I went back to the fatherland* (Belgium) for the holidays where I spent a lot of time drinking our famous beers. Famous they are and for good reason. We have more than 300 breweries brewing more than 1000 different beers for a country with a population (11 millions) lower than Bangkok’s. And only a few of those beers don’t taste so great. Of course good beer is brewed outside of Belgium as well but no other country produces so much quality on such a large scale.
The world knows this too and thus we’re famous for our beer. You might even know a couple of them. However, here are some lesser-known Belgians that are very much worth trying if you come across them.
Oude Geuze Boon
Lambic style beer is all about fermenting with local airborne yeasts. The name Lambic comes from the town of Lembeek near Brussels. This opaque orange beer is sour and refreshing and by taste you wouldn’t think this was aged for a couple of years in oak casks. Brewing this beer is no easy feat and the Boon brewery shows perfect craftsmanship with this one.
Westmalle seems to be one of our lesser known Trappist beers. Think of Chimay Blue but more complicated. This dark brown beer almost looks like a stout, maintains a nice balance between bitter and sweet with a nice dry finish.
Flowery, citrusy with a hint of honey. This opaque blonde carries layers of flavor and tastes remarkably light for a beer clocking in at 8% abv.
Piraat is, indeed, Dutch for Pirate. This amber colored beer is slightly sweet with hop and malt on the palate and a bittersweet finish. At 10,5% abv it’s a beer you want to take your time for.
You probably have heard of Duvel, the strong Belgian blonde poured in a tulip shaped chalice. Duvel is a great beer but lost its edge recently due to changes in the production process. Omer takes its place. Omer has a similar taste but has a lot more to offer. Its fresh taste is a beautiful layer of hops, fruits and malt with a long dry finish.
Very dry and aromatic. The color is a dirty orange. There’s some sourness, some sweetness and some bitterness. It tastes funky and fermented but not over the top. Overall, Orval is a perfect balancing act. In my opinion, it’s the best of the Belgian Trappist beers.
Of course Belgium has a lot more to offer. This selection is but a tiny sample. Next time you want to try a Belgian beer, leave the Hoegaarden, Stella and Leffe for what they are and try something you’re not familiar with. You’ll be surprised, pleasantly that is.
[Article by Alexander Eeckhout]