The question “Does Belgium have beer for kids?” has likely crossed the minds of those who live in the country or are planning to travel to Belgium.
The official age for consuming alcohol in many countries is 21, but there are many countries like Belgium and Germany where the legal drinking age is as low as 16. So, is it legal for kids and children to drink beer in Belgium?
Continue reading this informative article on Belgian alcohol practices to find out!
Does Belgium Have Beer for Children?
No, Belgium does not have beer for children. Belgium has a legal drinking age of 16 when it comes to beer or wine, but they can only buy and consume stronger spirits like vodka, whiskey, rum, and others after they are 18.
Belgian beer is one of the most famous and oldest traditional beers in the world. The whole of Europe loves Belgian beers, and so do the Western countries. But there is a rumor in the West that the Belgian people allow their kids to drink beer. Is this true, or is it just a baseless rumor? Well, this is not a complete rumor, but it is more like a fact that has been misconstrued and misinterpreted by many in the Western world.
In America, the nation’s legal drinking age is 21 years, whereas in Canada and other countries, the legal age for drinking is either 18 or 19. But Belgium and other European countries like Germany have a lower age limit for drinking.
The fact that people 16 years of age are allowed to drink beer in Belgium has been misinterpreted. That is what led to the rumor that kids in Belgium are allowed to drink beer. Belgium considers people at the age of 16 to be old enough to make judgments about their light spirit consumption.
Hence, they have officially declared that people at the age of 16 can officially buy and consume light spirits without any legal issues. However, this might still be an offense in many Western countries.
Why Children Consumed Beer in Belgium and Europe?
One of the main reasons why schoolchildren were served beer during the older times in history is sanitation and hygiene. All across Europe and Belgium, multiple diseases and the Plague led to many sanitization issues. There was an acute fear that regular water may be contaminated with disease-causing viruses.
That is where beer consumption by kids became acceptable. Beer was filtered and processed multiple times. Hence, people started to believe that drinking beer was safer than consuming water.
– Beer in Belgian Kids’ School Lunches
Years ago, Belgium did offer low-alcohol content beers during school lunch. There are more than a thousand different kinds of Belgian beers in the country. There was a point in Belgian history when kids were offered beer for lunch during school hours.
This might be a shock to the present generation, but it was not uncommon for kids to drink low-alcohol drinks instead of water. Until 2013, Russia did not consider beer or alcohol below 10 percent ABV to be a spirit. That is why many European countries had a historical tradition where kids in school were offered small amounts of low-alcohol beer during lunch breaks.
The same can be said for Belgium, which is famous for its beers and exclusive brews like the Trappist beers, Belgian Pilsners, Wheat beers, and much more. Belgians are famous for their unique brews and traditional brewing methods, inspiring the world for centuries.
– Belgian Plan For Serving Beer to School Kids
Belgium wanted to serve beer to kids to fight increasing obesity among teenagers. The battle against obesity and overweight kids gained a new battleground in Belgian institutions in 2001. A strategy to replace soft drinks and juice with beer, a healthier substitute, was developed to make kids stay away from harmful, sugar-infused beverages.
The idea was that the schools would provide tafelbier, a comparatively light beer with 1.5 to 2.5 percent alcohol by volume (a standard Bud beer Carlsberg has 5.5 percent alcohol by volume), as part of this innovative plan. The options for children were lager or bitter.
They were to be offered small 12-ounce cans during lunch breaks as a form of refreshment. The Limburg Beer Friends, a Belgian beer club, were the first ones who came up with the scheme. Rony Langenaeken, the club’s chairman, had this idea after learning about national Belgian research that connected children’s use of sugary beverages and the harmful effects it had on their bodies.
Kids of age 3 to 15 were the target audience for the unique scheme. Langenaeken attempted to reassure doubters that children would not really get intoxicated because of the small serving amount. But the parents of the kids expressed alarm at the prospect of 5-year-olds sipping cold beers at lunch break.
The strategy was tested out at the Lagere Gemengde School in Hasselt, and the pupils there seemed to like it. A 2001 Akron Beacon Journal article reported that 75 percent of the students that were polled favored the new beers over other soft beverages.
But the parents and guardians of the kids did not like this idea and strongly opposed it. The concept of alcohol consumption, even if in low quantities, was not well received by the families of these kids. Hence, this project or experiment was stopped a while later.
– Legality of Underage Drinking
Underage drinking is not legal in Belgium. The legal drinking age in Belgium is officially 16 years, which is why some people consider it underage drinking. There was a time when Belgium experimented with school kids and wanted to serve them low-alcohol beer for lunch, but that experiment did not work very well.
– Fruit Beer or Non-alcoholic Beer for Kids
There are actually many fruit beer and non-alcoholic beer options for kids and adults in Belgium. If you do not want your kids to consume beer at 16, which is quite reasonable in Belgium, you can buy a non-alcoholic beer instead.
Some of the options you can try include:
- Erdinger Alkoholfrei: Non-alcoholic beer
- Brugse Sport Zot: Alcohol Free
- Jever Fun: Non-alcoholic beer
- VELTINS Pilsener: Non-alcoholic
- Paulaner Hefe-Weißbier: Alcohol free
But when you are traveling to Belgium, you might need travel tips on whether or not your kids under 16 will be allowed to drink beer in this country in case you want to offer them a drink. The answer is yes; there is no legal or social barrier for kids 16 years or over to drink beer or wine. They can both buy and consume alcohol without any legal consequences.
– Belgian Children Allowed in Bars
Kids of any age are allowed inside bars in Belgium, but there can be no dancing involved. This is to help in the moral protection of children. As we have already mentioned, everyone who is over 16 years of age can order and drink beer.
Did this article help clear your doubts about Belgium kids drinking beer?
Let us do a quick recap before we wrap up.
- No, kids are not served alcohol in Belgium. The legal beer-drinking age in Belgium is 16, which is still considered too young in many Western countries.
- At 16, people in Belgium are legally allowed to buy and consume beer and wine because they have low alcohol quantity. But they are only allowed to buy stronger spirits after they are 18.
- When traveling to Belgium or Germany, it is legal to offer your kids to have beers, as long as they are 16 years old and above.
- There was a time in Belgium when they had proposed that kids of 3 to 15 years of age should be served beer in school. The reason to do this was to address the problems of kids consuming a lot of sugary drinks and facing obesity issues.
- It was legal for kids in Belgium and Europe to drink beer of every age during older times because of the fear of water contamination during the Plague, but this is not in practice anymore.
With this, do not worry that kids in Belgium legally consume alcohol because they are not allowed to by law.