But in Belgian styles it's much more important than in any other beer, because Belgians don't like hops very much. They find other ways to create scents. They use old, rusty herbs, fruits, and hops that smell like carpet. But most of all, they use beautiful yeasts, all of them with their own distinctive smell and taste, and all unique to Belgium.
And that means it's in high demand. However, several traditional beer styles were preserved, such as white beer, lambica, and old Flemish brown beer, while new local high-fermentation styles were developed, such as spéciale belge, abbey beer, and strong Belgian beer. Table beer used to be served in school canteens until the 1980s; at the beginning of the 21st century, several organizations submitted proposals to reestablish this custom, since table beer is considered healthier than soft drinks. They are the magnates of barrel aging, and they put many of their beers in wooden barrels to be aged with fruit; they show the world that 9% beer should not be drunk from a can and a brown paper bag, but from a chalice to be drunk slowly in the sun.
In fact, as beer increasingly becomes an art around the world, people are realizing that yeast is just as important as any other ingredient in beer. Traditional Belgian beers, such as Echt Kriekenbier, Westmalle Tripel and Hoegaarden, are perfect examples of beer with live cultures and probiotics. But why is Belgian beer so good? After doing some research, it seems that everyone loves Belgian beer for one reason or another. You'll find beers corked and wired like a champagne bottle, and some beers mature in the bottle for up to six years.
The Abbey beer logo and quality label are no longer used on beers that bear the name of a fictitious abbey, a vaguely monastic brand, or the name of a saint without mentioning a specific monastery. In North America, an increasing number of Belgian draft beer brands have started to be available, often in Belgian bars. Although many of the major beer brands are available in most supermarkets, unlicensed stores located across the country tend to offer a much wider selection, albeit at slightly higher prices. Some breweries that are not Lambic brewers produce fruit beers following a process similar to that of Fruit Lambic beers.
After the introduction of the official name of Trappist beer by the International Trappist Association in 1997, products similar in style or presentation to monastic beers were renamed. Belgian beer is so good because of its taste, because of the craftsmanship behind it (think, hundreds of years of knowledge of the Trappist monks combined with modern technology) and because of the fact that most Belgian beers are fermented twice. Some brewers have returned to their medieval roots and flavored their beer with a secret blend of spices called gruit. Many describe the taste of a Belgian beer as floral, sweeter and much less harsh than that of other traditional beers that are considered bitter.
Typified by Rodenbach, the eponymous brand that created this type more than a century ago, the distinctive characteristics of this beer from a technical point of view are a specially roasted malt, fermentation through a mixture of several “common” highly fermented yeasts and a culture of lactobacilli (the same type of bacteria with which yogurt is made) and maturation in oak.