Nestled in a western corner of Europe is a tiny country called Belgium. It’s about the size of Maryland with a population of 11 million people. It’s quaint. It’s pastoral. It’s agrarian. And it’s an absolute wonderland of brew. One of the best beer destinations on earth — without question.
Belgium’s beer styles run deep. There are the sour Lambics that settle in farmhouse attics, absorbing all the wild yeasts floating in the Pajottenland air. Then there are the ales — the strong ales, the Trappist ales, the darks ales, the IPAs, the gueuze… There are more. In fact, it can be a little intimidating wondering where the hell to even start.
It’s no wonder that Belgian beer is a necessary stop on any beer drinker’s road to beer geekdom. These are some the best beers made on earth. Decanting is important. Tasting them is important. And, yes, getting absolutely sloshed while doing obsessing over them is important too. It’s only beer, after all.
So we’ve compiled a small selection of Belgian beer styles to offer you an introduction to Belgium’s greatest export (sorry JCVD). Some are easier to find that others, but every single one is worth the journey.
BELGIAN PALE ALE — TARAS BOULBA
The Belgian pale ale is a more subtle version of the average pale ale you’ll find from America or England. The use of aged hops lowers the bitterness and gives the beer that subtle hoppiness that should have a sweet, toasty edge with yeasty dregs.
Brasserie de la Senne’s Taras Boulba is a crisp, amber-looking ale. Expect some florals and citrus with a slight hoppiness, balanced well with a sweet maltiness and yeast. This a very drinkable beer where one glass can lead to four or five while sitting in an old wooden-paneled Brussels cafe.