A work trip to Brussels allowed us to “do” a few highlights of Belgium in a weekend – Brussels, Bruges, and Ghent.
Any good tour of Belgium begins, ends, and has several middle chapters of beer in a pub. Belgium has about 120 different varieties of beer and 580 different brands (may be more). The neatest part about going to a proper Belgian pub is the decor. Each pub seems to carry its own style. From a stage for marionette performers to hidden gems with just a few tables and chairs, each pub you walk in to is distinct. One of the best features about drinking a proper Belgian beer is that it will be served in a glass that was specifically selected by the brew master. If the pub doesn’t have the glass, it will come to you in the bottle. They take this endeavor seriously. So, we did too.
We tasted a lot of beer and we’re doing our best to honor here those monks who so long ago commanded the barley and yeast and water and made them dance in a glass. Often times, even the smallest cafe will have a beer list 6 or 8 deep, of only Belgians.
We tasted as many beers as we could – outdoors and indoors – in Bruges, in Ghent, in Brussels, on trains, before planes, at noon, and late at night. Here’s our completely subjective ranking of our favorites. We hope you’ll try them.
Top Five (plus 1) Belgian Beers
- Bourgogne des Flandres – brown in color, lightly sour noise, some effervescence
- Mort Subite Lambic Blanc – light in color, hazy pour, vanilla and some peach notes
- Abbaye Val Dieu Tripel – dark brown in color, some sourness to begin but smooth finish
- Mort Subite Gueuze – light in color, some haziness, light grape notes, some other fruit
- Traippistes Rochefort (10) – dark brown, super strong alcohol (10 = 10%) but otherwise accessible
- Corsendonk Christmas – dark brown strong ale, some marshmallow, light spices
Honorable mention doesn’t mean much here because the remainder are all still REALLY good. They just did not meet the standards we thought the 6 above set.
The Remainder (also awesome) (in alpha order)
- Augustijn Blonde
- Augustijn Grand Cru
- Belle Vue Kriek
- Bruges Zot
- Corsendonk Bruin
- De Garre
- Delirium Nocturnum
- Gentse Tripel
- Leffe Bruin
- Mort Subite Kriek
- Paix Dieu
- Steen Bruges Blonde
- St. Feuillien
- Tongerlo Bruin
- Tongerlo Blonde
- Tripel Karmeliet
- Westmalle Tripel
Whichever one works for you, enjoy it.
Then order another round.