There isn't a beer aficionado that doesn't have Belgium on his/her bucket list. Yet, there is so much to Belgium besides its incredibly diverse beer culture (which, in and of itself, has been granted UNESCO world heritage status!), I find that the more I read about Belgium, the more fascinated I am by it.
This is a country the size of Maryland and Delaware combined (just under 11,000 square miles), home to over 11,250,000 people, that has two distinct geopolitical territories (Flanders and Wallonia), each with its own culture and language, with a bustling capital city of Brussels that almost straddles the border between the two, making it a truly cosmopolitan city of great charm, history and diversity.
The benefit for English-speaking tourists visiting Belgium, is that even though the Dutch-speaking Flemish and French-speaking Walloons go to great lengths to avoid speaking each other's language, they all speak excellent English. As a result, visiting Belgium is a pleasant and enjoyable experience for both first-time overseas visitors, as well as seasoned veterans of trans-Atlantic travel.
This all makes beer-themed trips to Belgium an absolute must for any self-respecting lover of beer. With nearly 180 breweries and over 1500 different beers available, every trip to Belgium can be a whole new journey of discovery.
As mentioned above, Belgian beer culture has received special commendation from UNESCO. Specifically, it has been labelled an "Intangible cultural heritage of humanity." The official recognition notes that: "beer culture in Belgium combines know-how concerning nature, social practices and craft skills that constitute an integral part of daily and festive life. Regularly shared between practitioners, knowledge and skills are transmitted from masters to apprentices in breweries but also within families, in public spaces and through formal education. Beer culture in Belgium contributes to the economic and social viability at local level and the constitution of the social identity and continuity of its bearers and practitioners, who promote responsible production and consumption." That pretty much says it all!