers to all beer lovers around the world who believe in the numerous possibilities beer has to offer. Today, we raise our glass to the universal love for beer!