Dr Headgear is an expert of many of the things I like in life, cycling, football and beer…
He is also a prominent poster on the BikeRadar forum and takes the honour of being the first guest to share his Belgian beer list with us as part of Beers of Belgium CC.
I tried to cover the main styles, though obviously there’s loads more out there.
Six Belgian beers that are at least worth trying!
Belgium is famed for its brewing, so here are six beers that represent my favourites in their various styles
Duvel – 8.5%
While many Belgian blondes can verge on being cloyingly sweet Duvel is remarkably crisp and refreshing. It’s a little more powerful than most, which tend to be in the 6-7% range, and doesn’t include the occasionally overpowering spices that other blondes sometimes have.
Chimay Blue – 9%
The classic Chimay, deep flavours, sweet and spicy. The caramel flavours aren’t as full on as some dubbels, making this a little easier to drink and more rewarding on the palate.
Rodenbach Grand Cru – 6%
Flanders Red ales are aged in oak barrels that produce a deep rich “balsamic” sour beer. Duchess de Bourgogne is the other leader in this style, a sweeter and slightly less oaky flavour than the Rodenbach.
Giradin 1882 (Black Label) – 5%
Gueuzes are produced by blending traditional lambics – sour beers brewed with spontaneous fermentation, the yeast is the local wind-born strain, not added to the brew. Young and aged lambics are mixed in the bottle, where secondary fermentation occurs. Gueuzes are very, very dry and sour, the typical reaction n first tasting one is pretty much “baby eating lemon for first time video”. The beers are often described as “funky” or having a “farmyard / horse-blanket” flavour. Giradin 1882 Black Label is a good introduction to gueuze, slightly less demanding than those from other great brewers such as Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen.
Cantillon Kriek Lambic – 5%
Krieks are produced by letting lambic ales sit on dark bitter cherries. While there are numerous sweet industrial krieks (produced by adding cherry syrup), traditional krieks are dry and sour, with deep fruit flavours. This is the king of them.
Westmalle Tripel – 9.5%
Sweet and rich and yet hoppy and with some bitterness, Westmalle Tripel is possibly the best balanced of all the strong blondes labeled as tripel. Marvelously complex.
I have to agree with the inclusion of Westmalle Tripel on this list. If you are new to Belgian beer and want to go in at the deep end then that is a great place to start.