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Beer FAQs

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How many varieties of Belgian Beer are there?

In Belgium, beer is more than just a frothy beverage – it is a culture. With over 450 different varieties, many Belgian beers have personalized beer glasses in which only that beer may be served. The shape of each glass enhances the flavor of the beer for which it is designed. This tradition may seem like behavior reserved for wine snobbery, but Belgians take their beer seriously – and with good reason. The country has enjoyed an unparalleled reputation for specialty beers since the Middle Ages. Connoisseurs favor Belgian beers for their variety, real flavor and character.

Why is a beer called “Trappist”?

A beer may be called “Trappist” only if it is a manufactured by Cistercian monks. The Cistercian monasteries are divided into two great orders, of which one is historically attached to the Abbey of La Grande Trappe,  in Normandy, hence the name “Trappists”.
The Trappist beers adhere to 3 strict conditions:
  • the beer must be brewed within a Trappist Abbey
  • the beer must be brewed under the supervision and responsibility of the monks
  • the majority of the revenue must be dedicated to charitable work
 All Trappists are strong ales with a re-fermentation in the bottle. Blond or brown, 6% to 12% alcohol, they do not properly constitute a unique beer “type”. A Trappist beer deserves to be consumed slowly. Because it is refermented in the bottle, there usually remains a yeast deposit at the bottom. When pouring a Trappist, always fill the glass in one continuous movement, without pouring the sediment. Many people will drink it separately afterwards. The “Trappist” denomination is protected by the Trade Mark “Authentic Trappist Product”. Other beers in the Trappist style must be called “abbey beer” Only 7 breweries are allowed to use the “Trappist” logo on their products. 6 are in Belgium and one is in the Netherlands:” At Brussels bistro, You can taste Chimay (white, red and blue) Orval , Rochefort ( 6,8,and 10) and Westmalle triple.

Are Abbeys Beers named after monasteries?

Abbey beers are generally brewed under license by a commercial brewery, using the name and recipes of an abbey that has ceased brewing itself. Very few of them are actually made within the walls of a monastery, and the brewery is often far from the abbey that gives its name to the beer they produce. Some “abbey” beers are even simply named after an abbey ruin or local saint without any connection with an existing monastic order.  Nevertheless, many of these Abbey beers are of very high quality. Like Trappist beer, abbey beer designates a traditional segment and refer to old recipes and methods of brewing, rather than a single style of beer. At Brussels bistro, You can taste Grimbergen Double, Leffe blong or brown, Maredsous, Affligem,…
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What type beers are low fermentation beers? 

A Pils is a low fermentation beer, light straw to golden color and crystal clear. Hops are dominant with a slightly bitter taste and a long and delicate, almost floral flavour. The beer is always filtered and saturated. It contains an average 5% of alcohol. It is a highly thirst-quenching and digestible beer that one must drink Pils or “pilsner” is derived from the name of the Bohemian city of Pilsen (Plzen) where this type of beer was first brewed back in the 1840’s when the citizens, brewers and maltsters of Pilsen formed a brewer’s guild and called it the People’s Brewery of Pilsen. Very popular in the Germanic countries, it appeared in Belgium only in 1929. Pils is the most common type of beer in the world, and Belgium is no exception. The worst beers in the world probably belong to this family, but a pils can be a marvel too. Most of the Belgian breweries brew pils, including the most renowned producers of sophisticate beers. cold.

Which is the most famous example of a golden ale beer?   

Strong golden ales are high-fermenting beers of pale golden color with a long-lasting foam, and a very high alcoholic strength ranging from 6 to 9%. What differentiates them from ‘Triple’ (a style described under Abbey beers) is the paler and clearer color, simpler taste, a flavor more on the malt and hops side and no distinctive yeast character. Some complexity arise from the high ABV. A fruity and spicy character may be present, from either warm fermentation or actual spice additions. The most famous example in this category is the classic Duvel, one of the flagships of Belgian beer worldwide. The name of this beer is an alteration of the word “duivel” which means “devil” in Flemish, and most beers produced after this model have similar demonious names. But all of them are not copies of the most renowned brand, and many are excellent beers, acclaimed by experts.

