Cowboys, toreadors and gondoliers are the latest weapons to be adopted by the Belgian Family Brewers as they strive to assert their heritage credentials.
The 22-strong association is seeking to raise awareness of the fact that in Belgium, brewing is a skill passed down through the generations. ‘Every country has a tradition,’ said BFB president Xavier Vanneste at the launch of the campaign at the 2015 European Beer Bloggers’ & Writers’ Conference in Brussels. ‘In Belgium it’s brewing beer.’ Vanneste himself is the sixth generation head of De Halve Maan in Brugge.
Comparing brewing with other occupations perceived as ‘traditional’ around the globe, images like the one to the right will be created for a campaign initially intended for the web. Individual breweries will also each be adopting the approach, so expect to see Duvel riding across the prairie or Palm heading to the bull ring in their visuals.
With 22 members on board, the BFB’s breweries have clocked up over 3,500 years of brewing between themselves. To be a member, not only does the beer have to be made in Belgium by a family-owned brewery rather than one with an overseas parent, the brewery has to have been in the family’s hands for at least 50 years. While the majority of BFB members hail from the 19th century, the oldest, Roman, dates back to 1545 and is currently being run by the 14th generation.
Seeing Belgium as the birthplace of ‘craft’ brewing, the BFB’s aim is to firmly fix its red, yellow and black logo in consumers’ mind as the mark of authentic Belgian beer. While the logo is making headway in the US, Vanneste told Imbibe, this has yet to happen in the UK.
‘It’s not just about history and heritage,’ said Vanneste. ‘We are very happy to talk about innovation. But the Trappists are the most well known of Belgian beers. We want [our beer] to be known as authentic as the Trappists.’
Seeing its role as acting as the gateway to further details on all things BFB, the association remains happy to field enquiries from members of the trade. The campaign is due to officially launch on 12 September, the opening day of the Ghent Fair – Flanders’ equivalent to the Ideal Home Exhibition. New website content includes a flavour wheel to determine personal preferences and channel consumers to relevant beers, with the next phase likely to include extra emphasis on beer and food matching, a theme being strongly embraced by several BFB members, particularly the Palm Craft Brewery Group and De Koninck.