Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Belgian Beer
Belgium is a small country but there is nothing small about their production of beers and ales. In fact, since the Middle Ages Belgium has had a reputation for producing quality beers, and they have influenced beer and ale production in many other countries, including the United States.
By conservative estimates, there are over four-hundred-fifty different types of beer brewed in Belgium. If you take a Belgium beer tour vacation, you can visit brewery after brewery and sample just about every kind of beer. Beer that is brewed in Belgium includes white beers or blanche beers. These are also called wheat beers and sometimes have a bit of a taste of citrus.
Lambic beer is a regional beer that can be found in and around Brussels. This draft beer is described by the Brussels’ tourism accounts as being a “non-malted wheat beer, fermented by wild, airborne yeasts.” The Belgians have also taken this Lambic beer and combined two versions together to make Gueuze, which is said to have a sparkle much like champagne.
Still other Lambic beers are Faro and Kriek–Faro is more or less a light Lambic beer, while Kriek is a Lambic beer that is fermented further with the addition of raspberries and cherries. Belgium is also famous for brown beers, red beers, and golden beers. Brown beers have a unique blend of caramel-like sweetness mixed with a sour taste that comes from many months of aging. Red beers come from red barley–they too combine sweet and sour tastes in a unique blend that is sometimes described as fruity.
Golden Beers are somewhat like a pilsner lager, but they are obtained from pale hops and malts and ale yeasts. The original pilsner beer came from Bohemia, which is located in the Czech Republic. It is highly carbonated and has a thick white head. The taste is somewhat tangy with a bit of bitterness. A pilsner usually has five-percent alcohol content.
The oldest beer brewers in Belgium are actually the Trappist monks, who use methods and recipes that have been passed down through the centuries to make distinctly Trappist beers. There are six different Trappest monasteries that currently support themselves by brewing beer. These include Orval, Achel, Chimay, Westyleteren, Rochefort and Westmalle. The beers they make usually bear the name of the monastery.
There also Abbey beers which are produced in Belgium. In most cases, the beers are not produced in monasteries but there may be a business relationship where an abbey contracts a commercial brewery to produce a certain beer. Abbey beers include Duvel, Leffe, Kwak, Affligem, Corsendonk, Grimbergen and Karmeliet.
Currently, Belgium has around one-hundred-twenty-five different breweries producing close to five hundred beers. They are sold in both small cafes that may have only a few brands to much larger bars that might have a thousand or more kinds. The Belgians are masters when it comes to beer brewing and having an appreciation for quality pilsners, beers, ales and lagers. You can find just about any flavoring too, from strawberry or raspberry to chocolate. If you can arrange it, give yourself a real treat and try some of these Belgian brews.
For more info visit www.BeerTrap.com or www.EuropesBestBeer.com