Brewing in Belgium has a long history, dating back to the Roman Gallo era. As in the rest of Europe, beer was seen as a healthy alternative to drinking water, which was often of suspect quality. Traditions and the passing on of trade secrets from father to son have created a unique Belgian beer culture, leading to a large number and diversity of beer styles from abbey beer to lambiek.
In the late 19th century, Belgium had well over 200.000 cafes, which meant there was a cafe for every five houses. On top of the in home consumption, cafes were supplied by more than 3.000 breweries.