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A shoe as collateral: Belgian cafe has unique strategy to stop glass thefts

14:08 17/08/2023

With Belgian beers’ world famous reputation, it is perhaps no surprise that some tourists or other patrons look to abscond from pubs with a souvenir in the form of a beer glass.

As a result, Le Soir reports, some establishments are taking extra - and unusual - measures to prevent theft.

The Dulle Griet bar in Ghent, renowned for its wide selection of beers, requires patrons to hand over a shoe as a security deposit before being served one of its beers.

The Guardian described Dulle Griet as one of the “best bars in the world”, pointing out not only its beer selection but also its unique medieval decor.

The pub serves more than 500 varieties of beers but one of the most popular is a fairly strong beer called MAX which is served in a huge boot-shaped 1.2-litre glass.

The glass is especially popular with tourists and repeated thefts have occurred, prompting Dulle Griet to enact its unique deposit system.

“We used to lose at least 4,000 glasses every year,” the manager explained in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad.

“For some obscure reason, some customers think that when they pay for something to drink, they receive the glass as a gift.”

Therefore, patrons now must forfeit their shoe, which is placed into a basket and returned when the beer is finished.

Following the example of the Dulle Driet, other Belgian establishments have taken actions to stop their glasses from being stolen: in Bruges, the owner of the Bruges Beerwall installed an alarm system attached to the stem of each glass.

More traditional glass deposits are already commonplace elsewhere in Belgium, in particular at local festivals.

However usually, instead of an article of clothing, patrons pay a deposit of a few euros which they can then collect when returning their empty glass.

Written by Helen Lyons