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Belgian Beer
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Beer in Belgium varies from the popular pale lager to lambic beer as well as Flemish red. Belgian beer-brewing's origins go back to the Middle Ages. There are approximately 125 breweries in the country, ranging from international giants to microbreweries. In Europe, only Germany, France and the United Kingdom are home to more breweries, but the beer in Belgium is bar-none the best beer in the world. Belgian breweries produce about 800 standard beers. When special one-off beers are included, the total number of Belgian beer brands is approximately 8,700.The Belgians drink about 93 litres of beer a year on average.

Beer has been made in Belgium since at least the Middle Ages. It is believed today that beer was brewed at some monasteries during this period; however, no written proof exists. The Trappist monasteries that now brew beer in Belgium were occupied in the late 18th century primarily by monks fleeing the French Revolution. However, the first Trappist brewery in Belgium in Westmalle did not start operation until 10 December 1836, almost 50 years after the Revolution. That beer was exclusively for the monks and is described as "dark and sweet." The first recorded sale of beer (a brown beer) was on 1 June 1861.

There are only 7 Trappist Breweries in the world and only beer brewed at an Abbey, under the watchful eye of the Cistercian monastic community living there, can rightfully use the strictly controlled name of "Trappiste". Of the numerous Belgian beers, only Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Westmalle and Achel are entitled to use the "Trappiste" name and one in The Netherlands : Koningshoeven. The denomination “Trappist” is also used for other products manufactured in the Cistercian monasteries and under the supervision of the monks and nuns. It indicates that they are the manufacturers. For a beer to qualify for Trappist certification, the brewery must be in a monastery, the monks must play a role in its production and policies and the profits from the sale must be used to support the monastery and/or social programs outside.

The Brassigaume Festival was launched in 2001 by a handful of enthusiasts with the help of the Association of Shopkeepers, Craftsmen and Industrialists of Marbehan, Belgium. This non-profit association is geared to making the general public aware of the wide diversity of beers produced by small breweries in Belgium and abroad. Master brewers for two days running set up shop in a large heated big-top to serve visitors a taste of their brews in a very friendly atmosphere. Having emerged as an international reference, Brassigaume selects only genuine brasseries and spares no effort to make sure that lovers of fine beer can discover the richness of the Belgian and international brewing heritage. Situated in the heart of the Gaume, the Brassigaume Festival is held under heated big-top tents in Marbehan which is 20 kilometers from Arlon and easily accessible by train from the Marbehan Station, then a 5 minute signposted walk on foot. By car it is accessible with sign-posting from the main arteries of the Motorway E411 from the Rulles Exit.

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