There are countless tastes of Belgian beer to experience, from countless local breweries. However most do conform to an existing popular beligan beer style, each of which has its own unique history to its creation and evolution of taste. Enter the world of Belgian beer with us as we give you a run down of some of the most popular Belgian beer styles and history behind them…
One of the oldest beer styles Lambic is rooted in Belgian tradition and history. With its own unique techniques of brewing this beer is not one for convention. The malt mixture of each batch must consist of at least 30% wheat to be classed as a traditional Lambic beer. Along with this an increase in hops helps the beers to be preserved for longer than many others. Traditionally the beer is only brewed throughout the winter months and once sealed in its wooden barrel it will sit for years before being poured.
Owed to spontaneous fermentation, Lambics traditionally are barely carbonated. Offering a more earthy, sour taste that will vary between bottles that can be attributed to its fermentation process. Fruit Lambics are also available for those looking for a sweeter note.
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Originating from the Monasteries, there are strict rules that govern who can produce Abbey beer. The brewery in question must have the permission of an active abbey that has a history in brewing traditional Belgian beers. Now only a handful of breweries across the world are permitted to produce Abbey Beers.
The Abbey Beer title covers a variation of beer styles, these include those such as Tripel and Dubbel. Tripel is a strong ale with a deep colour, offering notes of sweetness and malts in each beer. Dubbel, unlike Tripel, is a much darker beer in colour. Producing a flavour that includes notes of caramel with a hint of fruitiness.
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Belgian Fruit Beer, most commonly known as Kriek Beer is traditionally made with sour cherries which both add taste to the beer and promote fermentation. Typically, these beers are now made from adding varying forms of fruit juice to either a white or pilsner beer. Expanding on the variety of flavour combinations over the years to appeal to a wider demographic.
As expected, these beers are fruity in taste and typically quite sweet with an underlying taste of the original beer it was brewed with. Increasing variations of flavours mean that you can now find any flavour to suit your taste rather than just cherry!
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Another traditional Belgian beer with a unique brewing strategy, Oud Bruin is a mixture of two beers, one brewed and left to ferment for years at a time, to then be blended with a much younger beer to be mixed before having additional sugars and yeast added to bond them. After which the beer is then bottled and ready to drink.
Traditionally you can expect a Bruin beer to offer you hints of nuts and dark caramel along with some sweeter notes mixed in. The mixture of an older and newer beer refreshes its taste and although this mixture can mean it varies in taste, you will always get a similar deep colour caramel and chocolate flavour beer out of it.
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Not completely attributable to Belgium, Pilsner beer is the most popular beer style across the world, so it’s no surprise that Belgian breweries picked up on it too. Originally being named in Czech, Pils beers were first introduced to the world within the 19th century.
Its distinctive and widely loved taste is largely determined by its yeast and fermentation period. Traditionally offering a more bitter taste, you can also pick up some more sweeter flavoured pilsners if you desire.
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As the name suggests, Belgians Strong Blond Beers are light in colour, owing its colouring to the pale malts used during its fermentation. These beers are complex to create due to their specific combination of hops. Not quite as historical as some of the others on our list, but still great.
Blond Beers are typically strong in taste, with notes of hops and yeast that cut through the malt as you are drinking. Despite their strong taste, they are widely considered easily drinkable beers and often offer fruity and aromatic notes to their flavour. A hint of spice can usually also be found just below the fruitier flavours of the beer.
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The addition of orange zest and herbs owes to its fresh, clean taste. This beer is unfiltered and has a higher wheat content than most other beers. This beer dates back in history, a significant part of the brewing industry before the 20th century, nearly disappearing completely in the 50’s to later be revived years on by Hoegaarden.
Traditionally Wheat Beer is light in colour and has a cloudy appearance, yet refreshing to drink. Once bottled the beer will ferment agan, adding more depth to its slightly sour taste. Overall the beer can be expected to be mild in flavour, with citrus notes along with other fruits.
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