Belgium

   
Belgium – the country and its languages

United Europe?  Even a country as small as Belgium isn’t united!  It is divided into Flanders, where 5.5 million people speak Flemish (Dutch, with a softer accent and quite a few dialect words); Wallonia where most of its 3.5 million inhabitants speak French – except for a few (60,000) in East Wallonia who speak German; and Brussels which is officially bi-lingual (Dutch/French) but tends to veer towards French (90%), and has 1 million inhabitants. 

The three main regions – Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels – are autonomous, with their own administrations and own parliaments.  But the linguistic groups are also autonomous and have their own parallel administrations and parliaments.  Then there’s the national administration and parliament, so Belgium is described as a Federal state of about 10 million citizens, half of whom grudgingly tolerate the other half! 

 
If you remember some French from school, it can be useful in Wallonia and Brussels – but don’t use it in Flanders or it may reduce the warmth of your welcome in some places!  In Flanders they are usually good at English, happy to speak it, and generally are very welcoming to us Brits.  Of course, if you become a dedicated follower of Belgian beer, it could be useful to learn Dutch, and there’s a very good correspondence course from (and subsidised by) the Flemish ministry - details  from BIS - make sure you look for EN for the English pages!
Until you enrol on your language course, the phrases below may help you get by.  (Based on, but in no way a replacement for, Tim Webb's excellent book.)
 

The Belgian Beer Traveller’s Essential Phrase Book

English

Dutch/Flemish

French

Barley

Gerst

Orge

Best before

Terminste houdbaar tot

À consommer de préférence avant

Bottle (in a)

In fles

En bouteille

Bottled by

Gebotteld door

Embouteillée par

Bottom fermentation

Lage gisting

Fermentation basse

Brewed by

Gebrouwen door

Brassée par

Brewery

Brouwerij

Brasserie

Cork

Kurk

Bouchon

Deposit

Statiegeld

Dépôt

Draught (on)

Van ’t vat

Au fût

Fridge temperature

Frigo

À froid

Hop

Hop

Houblon

Malt

Mout

Malt

Master Brewer

Brouwmeester

Maître Brasseur

Matured

Gerijpt

Mûri(e)

Oak casks

Eiken vaten

Foudres

Oats

Haver

Avoine

Refermented in the bottle

Nagisting in vles

Refermentée en bouteille

Room temperature

Kamertemperatuur

Chambrée

Rye

Rogge

Seigle

With sediment

Op gist

Sur lie

Spices

Kruiden

Épices

Spontaneous fermentation

Spontane gisting

Fermentation spontanée

Sugar

Suiker

Sucre

Taste

Smaak

Goût

Top fermentation

Hoge gisting

Haute fermentation

Wheat beer

Tarwebier

Bière du froment

White beer

Wit bier

Bière blanche

Yeast

Gist

Levure

 

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