Belgian bars take security measures to avoid tourists from stealing beer glasses

“The glasses are quite expensive because we have made them specially.” – Alex Devriendt. © Carmen Moya Tárraga

Many tourists come to visit Belgium not only to enjoy their beautiful cities, but also for their tasty and unique beers. One consequence of this wide number of tourists is that many of them steal the glasses due to their innovative and original designs, which made barmen take some actions to avoid this glass robbery.

One of the most famous and typical things of this country is the quality of its beers, which attracts many tourists. That’s why some bar owners from Belgium are trying to prevent tourists steal their glasses, as this is a big loss or money for them. Waiters are used to find less glasses on the table once the customers are gone.

One of the first bartender that came up with a technique is the owner of the Bruges Beerwall cafe , a bar that is overlooking the city’s central Groenerei canal. Philip Maes, found himself in the obligation of adding alarms to the glasses, due to the huge quantity of glasses that are stolen in his business. “We have lost around 4,000 glasses this year. Tourists really like to trough the city while they’re drinking beer. For some reason, some customers think that when they pay for their drink, they’re already given the glass as a gift ”, declares Philip.

But this isn’t only happening in a bar from this fairy-tale town. Also in Ghent, there’s a bar that took measures to fight against glass thieves. The Dulle Griet , a bar that offers more than 500 different types of beer, has a very original way to prevent customers from leaving without paying: you finish your drink, and of course, until you pay. In this bar you can find more that 500 beers, but you have to know that you will be barefoot your whole stay. “Everyone who wants to drink, has to give us one of their shoes. We put it in a basket that is on the ceiling. The thing is that this basket turned out another tourist curiosity. Now, some people come to our bar just because this is fun for them.But of course, this is still a guarantee for us, “said Alex Devriendt

Devriendt says that they have to expand their inventory daily. Tourists just want a souvenir, so some of them reach the point of taking the vintage posters or the walls. “In winter many things disappear because they have big anoraks to hide things, in summer they have more complications to do so”.

Why people do it?

Beer glasses have different shapes and sizes. They are designed specifically for every beer, and each has a different way to be served. For instance, a Duvel beer glass has tulip shape, and you have to tip it 45 degrees to reach the right level or enjoy it in all its splendor. One of the most stolen glasses in Brugges is the Brugse Zot beer, because it’s the beer or the only brewery of the city.


Who pays the glasses then?

It’s true that most of the times, the same beer brand provides the glasses to the bars as a way of promotion, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t expensive for them. “In this bar, I have to order around 1,000 more glasses every month.” Providers are interested in having enough glasses for all the customers who order, because that makes the drink more special. Although it’s more expensive if everyone is taking them. Jan Paillaert says that hotels are just as bad as cafes, because more glasses disappear there.


Text: Carmen Moya Tárraga, pictures: © Carmen Moya Tárraga, infobae