Beer is a favorite of many and one of the oldest and most traditional places that offers the hundreds of beer varieties is Belgium. Belgian beers have a very long and storied history and have been enjoyed throughout the world for many many years. Belgians don’t just make their beer, they put their heart and livelihood into each beer recipe and it shows as anyone who has enjoyed their beers would surely attest. Beer lovers throughout the world almost always have Belgian beer at the top of their beer list and you should too! For a small country, it is almost unbelievable for this nation to have such a wide range of beer styles. There are roughly 178 breweries in the country that create over 600 beer types, all of which are uniquely delicious. Many beer brewers calls the country “beer paradise” and for good reason.
Here are a couple of interesting facts about Belgian beer:
- Most Belgian craft beer brewers are found in Flanders, which is the Dutch-speaking north region of Belgium (the Flemish Region) and the Brussels Capital Region. Also, Wallonia, (the French-speaking southern region of Belgium) even though a little scarce when it comes to number of breweries, is also known for producing fine beers.
- If you are used to having American and British beer, then there is a high chance that you may find Belgian beers too strong in flavor. Beers in Belgium usually have an alcohol content in the range of 5% to 7% which means that the average range of 3.5% to 5% is considered weak!
- Belgians also take their glassware as seriously as they take their beers. In fact, the invention of the glassware even comes first than the actual beer itself. Most Belgian beer types come with their very own glass that has been specially designed for the drinker to experience the full flavor and aroma of the beer.
- In Belgium, some beers are actually made and sold by monks. Abbey and Trappist beers are types of Belgian beers that monks brew and sell to get money which they use in funding their projects. The name Trappist and Abbey beers, however, does not indicate a certain style or taste of beer. The names merely suggest where the beer was brewed.
- The majority of Belgian beers are “bottle conditioned” which means that they haven’t been filtered and pasteurized before packed. As a result, they are not like other beers that are crystal clear and may actually have some natural sediment.
- Give or take there are at least 10 different styles of Belgian beer (lambic, Abbey/Trappist, sour ale, witbier, brown, amber, saisons, strong golden ale, pilsner, red, specialties, etc.) Even though a normal American and British drinker usually only has 1 type of beer every year, a normal Belgian drinker has been known to drink 7 different beer styles annually.
- One very popular Belgian beer style is the lambic family. This type of beer is brewed using stale hops, wild yeasts, and bacteria. It is infused with fruits that give its refreshing mildly acidic fruity flavor.
- There are four sub-categories under the lambic family which are namely lambic, faro, geuze, and fruit lambics.
- Another common Belgian beer style is the wheat beers which are also known by the name “blanche” and “wit” in Belgium. They are cloudy drinks with protein hazes and some distinct spices on its flavor.
- Old Browns or Brown Ales are considered as the specialty of East Flanders and one of the most popular beer types in Belgium. It is made through the combination of old and young beers and has an acidic taste though not as strong as the Lambic beers.
- Red beers, moreover, is the star of West Flanders. They are popular for their dark color caused by dark malts used in their brewing process. Like geuze and old browns, red beers are also made through a combination of old and young beers.
- Trappist and Abbey beers are also considered Belgian beer styles, though the names are not a reference to certain beer flavors. Breweries need to have an official license to be considered a Trappist brewery and should be fully managed by monks. Breweries of Abbey beers, on the other hand, don’t exactly need a license and are not exactly under the management of monks but uses a recipe of a Trappist beer instead.
- There are a total of seven Trappist breweries in the whole world and six of them are all in Belgium.
- The ordinary ales of the country are probably the most common of Belgian beer styles even though its taste still remains exceptional. They are low in alcohol and are usually copper or bronze in color.
With the number of Belgian beer styles this country produces, it is sometimes hard to categorize them under different beer types. Those that remain uncategorized are considered as specialty ales.
With these fun and fast facts, you can get to know more about Belgium and the beers it is well-known for in no time.