Belgian beer guide
October 27, 2023
Belgian beer has delighted many beer drinkers across the world. Known for its perfect balance of taste and ingredients, Belgian beers have been dominating the beer landscape for many years, and we’re fortunate to offer an extensive range of Belgian beers at our stores.
In today’s article, we will dive into Belgian beer; discussing the different types of beer, top breweries, and the current Belgian beer culture.
Belgian beer culture
Belgium boasts a quite remarkable beer culture which originates deep within its history, society and way of life. Firstly, Belgian beer dates back hundreds of years when monasteries first created Trappist ales and many others. These styles are still brewed to this day through generations of passing down knowledge; perfecting the style whilst sticking to its original principles. This has resulted in a diverse and venerable brewing tradition, which makes it stand out from other countries' brews.
Beer is not just a beverage in Belgium; it's a part of daily life. Belgians often enjoy a beer with meals, and it's common to see families gathered around the table, sharing stories over a glass of their favourite brew. Beer is not seen as merely a means of intoxication but as a source of pride, identity, and social bonding. This is why it’s held in such high regard by its consumers across the globe.
Moreover, this is why there is lots of tradition and festivals surrounding Belgian beer too. Throughout the year, the country hosts plenty of festivals such as Brussels Beer Festival, Nacht van de Grote Dorst, and of course - Zythos - the epitome of a Belgian beer festival. Zythos promotes the diversity of Belgian beer culture, and it provides smaller/less-known brewers a platform to showcase their hard work and dedication to producing Belgian’s finest beverage.
In addition, Belgian beer culture is steeped in unique traditions, such as the act of pouring lambics and gueuze from peculiarly shaped bottles or the proper way to serve a Trappist ale. Belgians take their beer seriously, valuing tradition and authenticity. Many Belgian breweries continue to use age-old brewing methods, such as open fermentation and bottle conditioning, to preserve the integrity and unique character of their beers.
Types of Belgian beer
Often referred to as a ‘beer paradise’, Belgium is home to an extraordinary array of beer styles, each with its own unique characteristics and flavours.
Firstly, Trappist ales are some of the most revered and authentic Belgian ales. They’re known for their deep complexity, rich malty flavours, and often higher alcohol content.
Slightly reminiscent of Trappist ales, Abbey ales intensifies the classic styles with its own unique twist. Such as higher alcohol content and an increase in fruitiness.
Dubbel, Quadrupel, and Strong Dark Ale
The Dubbel, Quadrupel and dark ales are notoriously known for their depth of flavour and complexity. Each style has a high alcohol content ranging from 6%-12% due to how much character has been added. They are often enjoyed in contemplative sips and pair well with hearty dishes or as a digestif after a meal.
The next Belgian beer is a Tripel. It’s typically a strong pale ale that's known for its light golden colour and high alcohol content. You will notice notes of banana, pear, and even a hint of clove or pepper with a Belgian Tripel.
Pale ale and blonde
Belgian pale ales and blondes are characterised by their moderate alcohol content, golden colour and balanced flavours. Both styles offer a unique tasting experience due to their refreshing, crisp nature. We highly recommend you try both for an easy-drinking expenditure.
Witbier, or "white beer," is a refreshing and hazy wheat beer flavoured with spices like coriander and orange peel. It's light, citrusy, and perfect for warm summer days.
Each of these beer styles has a distinct character, and many are closely tied to specific regions in Belgium. They’re a favourite among beer enthusiasts due to their complexity and acidity. If you’re looking to try something different, a Belgian sour ale could be an option for you.
Top Belgian breweries and their beers
Belgium is known for some of the finest breweries in the world; each of which is full of history and has unique brewing methods.
There’s no better place to begin than Chimay, one of the most popular Belgian breweries around. Known for their distinctive blue, red, and white-labelled beers, which represent different styles and flavour profiles. The Chimay Blue (Grande Réserve) is a strong, dark ale known for its rich malty and fruity notes, while Chimay Red (Première) offers a balanced, malty sweetness.
Duvel is famous for its Duvel Belgian Golden Ale, a strong and effervescent beer known for its crisp, dry finish and fruity esters. Duvel's unique glassware and iconic devil logo have made it easily recognisable all over the world. Lucky for you, here at The Epicurean, we offer a variety of Duvel beers, such as the Duvel Belgian Blonde Ale.
Another popular and well-known Belgian brewery is Westvleteren. It’s arguably one of the most elusive Belgian breweries due to how rare their beers are on the market. Sometimes you have to wait months till you can buy their beers! Their beers are filled to the brim with deep, complex fruity flavour which sets them apart. We highly recommend you try them when they’re available.
Orval Trappist ale is known for its distinct flavour profile, featuring a combination of fruity, spicy, and earthy notes. It is also recognisable by its unique bottle shape and green label.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our Belgian beer guide. If you’d like to learn more about any of the styles we’ve mentioned, or discover the best beer food pairings - get in touch with our team today.
Alternatively, if you would like to dig deeper into Belgian beer, then why not join our new beer club? Every month you will be provided with the finest craft beer that’s been curated by our expert in-house team. Reach out to our team today to learn more!