The Belgian City Every Beer Lover Should Visit

Beer lovers traveling to Europe should make sure to include Leuven, Belgium, on their itinerary. Not only is it home to many quaint pubs, but the city is also the location of both large and small breweries that produce the beer they sell, including Ab InBev, the city's largest brewer — and the biggest in the world.

While AB InBev, which produces more than 500 brands, including Budweiser, Corona, Hoegaarden, and Modelo, may be the dominant maker of beer in the world today, the company started as a small producer in Leuven in 1366 with the Den Hoorn brewery. Hundreds of years later, in celebration of Christmas in 1926, the Den Hoorn brewery continued to make history as it crafted a beer named Stella Artois for the city's residents that remains popular with fans around the world.

The beer culture in Leuven, a city of over 90,000 people, is unlike any other and continues to attract tourists to the area today.

What to do in Leuven, Belgium

A variety of breweries call the Leuven area home, including Braxatorium Parcensis, where beer is brewed on the grounds of an abbey, and Brewery De Kroon, where Professor Freddy Delvaux, an expert in flavor, oversees the brewing process. An in addition to being a destination for beer lovers to enjoy a glass of brew, Leuven remains at the forefront of innovation in the industry. For example, KU Leuven operates a research center and De Kroon Brewery conducts tests at a beer lab. 

Just like Belgium beer itself, the breweries in Leuven offer a variety of flavors and styles. In fact, Belgium is well-known for its diverse beers and long history of beer-making, resulting in UNESCO listing Belgium on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

With so many beer-centric places to visit and so many brews to taste, it might be a bit overwhelming to decide where to start your pilgrimage to the city of beer. But luckily, tours are conducted that educate visitors on the city's beer and offer the opportunity to sample many varieties

If you are not able to travel to Belgium to imbibe its beers, many are exported via AB InBev or other companies, and craft brewers produce Belgium-style beers for people to enjoy in their American kitchens or local bars.