The difference between Belgium and UK drinking cultures

Let’s face it, both the British and the Belgians love a good beer, after a hard day at work, together with dinner, during the weekend,… a lot of opportunities for a beer. However, there are some substantial differences between the drinking culture of the two countries.

When do British and Belgians drink?

An interesting observation is that the British seem to start drinking straight after work with their colleagues and friends, or sometimes they’d even have a cheeky beer during working hours – any day after 4/5PM anyone? Of course, this isn’t accepted by all employers and it is highly dependant on who you work for. As the British arrive in the pubs around 6PM, the pubs close around 11PM so everyone can go home and have a good night sleep.

On the contrary, when Belgians start drinking is quite different. Rather than starting directly after work, they’d usually go home first, have a shower and then go to the local pub to have a drink with their friends. Rarely, Belgians have drinks during working hours, this is usually reserved for Fridays after 5PM but never during the week. Of course, dependant on the employer, but this is the general consensus.

When do British and Belgian Pubs close?

As a result, as Belgians arrive later in the pubs, the pubs also do stay open for a longer period of time. Pubs in Belgium generally stay open until 2-3AM in the morning. Be careful of sticking around if you have work the next day in the morning. Pub in the United Kingdom generally close at 11PM, but of course, the British have already been in the pub since 6PM (or earlier).

What day to British and Belgians Drink?

As British tend to drink with colleagues after work, there appears to be more of mid-week drinking culture than in Belgium. Especially in London this seems true, as everyone is so busy in the weekends you also meet up with colleagues and friends during the week for a cheeky drink in the pub. In Belgium however, most of the drinks are consumed towards the end of the week, pubs also generally close on Mondays and Tuesdays as these are the most quiet days.

The difference between British and Belgian beers

There’s a big difference between Belgian beers and British beers and this is reflected in the way that they are drink. The British do like a longer drinking session with lots of pints, which are generally of a lower alcohol quantity in comparison the the Belgian counterparts, on average British pints have a ABV of 4.5 -5.5%.

The Belgians, however, have a wide range of speciality beer which is consumed during the evening, the beer is generally of higher alcohol quantity, between 5-7% on average. It would be difficult to find a beer below the 5% percentage in Belgium, the usual ABV for lagers is 5.2%.

Difference between British and Belgian drinking habits?

As there’s a big difference in beers, there’s also a difference in how they are consumed. The British really enjoy the big pints (568ml) and usually don’t tend to go to any speciality beers on offer as these are served in smaller formats. There appears to be a bigger pressure to finish your pint to keep up with everyone else around the table.

In Belgium, the majority of beers are served in 25ml or 33ml glasses or bottles, about half a pint on average. It might seem annoying to go the bar after every half pint, but remember the Belgian beers are quite a bit stronger and because of this the people in Belgium do drink their beers a bit slower. Belgians generally tend to really try to enjoy their beers and pick beers based on their personal preference and taste.

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