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Beers Of Belgium



Welcome to Beers of Belgium. This blog is about Belgian Beers!



Updated: 2015-09-17T03:49:33.311-07:00

 



Trappist Monastery Beers Belgium

2012-04-05T10:01:21.562-07:00

If you don't know it already, beer and Belgium go together. Trappist Monastery beers are a unique and terrific little sub-set of Belgian beers, and you could set up a great tour around Belgium to include sampling what the monks so lovingly produce.

For centuries, the Trappist monks have been brewing these beers.

Six of Belgium's Trappist monasteries are authorized to use the Authentic Trappist Product label. In order for beers to have this designation, the entire production process must be carried out, or supervised, by Trappist monks inside a Trappist monastery. That doesn't mean that Trappist beers are all alike though.

There is lots of variety. There are some twenty different beers brewed by those six monasteries. Some of these monastery breweries are very old... the oldest having brewed beer for about 1,000 years. They use only the best natural ingredients and the beers are made using traditional, non-mechanized processes.

These monasteries are scattered in a ring around the country. Plot them out on a map, rent a car and drive. You should allow about three days at least to see them all. The monasteries themselves are not usually open to the public, but the churches are, and you can sample the beers nearby. We always think it's fun to know where beer and wine are made... see the source even if you can't tour it.

There are occasional "open door days" when you can tour some of them. You must have a reservation for those tours. For the rest of the year, you can sample the Trappist Monastery beers in local cafes. Some monasteries have an abbey shop where you can try them. Most are also sold all over Belgium... you'll be supporting the monks if you buy some because all the profits go to monastery maintenance and the charitable work done by those religious communities.

Here are the monasteries: Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren -- near Ypres (leper); Our Lady of Scourmont, Chimay; Our Lady of Saint-Remy, Rochefort; Saint Benedict, Achel; Our Lady of Orval, near the village of Florenville; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Westmalle

Sample Westvleteren's rich, malty beer in the welcome center cafe De Vrede across the street from the abbey. Their beer is sold only at the abbey and only with a reservation!

Taste Chimay's classic Blue Beer with a piece of the abbey's beer flavored cheese.

There is a museum in the foundations of the 18th century buildings at Our Lady of Orval. Tour Orval's medieval abby ruins, then taste the beer. Orval also makes bread and cheese that go well with their beer. The abbey's beer and cheese can be bought in the abbey shop. Some of Orval's beers are even exported. At the bottom of their webpage, they pray you drink with wisdom... They say, "A beer brewed with knowledge is tasted with wisdom."

Try Rochefort's dark, sweet beers, which are available in different strengths.

There are plenty of beers to try in Belgium, and there are plenty of cute little cities to visit, but if you want to take a driving tour with a different twist, hop in your rental car and ramble around the country sampling Trappist Monastery Beers.

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This travel tip is brought to you by Stuart Hely of BookCentralCoast.com.au, the specialists in Gosford accommodation. Check us out for the best NSW Central Coast accommodation deals on Gosford accommodation, hotels, resorts, apartments and holiday houses.



Is Belgium boring? Not when it comes to beer!

2012-04-01T06:41:23.235-07:00

It seems a little unfair that Belgium, a small country on the north-west European mainland, has been tagged as 'boring' by her neighbours. Ok - perhaps compared to nations nearby, it doesn't have such geological diversity; you won't find great swathes of forest like in Germany, the hot sandy beaches of Spain or the towering Alpine mountains of France, but who cares about that? Everybody knows the most important thing in life is beer, and when it comes to brewing, Belgium is anything but boring.

Whilst other European countries continue to churn out bland, generic lagers, Belgium has excelled at producing a massive variety of high quality and interesting beers that have made the country synonymous with the amber nectar.

In terms of global popularity, the fairly ordinary, (thought perfectly drinkable) lager - Stella Artois - has dominated pubs around the world and especially in the UK. When first launched it was backed up by the ad campaign which proclaimed it to be "reassuringly expensive". This lead to it being seen as chic and exotic, but it has since dropped in stature somewhat.

