Belgian Bars Make Punters Give Their Shoes As A Deposit For Glasses

Belgium is famous for the quality of its beer, famous too for the fancy glasses that fine, fine beer is served in.

As such, it's perhaps no surprise that some tourists decide to take their glasses with them as a souvenir when they visit Belgian bars.

However, landlords at bars throughout the city are using novel methods to try and dissuade customers from stealing their glasses, which are particularly expensive.

Bruges landlord Philip Maes, who runs the Bruges Beerwall cafe, has had to invest in a security alarm in the stem of each glass.

Maes told The Guardian: "Especially the tourists liked to walk with them. For some reason, some customers think that when they pay for something to drink, they get the glass as a present."

The paper also reports another bar in Ghent, further east, which is making customers hand over their shoes in exchange for a lovely glass of something wonderful.

"Anyone who drinks our house beer must hand over his shoes," Alex Devriendt of bar Dulle Griet (which offers 500 types of beer) told Nieuwsblad, a Belgian daily.

"We then put them in a basket that we pull up against the ceiling. The basket has now become an attraction, but for us it remains a guarantee. [The glasses] are quite expensive because we have them made especially."

It's a nice glass, don't steal it (Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons)
It's a nice glass, don't steal it (Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

"We have to supplement our inventory every day," he added. "Tourists simply want a souvenir. Some even try to throw those old-fashioned billboards off my wall. Certainly in the winter a lot disappears, they have thick coats on. In the summer they can hide the loot less well."

Belgium's huge variety of beers and beer glasses make them attractive to bar thieves perhaps unaware of the costs they help incur to proprietors, many of whom run on thin margins.

Despite its reputation, until recent times there were only a handful of breweries in Belgium, with most beer production conducted by large brewers such as Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Most breweries lost the copper for their brewing process during the first and second world wars, and it's only in recent years that a number of small, craft breweries have popped up around the country.

So don't steal their glasses.

Featured Image Credit: PROSmabs Sputzer/Flickr

Ronan O'Shea

Ronan J O'Shea is a freelance journalist from London who has written for titles including LADbible, Headspace, The Independent, National Geographic Traveller and New York Post. Contact him at [email protected]

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