All About Belgian Beer
Belgium has a long history of brewing beers which dates back to the era when beer was brewed in monasteries.
Belgian beer is accredited with the maximum number of beer varieties in the world, with around 500 standard variants produced on a regular basis. Include one-off productions and the number gets doubled! Imagine choosing from a thousand varieties of beer, right from the lightest pale lager to Flemish red!
Now, the obvious question: Why/How did they start producing that many varieties?
The Vandervelde Act that was passed in the year 1919 banned the sale and distribution of spirits; consequently, brewers more than compensated for the absence of spirits by introducing more varieties of beer with high alcohol content.
Belgian Beer Types
Although named abbey, this type of beer is not produced in abbeys, but are brewed by commercial breweries which make use of the names and recipes from an abbey that no longer exists.
Amber is an adaptation of the British-style ales which have an alcohol content about 5% ABV.
Bitter and Hoppy Beers
Some of the Belgian beers are pale and strongly hopped.
Blonde or Golden Ale
These blonde ales are regarded as light triples rather than a unique type.
Produced in the Trappist monastery, Dubbels are brown in color and an alcohol content between 6 and 8% abv.
Enkel is the term used to refer to weakest beer produced in a Trappist abbey.
A reddish-brown colored beer with a mix of acidic and fruity flavors.
These beers have a tart taste and are distinctly different as they are fermented using wild yeast and bacteria found in the Senne valley.
Flemish Sour Brown Ale
These beers are aged in wooden barrels.
With a light color and a smooth taste, they contribute to about 75% of Belgium’s total beer production.
Saison, or seasonal beers, are light-to-medium bodied beers, have a low alcohol level and a fruity flavor.
These are heavy-bodied brown ales with a sweet taste.
Belgian stouts are dark and bitter.
With around 1.5% abv, they are served to be consumed with meals. With a low alcohol content, they’re sometimes considered substitutes for soft drinks.
Trappists are ales brewed in a Trappist monastery, using top-fermenting yeasts. For a beer to be branded Trappist, they must be brewed by or under the guidance of Trappist monks.
Tripel is an Abbey/Trappist style beer which has a higher alcohol content and strong bitter taste. They are generally blond or brown color.
A type of wheat beer flavored with spices (like coriander and orange peel). It is also sometimes served with cardamom, grains of paradise, and cumin seeds.