In his monthly column Alex Greig of the Fuggles bars and bottle shop picks his top Belgian brews for you to try…
Belgian Beer Weekend has recently taken place in Brussels. It’s a weekend-long celebration of the wonderful world of Belgian beer. Held in Grand Place, the event features over 500 beers from 50 brewers over the weekend.
I fell in love with Belgian Beer over 10 years ago while I was on a trip around Europe. Not only does Belgium produce some of the most unique styles of beer around, it also has a unique flavour profile across so many of its beers. Add to this a little dash of intrigue and mystery behind some of the country’s breweries and it’s easy to understand why so many people love Belgian beer!
I recently featured some of my favourite Trappist breweries, so this month I’m focusing on some of my favourite Belgian breweries that don’t have monks at the helm but are still a staple in our fridges:
De Halve Maan – Bruges
De Halve Maan is now the only brewery located within the historic city walls of Bruges. Producing several beers, including Straffe Hendrick, Blanche de Bruges and of course, the famous Brugse Zot. But the Brugse Zot Blond is my pick of the bunch. It’s got a wonderful fruitiness to it, with pear and apricot coming through, balanced out by the characteristic spicy notes that are typical of the classic Belgian styles.
If you’re ever in Bruges, I highly recommend visiting the brewery itself, where you can try this beer in its unfiltered version – it’s delicious!
Brasserie De La Senne – Brussels
I’m a long-time fan of this ‘modern’ Belgian brewery. They produce some really excellent beers and modern takes on Belgian classics. Taras Boulba is a brilliant, citrus-forward Belgian pale, and Zinnebir is their take on the traditional Belgian blonde. Smoother and fruitier than the classics such as Zot or Duvel, but with lovely bitterness and balance
However, the beer that got me hooked on Yvan de Baets beers was ‘Jambe de Bois’ – a truly delicious beer in the Tripel style. It’s got a wonderful drinkability for the 8% abv, with notes of ripe banana, apricot and pear rounded off with a refreshing bitterness.
Brouwerij Huyghe – Melle
Located a short drive out of Ghent is one brewery that will be familiar to all fans of Belgian beers, mainly because they brew one of the most famous Belgian brews of all – the legendary Delirium Tremens!
This beer, with its pronounced notes of pear drops and a slightly spicy, dry finish, is an all-time classic.
The brewery also produces another (and in my opinion, superior) Blonde beer – Averbode. The original recipe from the Averbode Abbey was rebrewed by Huyghe several years ago and it was an instant crowd pleaser, with a zingy citrus note on top of some lovely biscuity notes from the malt and of course – that classic Belgian spicy twang!
The Musketeers – Sint-Gillis-Waas
Located just outside Antwerp, The Musketeers are best known for their Troubador range of beers. One of the more modern producers of Belgian beer, they produce a great array of styles, from the classic Blonde, through to their Magma – a big and bold Triple IPA alongside lots of modern, hop-forward IPAs.
My pick of the bunch is their Black IPA – ‘Westkust’. It’s dark, big and bold, with notes of chocolate and coffee alongside a long bitter finish with plenty of citrus flavour coming through.