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Food by VICE

Why This Belgian Bar Makes You Trade Your Shoe for a Beer

"We accept all kinds of shoes."

by Ilkka Sirén
Mar 20 2018, 4:00pm

Composite image; left image courtesy Dulle Griet, right image from Instagram user sanderbossie94.

Belgium is a place of pilgrimage for countless hop-loving, beer-enjoying connoisseurs, and for a good reason: It’s one of the best beer countries in the world. If this were The Matrix, but with beer—bear with me—Belgium would be the place where the party would be after the beer-hating machines tried to off everyone.

But things in Belgium have taken a slightly odd turn of late. It seems that it’s not only the beer that people are after, but the beer glasses too. There’s been an alarming trend of souvenir hunting (aka glass stealing) brewing for a while now, and pub owners are fed up. Some have started taking steps to ensure the safety of their precious glassware—some of which can cost up to 50 euros a piece.

“All our beer glasses are protected against theft,” says Philip Maes, the owner of 2be Bruges, which secures an electronic anti-theft tag to each glass. “Some of the glasses are manually crafted and therefore unique; some of the tourists are eager to have their own copy to bring back home as a trophy. Unfortunately they prefer not to pay for the glass.”

According to Maes, theft has always been a problem, but the new tags take care of quite a bit. They don’t involve the police, either: “No, we don’t get that far. The overwhelming shame once the alarm goes off at the gate is usually embarrassing enough for them. It’s mostly about dissuading people, and it probably dissuades about 80 percent. The other 20 percent? They’ll always find a way.”

Dulle Griet in Ghent has a different solution for this particular problem: If you want to drink a beer, you’ll have to give them your shoe as collateral. Wait, what? Don’t worry; you get your shoe back. When you have finished your beer, like Cinderella, you will be reunited with your Yeezys.

Apparently, people have walked out shoeless, but so far, no one has tried to walk into the bar without shoes. And when it comes to shoes, Dulle Griet doesn’t discriminate. “We actually accept all kinds of shoes, but we realize that a flip-flop is not as valuable as the beer glass.” says owner Alex De Vriendt.

Customers’ shoes, once surrendered, go in a basket that dangles from the ceiling. It sounds a bit weird, but let’s be honest, it’s not the most embarrassing piece of clothing that could go up there. What wouldn’t you do for a glass of beer, right?

Looking at Dulle Griet’s big-ass glasses, with their built-in wooden racks to keep them upright, it’s evident that some type of protection is needed. I mean, even I want one! But seriously guys, stealing is wrong. The glass is not a free memento for you to take to snuggle with in your old age. Just pay for the beer, drink the fucking thing, and go.