The history of beer brewing in Belgium dates back centuries and is famous around the world for being one of the leading brewing countries. Official estimates suggest that there are currently more than 700 beers in production in the small country, and the rarest and most precious ones receive the same reverence as fine wine. With so many options, the menus can be confusing, but these 20 best Belgian beers will delight your taste buds. A Walloon specialty, the Belgian brewery behind Bush claims that the original version is, with 12%, the strongest beer in Belgium.
It tastes more like barley wine and has a beautiful golden color and an earthy scent. Bush at 7.5% is a delicious pale beer with a touch of coriander. This popular spicy amber beer is the star product of the Huyghe brewery in Ghent. There are even craft beer bars owned by Delirium all over Europe, in cities like Brussels, Lisbon and Amsterdam.
The Brussels branch has more than 3000 beers to try from all over the world. Another type of Belgian beer, rather than an individual beer, gueuze is made by mixing old and new lambica to promote re-fermentation, and the end result is bottled. This process makes the gueuze a little sweeter and more full-bodied than the classic lambic. Traditional gueuze can be difficult to locate and you may have to settle for sweeter, more commercial brands, especially Belle Vue Gueuze (5.2%), Timmermans Gueuze (5.5%) and the exemplary Lindemans Gueuze (5.2%).
The Independent's journalism has the support of our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn commissions. There are also the complex and clearly acidic lambic beers, which ferment spontaneously with wild yeasts (such as beer's equivalent to sourdough bread) and that are only made in Brussels and Pajottenland, a region south of the capital. The Liefmans Brewery is known for its wonderfully complex, tart and toasted lambic beers, so this ruby-hued cherry beer is something of a starting point.
However, it is very delicious. Kriek brut is a blend of beers from different vintages that has matured in Belgian cherries for up to two years. The flavor is as rich and rounded as the color suggests, but it deflects the cloying sweetness of some fruit beers. Instead, it's a wonderfully balanced dance through complementary flavors, from sour, slightly smoky maraschino cherries to a marzipan rustle.
A special, soft and velvety beer and, in our opinion, a bargain for its price. This blond Trappist beer, brewed in a monastery outside Antwerp, achieves an impressive balance between warmth and freshness. It's rich, with malty and cookie flavors that fill your mouth, but refreshing, with citrus notes that spread like lemon-infused caramel. We discovered that it tasted a bit like banoffee cake, especially because of its creamy and velvety texture, although again it is spicier and the more herbivorous aromas, from coriander and cloves to grapefruit, prevent it from getting close to cloying.
Delicious paired with food, from a plate of fish pie to a cheese board, and casual enough to drink alone. This bold beer from the Ardennes region is perfect for a blond beer, which seems to be a bit typical of Belgian beers. However, while La Chouffe, whose yellow cans and labels show a red-nosed gnome, has plenty of alcohol and flavor, it also calms thirst and is refreshing. The beer is infused with coriander during the brewing process, resulting in a lively, spicy, and bright flavor.
Its herbaceous notes and a touch similar to a grapefruit stuck with cloves are reminiscent of German wheat beers. This has a big impact because of the price. This beer, an improvement over the classic Duvel blonde beer, which in itself is a fairly solid bet, uses citrus aromatic hops and a dry whipping process that brings them to the forefront. They are certainly noticeable and bring notes of grapefruit, lemon and pineapple to the party.
But there's a lot more to this. Beer gets more complex as you drink it, merging merrily with lemon and caramel, transitioning to unexpected notes of coffee and roasted nuts. It comes complete with honey, covering the mouth and softening what might otherwise be too much citrus hops for some. Finding a Belgian beer with an alcohol content of less than 5% is no easy task, and finding one as blissfully harmonious as Heverlee is practically a miracle.
Named after an abbey in Leuven and produced in Belgium for Scottish brewery Tennent Caledonian, this pilsner isn't as complex as many of the country's other beers. However, its faint, slightly floral hop flavor, citrus notes, and soft mousse (unlike the fizzy feel of some lagers) make it refreshing while remaining tasteless. Its pale honey tone is also reflected in a subtle sweetness of the flavor. Great as a starter beer, or for when the strongest beers seem too much.
