About Belgian Beer
Belgium’s brewing history dates back to the 12th century. The Catholic Church granted local French and Flemish abbeys to brew and distribute beer as a way to raise funds. These traditional, artisanal brewing methods evolved under abbey supervision over the next seven centuries. Belgium’s first Trappist brewery, Westmalle, began operating in 1836 and the beer was exclusively produced for the monks. The first recorded sale of beer in the country was in 1861.
While there are several varieties of Belgian beer, they are classified as Trappist or Abbey Beers.
Trappist Beers- this refers to beers that are brewed in Trappist monasteries. For a beer to qualify for a Trappist certification it must adhere to the following.
-The brewery must be in a monastery.
-The monks must play a role in its production.
-The policies and profits from the sale of the beer must be used to support the monastery or social programs outside.
Abbey Beers- these beers are similar in style or presentation to monastic beers. For a beer to be labeled an Abbey beer it must adhere to one of the following.
-The beer is produced in a non-Trappist monastery.
-The beer is produced by a commercial brewery under a commercial agreement with an extant monastery.
-The beer is branded with the name of a defunct abbey by a commercial brewer.
The common beers produced in Belgium are as follows:
• Belgian Blond Ale- a medium-bodied, smooth beer with a slightly sweet fruitiness and malt over spice.
• Belgian Dark Strong Ale- big, bold and spiced with dried fruit.
• Belgian Golden Strong Ale- has fruity flavors of apples, oranges and pears with spice and a dry finish.
• Belgian Pale Ale- a smoother beer with less spice and floral characters than the other varieties.
• Dubbel- a malty, rich and raisiny dry fruit flavors with almost no hops present and a dry finish.
• Flanders Red- a medium-bodied beer with fruity flavors that can be sour, tannic and complex.
• Lambic- a sour, earthy beer with almost no hop bitterness.
• Oud Bruin- has sour notes, dark chocolate or caramel flavors with notes of figs or dates with a very dry finish.
• Saison- these beers use a distinctive yeast strain which gives the beer a white pepper finish.
• Tripel- a spicy with bright fruit and a lot of carbonation.
• Witbier- citrusy and fruit-forward, balanced fruit and spices without much of a hop presence.
Belgian Dark Strong Ales
Chimay Grande Réserve Blue
Chimay Premiere Red
Monk’s Café Grand Cru Flemish Sour Ale
Gulden Draak Imperial Stout