It’s Belgium, it’s my turn to do a post…it’s about beer 😉
Belgian beers are renowned by beer aficionados as being among the best in the world. In fact, Rick Steves (travel guru) mentioned in an audio tour that there are 3-day weekend beer trips from the North East USA to Belgium, for those with a beer palate and some extra travel money.
So, given that there are over 200 breweries in Belgium, we endeavoured to sample from a few during our week there. The people we saw during our time in Belgium (locals and tourists alike) do seem to drink a lot of beer – and at all hours of the day. Maybe it was the beautiful stretch of weather we enjoyed – the terraces/patios were packed from 10:30 am until closing, with rarely any drink other than beer in evidence. So, it’s tough to believe that beer consumption in Belgium has decreased almost 12% over the past 10 years – and (rumour has it) consumption is down 80% from levels of 100 years ago?! (Apparently at that time they were drinking beer partly because they couldn’t drink the dirty water, and fermentation killed the ‘bugs’….)
Fun Fact: the 48th chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict states “for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands”. Following this rule, most Trappist monasteries produce goods that are sold to provide income for the monastery. This certainly includes beer, and very good beer at that. Trappist beer is brewed by Trappist monks in twelve monasteries — six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands, and one each in Austria, Italy, England and the United States.
One item that gets a lot of air time in Belgium is the shape of the glass for each beer. As oenophiles will tell you, wine in glasses with certain shapes allows the wine to breathe and for the ‘taster’ to more fully experience the ‘delicate bouquet’… same with beer! Unfortunately we weren’t always able to try beer in the recommended glass, and therefore may not have had the full experience. You can see the various suggested glass shapes below…
My rankings of Belgian beer we tasted (based on nothing other than my enjoyment factor):
16 – Cristal – 5% – Light Pilsner – seems to be the Coors Lite of Belgium 😦
15 – Leffe Ruby – 5% – a mistaken bar order – raspberries and beer don’t go well together!
14 – Klets Extra Hop – 8% – Bier En Karakter – DM Notes: somewhat hoppy for a Belgian beer, but quite muddy and not close to my favoured IPA
13 – Fort Lapin – Snowlapin – 9% – Family-run brewery in beautiful Brugge
12 – Saison Dupont – 6.5% – the salesperson at the store was very surprised I’d not heard of this beer before!
11- – Fort Lapin – Blanche – 5% – a simple white beer that Sara liked 😉
10 – Grimbergen Blonde – 6.7% –
5 – Augustijn Grand Cru – 9% – Trappist
5 – Chimay Bleue – 9% – Trappist
5 – Chimay Tripel – 8% – Trappist
5 – Duvel – 8.5% – BTW: duvel means devil in Flemish!
5 – Affligem Tripel – 9% –
3 – Gulden Draak – 10.5% – Dark Belgian beer – highly recommended by Nick, our tour guide in Ghent. Named after the statue of the Golden Dragon stolen from Brugge, according to their local lore!
3 – Duvel Tripel Hop – 9.5% – the hops make a very positive difference compared to my #5 Duvel above.
And the Top 2 Belgian beers tasted, according to me => in a tie:
1 – Delirium Tremens – 8.5% – StrongBlond – Triple fermentation – great taste as well as a fun logo!
1 – Ename Tripel Abdijbier – 8,5% – Golden Blond – Liner notes: Nose: complex, fruit, honey, yeast and sweet malt. Taste: fruit, malt, mildly hoppy and Belgian yeast. DM Notes: Another beauty that needs to be enjoyed slowly –sipped – with no car keys in sight 😉
And that was one week in Belgium!! Let me know if you have any suggestions to add to the list, and we’ll try to get to them after some time in the gym….!