The Belgian amber ales have always been a favorite variety of beer not just in Belgium but also for the rest of the world. In fact it has even undergone different styles to incorporate a localized style of amber ale, like an American one. But what really does this Belgian amber ale have that makes it so special?
Belgian amber ales traces its roots back from some thousands of years ago, when brewing was still cottage manufactured in pots. After some time, these pots were later replaced with wooden barrels as the primary storage means of the ales which would dramatically change the flavor – and for the better!
When the church came to power around the 13th century, monks became the primary brewers and their monasteries became the standard breweries. About 100 years later, hops were introduced as another main ingredient in the production of beer which would also significantly improve the quality of beer as hops adds stability and imparts its bitter, tangy characteristic flavor.
Beer making has then evolved throughout the centuries and by the late 1900′s, when the pale lager beer made its popularity in Belgium, local brewers tried to replicate its success by creating a variety of a paler, clearer, and of lower strength beer than the traditional. This became known as the amber style which also turned out to be a success.
Belgian amber ales differ from every type of Belgian beer not only because of its unique color but also because of its character. Belgian amber ale takes its characteristic taste from the brewing process by which a special type of yeast, commonly referred to as Belgian yeast, is used. It is always filtered and pasteurized with the amber color resulting from the use of caramelized malt.
It has a fruity, yeasty character with a spicy and soft savor caused by this style’s unique fermentation techniques. Most brewers do add spices, and these spices contribute to the unique taste as it also alters and improves the malty aroma. They are commonly variable as is according to the brewer’s preferences. The result has a pleasant mix of unique flavors, a soothing mouth feel and a satisfying hop aftertaste. Most are moderately strong with 5-7% alcohol content especially in major brands.
The De Koninck brand is one of the most famous and popular examples of Belgian amber ales. It was regarded to have its quality decline the further you get it from its home in Antwerp in Belgium, but wherever you have one you’ll notice it’s rich and unique colors and flavors particular to Belgium. Beers of this style also includes:
2.) Gouden Carolus
3.) Bruegel Amber Ale
4.) Bourgogne des Flandres Biere Brune
5.) Straffe Hendrik
Some beer enthusiasts claim that amber ales in general are sensitive to temperamental factors, and therefore Belgium, being included in the so called Beer Belt, definitely has a unique touch to its beer products because of its climate. This may be one of the reasons as to why Belgian amber ales do have its unique characteristic. But the most important factor to the rich and delicious flavors in Belgian amber ales is that they contain the whole Belgian culture and tradition to every glass of it. Years of brewing traditions are reflected in every bottle, and this is what makes it really special…and delicious