In contrast to Stella Artois, the white beer Hoegaarden, is still held in high regard and is available on tap in many pubs and bars across the UK. It's cloudy nature and spicy taste (created by adding extracts of coriander and orange peel) is usually served in the huge trademark Hoegaardeen glass, and sometimes comes with a slice of lime - though some beer purists prefer it unadulterated. It's complex and fruity taste also appeals to the female market, who tend to be less keen on traditional ales and lager. The only downside of Hoegaarden is the cost; due to Hoegaarden being the first white beer widely available in the UK, it cornered the market early and thus tends to be the most expensive beer in the bar, with landlords enjoying a larger than normal markup, for no other reason than that people are willing to pay a premium for something delicious and different.

One of the most well known styles of Belgian beer are the Trappist Ales. Trappist is an order of monks that were (are) noted for their austerity and vow of silence - instead letting their beer do the talking. There are six Trappist breweries in the world and all are in Belgium. They produce brews that are highly regarded in gourmet beer drinking circles such as Orval, Chimay, Rochefort and Achel, which tend to be strong in flavour and in alcohol content.

If you're thinking about visiting Belgium to taste their beers first hand, the Bruges Beer Festival is a great place to start. There you'll find forty brewers offering over 100 different firms' beers, including 5 Trappist Breweries, and you'll be able to sample the best from Belgium's beer-y landscape. Hotels in Bruges get booked up quickly during the festival, so get in early if you want to sample Belgium's finest produce.

So, next time you hear someone say that Belgium is boring, tell them to put down their pint of Stella, and try an Orval, Hoegaarden or Achel, after all, there's more to Belgium than dull lager.

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Adam Singleton is an online freelance journalist from Scotland. His hobbies include travelling and hiking.



Belgian Beers

2010-10-31T02:11:10.648-07:00

If you like beer, then Belgian beers should draw you to visit this little country. The Visit Belgium website says there are over 450 different varieties of beer.

Beer is more than just a drink here... this country cultivates beer connoisseurs. It's true... Belgians take their beer seriously. Many of the beers have specific beer glasses in which that beer, and only that beer, may be served. Just like some wine glasses, each glass is made to enhance the flavor of the beer it is designed for.

Certain beers may be paired with food, just like wines are, and some beers are aged for years in their bottle. Almost all Belgian beers are "conditioned" in the bottle not in kegs, so it will be different than if you go into a British pub to get a local beer on tap or if you visit one of the growing number of micro-breweries in the U.S.

Many of Belgium's beers are made in small quantities and don't travel well, so you'll just have to go to Belgium to try them.

You'll find all kinds of styles and all kinds of strengths, so be careful when you're drinking. There are....

Blanche or White Beers... sometimes called wheat beer.

Lambic beer... a non-malted wheat beer that is naturally fermented by airborne yeast. (This is made specifically in the Brussels area.)

Gueuze, Faro and Kreik beers are Lambic beers. They have a secondary fermentation that makes them sweet or fruity. Kriek is a refreshing cherry-flavored beer. Our Belgian friends told us we had to try the cherry beer while we were in Brussels.

Other different types include...

Brown Beers... more like what you would consider an ale.

Red Beers that are produced from red barley and aged in oak.

Golden beers or blond beers that are like Pilsner lagers.

There are Trappist beers which make famous dark ales and great blond beers. Abbey Beers which are similar but are not made in monasteries.

Six of Belgium's Trappist monasteries make beer. There are some twenty different beers brewed by those six monasteries. These breweries are not open to the public except on occasional "open door days" and then only with reservations, but you can sample them in local cafes and some abbey shops.

If you drive around to the Trappist monasteries to try their beer, you can try some cheeses too... Beer and cheese instead of wine and cheese.

Many of the Belgian beer breweries have tours or museums. Some require reservations, some have admission frees for the tours and tastings and some are free. Check with the Visit Belgium website for more information.

As you might expect with all these beer, there are beer festivals in many cities and towns the year round. In addition to trying a variety of beers, you can buy beer glasses, bottles, labels, and coasters (though you can snag coasters for free when you buy your beer). You can also buy old ads, clocks, mirrors, pints, jugs and other collector's items.

Not up for that kind of a festival? You'll find a number of Belgian beer museums, and there are also many Belgian beer tours.

Don't worry too much about all the differences; just revel in the fact that when you stop in a little cafe or pub, you'll have lots of great Belgian beers to choose from.

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This travel tip is brought to you by Stuart Hely of BookCentralCoast.com.au, the specialists in Gosford accommodation. Check us out for the best NSW Central Coast accommodation deals on Gosford accommodation, hotels, resorts, apartments and holiday houses.