The next step on our path to highlight the wonders of Belgian beer takes us outside of Belgium. This may seem counter-intuitive to many. “How can you make Belgian beer outside of that country?” you may ask. Well, beer styles aren’t appellations (for the most part). That’s why we can still make a Pilsner outside of the Czech Republic or a Munich Dunkel outside of Bavaria. The recipes, practices, and art of brewing have transcended generations and borders.
This is a list of the best Belgian beers made by brewers in North America. The Belgian styles that we know and love are represented here by brewers who adore those same beers and wanted to create their own riffs and interpretations. Some of them will be pretty easy to find across America. Some of them you’ll have to dig around for. Happy beer hunting!
A LITTLE SUMPIN’ WILD — BELGIAN IPA
The Belgian IPA is a hop-forward beer that combines American hops with Belgian yeasts to create a funkier version of the IPA we all know and love.
Lagunitas Brewing Company’s A Little Sumpin’ Wild hits all the hallmarks of the great Belgian IPA. The ABV of 8.8 percent gives this beer a hefty kick. Expect a strong citrus and mango taste in the hops. The yeasts give it a crisp and dry finish.
GAME OF THRONES: BEND THE KNEE — BELGIAN STRONG PALE ALE
This Belgian style is all about the ABVs and big flavors that are meant to tantalize and satisfy.
Brewery Ommegang’s celebration of the upcoming season of Game Of Thrones is another masterclass in Belgian beer in a bottle. The nine percent ABV delivers an extremely complex beer. Get ready for stone fruits, clove, peppercorn, and allspice spiciness, berries, lemon, and a toasty maltiness.You’ll also get the dryness at the back end.
ALLAGASH ODYSSEY — BELGIAN STRONG DARK ALE
The Belgian Strong Dark Ale is a deeply roasted malt take on the yellow-hued variation above. These beers are about complexity, dark malts, and light touches of hops.
Allagash Brewing Company’s Allagash Odyssey uses a combination of roasted barleys and malted wheats along with Belgian candi sugars. The beer is aged for up to ten months in oak and stainless steel giving the dark ale a smooth taste. That aging also amps up the treacle, vanilla, raisin, and toast notes in the beer and leaves it with a creamy maltiness on the finish.
LA FIN DU MONDE — TRIPEL
The Belgian Triple is a Trappist ale that uses three times the malt of a standard Trappist Simple. That tripling of malts enhances the flavor of the beer by deepening the yeasty phenols and malty aromas accordingly.
Unibroue’s flagship La Fin du Monde (the end of the world) is a powerhouse Belgian Tripel. This golden-hued nine percent ABV ale has a distinct character that doesn’t overwhelm, making it a great entry point to the style. There’s a subtle mix of pear, apple, cloves, and coriander with a malty sweetness — a lot like tasting a scone. The finish is a crisp dryness that comes from a proprietary Belgian yeast strain unique to Unibroue.
ABRIKOOS — LAMBIC (FRUIT)
Fruit Lambics are those wonderfully tart wheat malted beers that eschew heavy maltiness and hoppiness for a balance of subtly sweet fruitiness and sour funk. This is achieved by adding fresh fruit to the tanks after the spontaneous fermentation has begun.
pFriem Family Brewers’ Abrikoos uses local stone-fruit that gives this beer an acidic, slightly sweet, nutty, and tangy flavor profile. The 5.4 percent ABV makes it very drinkable and perfect for a hot summer day when a little sour fruit offers the perfect relief to the blazing sun. It’s crisp, funky, fruity, and fun.
1060 WIT — BELGIAN WITBIER
This Belgian wheat beer is an unfiltered delight that revels in coriander, orange zest, and a malty but crisp finish.
Goose Island Beer Co.’s 1060 Wit is really only available at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. So, if you’re not in Chicago, you’re going to have to take a road trip this summer if you want to try this one. This Witbier hits all the standard notes wonderfully. It’s got a strong orange peel forward tastes that are accented by coriander spice and smooth wheat maltiness. It’s the perfect beer for watching a baseball game on a sunny day.
BROOKLYN SORACHI ACE — SAISON/FARMHOUSE ALE
Belgian Saisons are a complex beer often brewed in the winter season out behind the old farmhouse. They’re often a little spicy, malty, fruity, and always refreshing.
Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace is a global representation of the beer world. It’s a blend of Japanese hops, German malts, and Belgian yeasts all brewed in America. This saison uses Japanese Sorachi hops to amp up the lemon zest tartness to the beer. The German malts and Belgian yeast give the beer a crisp, peppery, dry finish. This one is like sunshine in a glass.
THE DISSIDENT — FLANDERS OUD BRUIN
This old brown beer from Flanders is actually a pretty wide category. They range from sour to sweet and malty. They can be fruity or hoppy depending on the aging process and ingredients involved.
Deschutes Brewery’s The Dissident leans hard into the fruity aspects of the style. Belgian candi sugar helps activate the cherries, giving this beer a mild sweetness and solid tartness. A tannic, woody element is added through barrel-aging in old Pinot Noir wine barrels, which helps to mellow and highlight the cherries.
LIFE ON BIÉRE DE MARS — BIÈRE DE GARDE
This style lends itself to toasted malts, light hops, subtle fruits, and dry yeasts, adding a slight sweetness underpinning everything.
Oxbow Brewing Company’s Life On Biére De Mars continues the brewery’s celebration of all things David Bowie with a quality beer. They’ve added a smokey element to the style and blend theirs with a farmhouse ale to add extra layers of complexity in the toasted maltiness and slight hoppiness. This gives the beer a freshness and hints at funky fruitiness.
DUCK DUCK GOOZE — GUEUZE
Gueuze is the blending of old and young lambics which are then aged for at least two additional years. This amps up the sour, fruit, and dryness of the beer. A well-aged Gueuze is often considered the mountaintop of great beers.
The Lost Abbey’s Duck Duck Gooze is very hard to find. They only release a small batch of bottles every three years. The gueuze has a strong, almost white wine acidity paired with a lemongrass, barnyard straw funk, and woody oak flavor. It’s floral, herbal, sour, sweet, and as funky as any self-respecting gueuze ought to be.