Life

Craft Beer Experts Shout Out The Most Underrated Belgian Beers

While craft brewers have taken the mantle admirably and certainly shown their own prowess over the past few decades, few US breweries have anywhere near the history of their European counterparts. This is especially true when it comes to Belgian beer. While Allagash might make a Belgian-style wheat beer with its iconic Allagash White, it still can’t beat the real thing.

A lack of popularity amidst the US boom means there are a ton of classic Belgian beers that are underrated, under-appreciated, and undervalued by today’s casual drinkers. Luckily, our favorite craft beer experts are here to help. We asked them to tell us their picks for the most underrated Belgian beers. They gave us a slew of great answers and more than a few to add to our list.

St. Bernardus Abt. 12

St. Bernardus Abt. 12
St. Bernardus

Eric Warner, brewmaster at Karbach Brewing in Houston

ABV: 10.5%
Average Price: $18.99 for a four-pack

Why This Beer?

A lot of folks still go crazy for Westy 12 and for good reason: it’s incredible. However, I’d put St. Bernardus Abt. 12 up there any day of the week. This quad pours beautifully into the glass with a generous head that bottle-conditioned beers are known for. Flavors of burnt candy sugar, raisin, and plum lead to a delightfully dry finish that leaves you ready for another sip.

Bonus points are that it is much easier to find and much more affordable.

La Senne Taras Boulba

La Senne Taras Boulba
La Senne

Keston Helfrich, founder and head brewer of Carolina Bauernhaus Brewery & Winery in Anderson, South Carolina

ABV: 4.5%
Average Price: $4.50 for a 12-ounce bottle

Why This Beer?

Is there such a thing as an underrated Belgian anymore? If I have to pick one, I’d go with Taras Boulba. I’m a huge fan of crisp, bitter beers and this one just hits it out of the park for me. It’s a light-bodied ale with a strong bitterness that I really enjoy.

Duvel

Duvel
Duvel

Andy Innes, lead brewer at Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. Ltd. In Victoria, British Columbia

ABV: 8.5%
Average Price: $16.50 for a four-pack

Why This Beer?

I would say Duvel. I think it’s underrated even though it’s so widely available. And the aesthetic hasn’t changed since I started drinking it. But it’s a cool brewing process, a difficult-to-nail style, and it epitomizes the category. Candied citrus and phenolic spices, big fermentation character.

An amazing yeast-driven beer that gives you lots to think about and enjoy every time.

Orval

Orval
Orval

Sean Towers, owner and brewer at The Seed: A Living Beer Project in Atlantic City

ABV: 6.9%
Average Price: $6.50 for a 12-ounce bottle

Why This Beer?

The most underrated Belgian beer will forever and always be Orval. Within a specific sect of the brewing community, this statement is not true, because many of our peers hold Orval in very high regard. On the other hand, I think for most beer drinkers, Orval is still criminally underrated. A kiss of brettanomyces, a vastly different experience depending on age, storage conditions, etc., and a clean and clear showcase of yeast and hops makes Orval a fun and ever-changing ride that you can enjoy in perpetuity.

I feel like Orval can appeal to the casual drinker looking for a somewhat “classic old-world character” and can also appease the nitpicker looking to dive deeper into nuanced flavor complexities. Orval always comes across as underrated, in my opinion, because there is no flashy trade/secondary market for it, and it does not carry any bold “new world” flavor edges (high acid, fruit, candy, cookies, lactose, etc.). Just another gem that is hidden to some within the vastness of the oft-overlooked world of good simple beer.

Westvleteren 6

Westvleteren 6
Westvleteren

Douglas Constantiner, founder and CEO of Societe Brewing in San Diego

ABV: 6.2%
Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Trappist Westvleteren 6 (Green cap) is my pick. Often Westie 12 is the shining star of this monastery’s brewery, and the blonde gets overlooked. The flavors this beer achieves with a low ABV makes it enjoyable yet it’s complex enough to remain interesting.

Dupont Foret Organic Saison

Dupont Foret Organic Saison
Dupont

Douglas Hasker, head brewer at Puesto Cerveceria in San Diego

ABV: 7.5%
Average Price: $12.99 for a 750ml bottle

Why This Beer?

Dupont Foret Organic Saison is extremely underrated. It’s another beer overshadowed by a bigger name relative, this version of Saison Dupont is a bit stronger and utilizes a different yeast strain to give it a unique character that will surprise long time Dupont fans.

Hoegaarden

Hoegaarden
Hoegaarden

Alex Wenner, owner of Lasting Joy Brewery in Tivoli, New York

ABV: 4.9%
Average Price: $8.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

In this case, I’ll say that underrated means “often seen and often overlooked.” Hoegaarden is prolific and easy to get, and the perfect Belgian Wit. Cloudy wheat ale with the right mix of spice and citrus.

Very crisp, supremely drinkable.

Boon Oude Geuze

Boon Oude Geuze
Boon

Marshall Hendrickson, co-founder and head of operations at Veza Sur Brewing in Miami

ABV: 7%
Average Price: $7.99 for a 375ml bottle

Why This Beer?

Boon Geuze: This is a classic lambic-style beer that is full of those bizarre farmhouse flavors, but somehow finishes tart and refreshing. It’s an incredibly dynamic beer with so much going on, and a great intro into farmhouse ales. Surprisingly underrated.

Val-Dieu Grand Cru

Val-Dieu Grand Cru
Val-Dieu

Jesse Mix, regional manager of beer and soft drinks at Sprecher Brewing Company in Glendale, Wisconsin

ABV: 10.5%
Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Val-Dieu Grand Cru is a beautiful Belgian Quad. Dark roasted malts with hints of raisin, prune, caramel and toffee give this beer a very deep and complex flavor. It should be more well-known, but I’m kind of glad it isn’t.

Chimay Cinq Cents

Chimay Cinq Cents
Chimay

Ryan Pachmayer, head brewer at Yak & Yeti Brewpub and Restaurant in Arvada, Colorado

ABV: 10%
Average Price: $11.99 for a 750ml bottle

Why This Beer?

Chimay Cinq Cents. Westmalle Tripel gets all the attention, and fairly so, but it ends up overshadowing the Chimay version. I’ve been guilty of passing up Cinq Cents in the past, but every time I go back to it, it reminds me that it’s every bit as good as the Westmalle version. They’re different tripels, the Chimay is softer, with more light, smooth fruit than the more pepper forward version from Westmalle.

Blaugies Saison D’ Epeautre

Blaugies Saison D’ Epeautre
Blaugies

Sam Tierney, brewing manager at Firestone Walker – The Propagator in Venice, California

ABV: 6%
Average Price: $12.99 for a 750ml bottle

Why This Beer?

Saison D’Epeautre from Brasserie de Blaugies is one of my favorite saisons and is just a perfect example of the style: dry, effervescent, hoppy, and with a balanced spicy/fruity profile. It flies a little under the radar in the US and can be hard to find but is always worth it when you do. Their house yeast strain is very popular with American brewers these days so you can taste a lot of the DNA of modern saison in this beer and see what the style should be when properly done.

Brouwerij Kerkom Hop Verdomme

Brouwerij Kerkom Hop Verdomme
Brouwerij Kerkom

Rob Day, director of marketing for Jack’s Abby Craft Ales in Framingham, Massachusetts

ABV: 7%
Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

I’ve got a deep cut here, Hop Verdomme from Brouwerij Kerkom. This beer has a real taste of place to it and straddles the line between IPA and saison in terms of the flavor profile. I don’t think there’s been enough attention on this brewery that is making awesome beers in the countryside of Belgium.

×