Whenever we think about belgian beer, countries like Germany, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom come to mind, … but if there is a country that defines better than anyone the importance of beer and what this wonderful product means, that is Belgium.
What are we talking about in numbers? Belgium is the country in the world with the most beer brands, more than 1500, more than 700 variants of beer are produced in this country, and Leuven is the headquarters of the most important beer company in the world, ABinBev. With these simple figures, it is safe to say that Belgium is the country of beer.
A little history about beer in Belgium
Beer, it is true, began to be produced thousands of years ago as a porridge to be able to feed itself, but in Belgium we can say that its idyll with the golden liquid began in the Middle Ages. At that time, due to the unhealthy water, they began to make this drink, which when boiled, could be consumed massively without endangering the health of citizens.
At that time the privilege was given to the abbeys and monasteries so that they were the ones who made this drink and sold it among the population, since they were the citizens who had the basic knowledge to make it. It is because of this that abbey beers have traditionally been considered to be of higher quality.
Types of beer
As we have said, in Belgium there are more than 1500 beer brands and each one of them produces more than one variant of this product, so it is always difficult to make a list of all of them. Here a few of the most common and typical types of Belgian beer will be given.
Also known as the “industrialization of beer”, it is a beer that is characteristically light blonde, with a mild flavor and a low alcohol content. It is usually drunk cold and is a refreshing beer. It is the type of consumption, due to its low alcohol content, most consumed.
The most popular pils beers are: Jupiler, Maes or Stella Artois.
These beers are possibly among the highest quality, but one of the things that confuses the public is that all abbey beer is believed to be Trappist. However, not all abbey beer is Trappist, but all Trappist beer has to be abbey.
- The beers that are part of this group must meet three characteristics:
- The abbeys that produce this type of beer must be of the Cirtencian Order of Strict Observation. Beer must be produced within the abbey, made by the monks or under their supervision.
- All the profits from the sale of the beer must be invested in improving the infrastructures of the abbey or donate it to social work.
The order of the Trappists only have 14 beers and five are Belgian, which denotes the quality of Belgian beer worldwide. Possibly the most cultured beer among them all is Westvleteren, produced by the monks of the Sint-Sixtus abbey
The other Trappist beers are: Chimay, Westmalle, Orval, and Rochefort.
At present, not all abbey beers are made on the religious grounds nor are they traditional abbey beers. Haberlas, hailas, but most of them are disused abbeys that a beer company has bought their name from and they make the beer elsewhere. For this reason, a few years ago a label was created in Belgium to designate the beers that are actually still made in the abbey.
Among the most significant are: Grimbergen, Saint-Bernardus, Val Dieu or Leffe.
They are a type of beers that ferment spontaneously. They are produced on the outskirts of Brussels, since the microorganism that allows fermentation can be done using wild yeasts occurs here. This type of beers have a very special flavor that will not leave anyone indifferent. They are made in small family-owned breweries, which are only open from October to May.
They can be found in the bars of Brussels, and one of the most typical is Moeder Lambic
There is no beer brand that currently does not have an IPA among the varieties they offer. It is a very hoppy beer, with the current taste, therefore, quite bitter and with a high concentration of alcohol.
Recommended within this group: Zinnebir or Chouffe Houblon
Doubles or dubbel
They are a variety of beer that began making in the abbeys, but now almost all brands have one. It is a type of beer with intense flavor and slightly sweet. It contains a high alcohol content and is consumed at room temperature.
The most popular among Belgians are: Chimay Bleue or Gulden Draak.
In Belgium, each beer has its corresponding glass and it is a must to drink the beer in its own glass. This way, the flavor is much more enjoyable.
As we said at the beginning of the article, Belgium has more than 700 beer variants, so this list would be very difficult to finalize, there are many important variants left: triple, quadruple, wit, amber, imperial, … so yes If you visit Belgium we recommend that you join the Chocolate and Beer Tour in Brussels, here you will learn how to order a beer correctly in Belgium.