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Last updated at 10:26 GMT, Friday, 01 March 2013

Belgian beer dispute


15 January 2010

In Belgium, a country famous for its beer, an industrial dispute means a blockade is threatening supplies of Stella Artois and Leffe, two of the country's favourite beers.

Dominic Hughes

Workers blockading the InBev brewery in Leuven, Belgium


Click to hear the report:


It's scarcely believable, in beer-loving Belgium supplies of two of the country's most famous beers, Stella Artois and Leffe, could be about to run out. A week-long blockade at the headquarters of InBev, the world's biggest brewing company, has stopped any beer from leaving the brewery. Supermarkets and bars around the country have warned that stocks are running low.

The unions are protesting against plans to cut more than 250 jobs and so far talks aimed at resolving the dispute have got nowhere. But there's no need to panic just yet. There are probably around 125 breweries in Belgium producing around 800 standard beers. Add in special one-off brews, and some experts believe there could be more than 8,000.


Click to hear the vocabulary:


scarcely believable

very difficult to believe because it's so unlikely

run out

finish, use or sell all of something, so that there is none left


when a factory is surrounded by workers to stop goods (here, beer) from going in or out


process of making beer (usually from hops, water, malt and yeast)


place where beer is made

stocks are running low

the supply (here, of beer) is getting very small

unions are protesting

organised groups of workers are showing their disagreement by taking some action (for example, withdrawing their labour or here, stopping beer leaving the brewery)

to cut

to reduce or make smaller

talks aimed at resolving the dispute have got nowhere

discussions to try to find a solution to the problem have not been successful


something (here, a supply or batch of beer) that is made only once