We found this to be a bit of a cultivator. It's almost worth buying just for the bottle, which has a beautiful curve and features a trout with a wedding ring, a reference to the legend of Matilda de Canossa. The content is also very special. Brewed in a monastery in the Gaume region since 1931, the beer has a beautiful bronze color with aromas of walnut caramel enhanced by fresh floral nuances.
So you know it's going to be unusual even before you drink it. Our first impression was of a funky bitterness soon joined by the citrus peel, before softening into softer, sweeter malty notes and ending with a crisp, dry zipper. It's fascinating and could divide opinions, although we loved it. The name “Brugse zot” comes from the inhabitants of the town, or “crazy people from Bruges”, who imprisoned their king in the 13th century and were punished with a ban on festivities.
It is a cheeky reference from the family brewery based in Bruges, De Halve Maan, and one that adapts to this casual beer, in whose bottle a jester appears. It is a well-balanced blonde with just a touch of bitterness and attractive aromas of brittle peanuts, candied skin, apricots and honeysuckle. A rich, slightly honeyed mouthfeel is balanced with hints of cloves and coriander, while hops provide ripe banana and plum flavors. The sturdy, lively bubbles keep you on the right side of freshness.
Weak beer doesn't really exist in Belgium, neither in quality nor in alcohol content. If that means the variety of beers can be a bit overwhelming, it also means that there's practically something for everyone. Because of its great complexity, its quality-price ratio and its balance between sweet and bitter, rich and refreshing, we have chosen Kriek Brut from Liefmans as the best. Traditionalists may prefer the Westmalle Trappist tripe, in our opinion one of the best beers brewed in monasteries, while the duvel tripel hop citra is a stellar example of a similar style with a lower price.
Are you taking a break from the hard stuff but don't want to lose the flavor? Read our review of the 14 best non-alcoholic beers to compete with the real ones. Craft beer has taken over the pub scene in recent years, with beers from the US. UU. and the United Kingdom, which compete with more established brands from all over Europe.
The beer is allowed to “melt” for another period of time before the remaining pulp is removed from the cherry, strained and bottled and placed in barrels. Brewed since 1931 in the Notre-Dame d'Orval Abbey, beer has come to embody not only the Trappist beer traditions, but also the general quality and dedication to craftsmanship that accompanies Belgian beers. The beer was one of the first “frozen glass” beers produced by Urbain and his team, using Cuvee Delphine as a base and distilling it on ice until it reached an astonishing 26% alcohol. All Van Steenberge beers have very distinctive flavors and other excellent beers include Piraat, Augustijn, Bornem beers, Monk's Cafe, Garre Tripel and many others.
This is another beer that is very difficult to find and may not be to everyone's liking; but I loved this beer, but I use the term “beer” lightly, since it's closer to wine than to beer. Since I have had the pleasure of traveling several times around Belgium, my favorite beer or beers are not something I can easily choose, but I will try to offer what I think are the best deals in Belgium. Duvel is one of my top favorite beers, and I've told people that this is my real “lawnmower” beer. In an effort not to fill the list with too many beers from one brewery, I will only list my two favorite beers from each brewery.
Once again, a type of beer rather than a particular beer, Kriek is made from a base beer to which cherries are added or, in the case of more commercial brands, cherry juice and perhaps even sugar. Both abbey beers and monastery breweries contribute to the rich heritage and diversity of Belgian beer culture. When the beer has aged properly, the temperature decreases until the beer (and all residual waste) freezes in the neck of the bottle. Known as the beer with the gnome on the label, this bright, drunken beer is surprisingly drinkable, despite its higher alcohol content.
Specific to the Brussels area and representing one of the oldest brewing styles in the world, Lambic beers are acidic because they are made with at least thirty percent of raw wheat, as well as with the most common malted barley. This magnificent beer has many of the characteristics of the Westvleteren 12, but it's not that complex, but it's still a world-class beer. .