We’ve waxed poetic about the brilliance of Belgian beers before. The gentle rolling farmlands of Pajottenland are a must stop destination for any lover of lambics, ales, and gueuze. And Brussels offers nearly endless options to imbibe in some of the best beer the world has to offer.
Well, if you didn’t believe us before, UNESCO just made it official — naming Belgium’s beer culture ‘A Treasure Of Humanity.’ In case you haven’t been following, besides recognizing landmarks that need to be preserved, UNESCO also recognizes cultures from around the world that are wholly unique and easily identifiable to a particular nation. Germany’s knack for volunteering and Korea’s folk singing were also recently honored as treasures. Italy is pushing to get pizza on the list.
Pizza would go well with Belgian beer — a choice that UNESCO further supported by stating that “while the country drinks a wide variety of beer, it’s also famous for cooking with it — making everything from flavorful sauces to beer-washed cheese.”
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Lindemans Oude Gueuze Cuvée René Special Blend 2010. Winner of the International Revelation – Comac Trophy at this year's Brussels Beer Challenge. #lindemans #brewerylindemans #brouwerijlindemans #brusselsbeerchallenge #award #winner #comactrophy #internationalrevelation #lindemansoudegueuzecuvéeeenéspecialblend2010 #lindemansoudegueuzecuvéeeenéspecialblend #oudegueuze #gueuze #sourale #sourbeer #belgianbeer #craftbeer #beer #beertourism
When we heard the news, we asked our favorite beer sherpa and zythologist, Joe Stange over at Draft Magazine, to weigh in. He had a contrarian take:
An honor like this doesn’t accurately capture the debt that Belgian beer owes to the rest of the world. I’m not just talking about drinkers abroad, and the way that their thirst has helped to steer and preserve certain styles. Michael Jackson and American beer importers may have saved Saison Dupont, and thus modern saison as we know it today. Brewing ideas and traditions pay little attention to national borders.
By far the most popular type of beer in Belgium is pils. While the pintje is an essential part of understanding Belgian culture, let’s be honest: It’s become a vapid, adjunct-laden, quick-fermented bastardization of the stuff from Bavaria and Bohemia that once inspired it. Hey: Even the monks who brewed what became Belgium’s most famous beers, the Trappists, originally came from France.
Joe suggests that while Belgian beer is certainly some of the most iconic in the world, maybe a better commendation could have been European Beer culture as a whole… That all being said, we still feel like Belgian beer is an absolute treasure, so we made a list with some of our favorites.
Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic
Great, funky beer that will introduce you to the Gueuze style at a manageable ABV of five percent.
Rodenbach Caractère Rouge
This Flanders Red Ale macerates with cherries, raspberries, and cranberries before a second fermentation bringing a sweet and sour edge to the ale.
Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend
This blend is ‘golden’ since it combines one, two, three, and four year Lambics into a single bottle.
Cantillon Lou Pepe – Kriek
Often rated amongst Belgium’s best Lambics, this red, sour cherry, and funk-filled beer will not disappoint.
Trappist Westvleteren 8 (VIII)
Trappist monks make great beer and that’s why they get two spots on the list. This rye-forward beer is the perfect example of a Belgian ale.
A true Farmhouse Ale that gives you a sense of caramel, strawberry, and spiciness making it the best introduction to the style.
Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)
Beer geeks often rate this the mountaintop of Belgian beer. This hazy brown quadruple ale has notes of bread, brown sugar, dried fruit, and a deep funk edge.
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Holy beer. Delighted to be back at La Trappe, a Trappist brewery in Holland. I really rate their beers and the food in their restaurant is also delicious! You're looking at their Quadruple beer here, a strong brew with sweet caramel notes. The unique thing is having it on draft here prior to the second fermentation. The flavours aren't as strong but it's a fascinating preview of what the beer will become. I lined the light up behind it with a low angle as a beer halo. #beer #trappist #latrappe Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and XF 35mm f2.