No.1 travel guide for Belgium; dedicated to Belgian beer and food culture.

Treasure hunting in beer country


Email  •  Print

Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2016-01-18 09:43:52 +0100 / Last Updated: 11 months ago

belgian beer mats Beer mat anyone?
© BeerTourism.com


HOEGAARDEN - Saturday morning. I am entering the car park of sports hall De Struysvogel in Hoegaarden. There are plenty of cars already and between them, blankets are spread out, Belgian beer advertising Vintage advertising
© BeerTourism.com
covered in a wide array of beer glasses, a rusty enamel sign, a handful of bottle caps and a display of beer mugs.

Taking a glimpse through an open car door, I spot a collection of vintage enamel signs on the back seat.

Collectors are busy negotiating a swap but the real work here is done inside the sports hall.

I am wading into a sea of beer mats, bottles, posters, bottle caps and promotional materials from times gone by.

Collectors are browsing stationery from breweries that have long since disappeared.

Some collectors cast their net far and wide whereas others are on the hunt for specific items: beer glasses, beer mats, labels or bottle caps, often narrowed down by region or brewery.

The breweries themselves are not involved in any of the ‘trading’ that is going on. On the contrary, the brewers used to dump all of their ‘old rubbish’ whereas nowadays, these vintage brewery items are often hard to track down and can be worth quite a bit.

Just look up some items on eBay or Catawiki.


Vintage belgian beer glasses Glasses galore...
© BeerTourism.com


Vintage Glasses

For over 20 years, Patrick Kempeneers has been collecting vintage beer glasses. He specialises in pre-war, acid-treated glasses. vintage moortgat glass 250 € Moortgat glass anyone?
© BeerTourism.com

“The oldest glasses in my collection are from the defunct breweries of De Ridder from Deurne near Antwerp and Chevalier Marin in Mechelen."

"They go back all the way to the end of the 19th century,” Patrick tells us.

“In those days, beer glasses were just like wine glasses.” For him, the collection bug started with Brouwerij Hoegaarden.

Just like most genuine collectors, Patrick will swap items from his collection if he has more than one, so he can add to his collection on a regular basis.

Nevertheless, plenty of money is changing hands in the beer collectors’ universe. A pre-war Moortgat beer glass turns out to be worth 250 euros.

The prized pieces in Patrick’s glass collection are displayed at home in a secure, glass-fronted cabinet. The remaining drinking vessels are safely stored in boxes.


Vintage beer advertising Westmalle © BeerTourism.com


Worth their Weight in Gold

The world of collecting is a small one. Belgian collectors are on first-name terms with those from abroad and they know exactly who is looking for what. Ludwig Decaluwé has been part Chimay memorabilia "Holy" collector's items
© BeerTourism.com
of this world for a quarter of a century.

“My daughter started collecting beer mats,” he says with a smile. “The collecting bug took hold of me soon after. Ever since, my aim has been to collect at least one single item from every Belgian brewery; from paperwork, to a beer mat or a glass...

The entire collection is properly filed by brewery name and by the name of the town or community. Place of origin is important too, quite often you come across a brewery with the same name but originating from a different area.”

So, what spurs on the collector? “I am not doing it for the money,” is Ludwig’s response. “I have quite a few labels that don’t have any value. My primary interest is the history of the breweries. And I like to meet other collectors and swap items.”

An authentic, vintage enamel advertising sign could fetch anything from a few hundred to up to a few thousand euros. Prices for vintage enamel advertising signs are going through the roof as they are coveted by café and restaurant owners as well as private collectors.

The sky is the limit... a brewer recently told me that the original leaded windows from his brewery were offered for sale for no less than … €30,000 euros.


Ludwig Decaluwé Ludwig Decaluwé
© BeerTourism.com


The Collecting Bug

The Hoegaarden collectors’ and exchange fair is one of the largest in Belgium and is held every year during the first weekend in November. It was set up by the Gambrinus collectors’ society. vintage beer mats Vintage beer mats
© BeerTourism.com

Gambrinus was founded in 1978 and held its first fair in the city of Leuven.

The organisation acquired official status in 1986. Gambrinus is now organising four fairs a year with the emphasis on swapping collectable items.

The club magazine features the latest news on labels, bottle caps, beer glasses and beer mats and provides the reader with information about new breweries.

The Gambrinus association numbers some 600, including some from abroad. The association is in regular contact with similar clubs outside Belgium. The collecting bug knows no borders.


Recent Blog Posts

Val-Dieu, celebrating 800 years of Belgian beer culture
VAL-DIEU - Those monks certainly picked some beautiful spots for their abbeys. The rumble of the busy motorway lies far behind me as I swap the flat northern Belgian landscape for the gently rolling ... [ read more ]
Belgian beer culture recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage
BRUSSELS - “We have won the World Cup!” exclaims Sven Gatz, Minister of Culture for Flanders. In his former role as Managing Director of the Federation of Belgian Brewers he immediately lent his ... [ read more ]
Chimay Grande Réserve Vieillie en Barriques 2016, a touch of wood
CHIMAY/COGNAC - Chimay Bleue stands out as a classic amongst Trappist beers. Nevertheless, its brewer continues to break new ground. The first ‘limited edition’ Chimay Grande Réserve Vieillie en Barri ... [ read more ]
Brussels Beer Challenge 2016: Belgium holds its own in the beer world
BRUSSELS - For the fifth running of the Brussels Beer Challenge the organisers selected a location steeped in history and prestige. After touring from Brussels to Liège, Leuven and Antwerp, ... [ read more ]
The Belgian Beer Book: Tapping into Belgian beer culture
BELGIUM - How do you write an unbiased review of a book that you yourself have written, pouring your entire soul into it? I’ll immediately give up on that impossible task and instead I’ll offer you a ... [ read more ]

Comments



SHARE:
 



BLOG

POSTS
Withstanding the test of time: Enamel beer signs

ANTWERP/BREDA - With a little bit of luck you may come across them at a collectors’ fair, in an antiques shop or at a brocante, as Belgians call their flea ... [ more ]

Why breweries have taken a shine to Decoprint - and we have too!

HOOGSTRATEN - Belgian beers are known as much for their astonishing variety of glasses and bottles as they are for their diversity of types and flavours. After all, each beer supped is sensory... [ more ]

An expert view: Chris Vandewalle, beer historian

LO-RENINGE - “Look at this!” Chris digs out an old, small leather suitcase that contains an original, hand-written brewer’s handbook dating back to 1856. “I can read it perfectly well and I know exacly what the brewer ... [ more ]

St_louis_premium_gueuze225

More Beer

Premium Gueuze is the flagship brew of the St. Louis range and one of the jewels in the crown of Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck. This was by no means certain when Luc Van Honsebrou... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.

Name:
Email:
TWITTER
    FACEBOOK