Which Ales are most similar to the Pale Ales in Great Britain?

Amber Ales are somewhat similar to Pale Ales made in Great Britain. Some are labeled as Ale, others as Special to distinguish them from standard lager beers. They are top-fermenting beers with an amber color obtained by using a colored or caramelized malt. They are slightly hopped with soft aromatic hops, a yeast taste, and a spicy and soft savor. An amber beer is always filtered and pasteurized. It contains an average 5% to 7% of alcohol. It is a pleasant easy drinking beer that you must drink cold, and preferably on draught rather than from a bottle!                             
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Which Ale is the Flemish Old Brown?

Belgian red-brown sour ale, or ‘Flemish old brown’ is a unique style produced in the region of Roeselare, in the South-West of Flanders. The colour comes from reddish barley malts used for its brewing, and from a long maturation in oak barrels. Red beers have a raw and fruity taste, sometimes not so far from Lambic and the derived fruit beers, although the manufacturing of these families of beers are completely different. They are often filtered and pasteurised, with an average ABV around 5.5%.

Which is the favorite summertime beer in Belgium?    

White beer is usually brewed from equal quantities of pale malted barley and raw wheat, sometimes with the addition of oats. It is White beer, or witbier, is a traditional style of wheat beer that was produced since the 14th century in the Leuven region, South-East of Brussels. Its highly refreshing, effervescent character, with a fresh herbal and spice taste, unmalted wheat flavour and a slight lactic acidity, makes white beer a summertime favorite in Belgium. Spiced with coriander seeds and dried Curaçao orange peels.

Which beer are brewed in the winter and enjoyed in the summer?

Saison beer – Specialties brewed in farmhouses or small breweries in Wallonia, mainly in the province of Hainaut. Traditionally, these beers used to be brewed in the winter to be consumed during the summer. The specific character of a saison beer owes much to the quality of the water used, and because of the handcrafted methods of brewing and the relatively small quantity produced, it is often “wild” and quite different from one year to another. The brewing involves the use of malt, sometimes wheat, sometimes additional ingredients (spelt, honey, Liège syrup, mustard,…) and hop. Some seasons are unfiltered and undergo a secondary fermentation in the bottle. A few years ago, the style was on the decline, but it regained popularity recently, up to the point that Saison Dupont was nominated “Best Beer in the World” by Men’s Journal in July 2005.

What is the “Special” category of beers?      

Under the type “Special”, unsurprisingly, we find a great diversity of beers that do not fall into a well defined category. These be In both cases, they are often manufactured by small independent breweries and are the pride of their locality. Most are high-fermentation beers, but diverse in colour, character, and strength. They are often fermented with distinctive yeasts and sometimes from unusual cereals and malts, with additional ingredients, such as candi sugar or honey, various herbs and spices. On the stronger side are blonde ale, generally of high alcoholic strength and complex flavour, somewhat like English barley wines.

What is LAMBIC/GEUZE  beer brewed from?                                               

Lambic is brewed from a grist composed of 70% barley malt and 30% unmalted wheat. Then the wort is exposed to the air which provides the wild yeasts that will start the fermentation process. Aged hop (thus less bitter) is added for preservation. Lambic is matured for at least two years in oak barrels. Young lambic is slightly sour, old lambic has greater acidity. Gueuze is sour and sometimes harsh, usually without bitterness. The colour is golden to light amber. Carbonation can be champagne-like. Lambic, Gueuze and Faro are all nutritive and refreshing drinks. They must be served cold (5-6°C). The tradition of Lambic originates from a place called the “Pajotteland”, in the South-West of the Brussels region. The name possibly comes from the small city of Lembeek where beers of spontaneous fermentation were already brewed back in the 15th century. Some brewers still produce the beer the same old way. Lambic is sold “as is” but it also serves as the basis to produce Gueuze, Faro and the derived fruit beers (mainly Kriek and Framboise).

What is Fruit Beer made of?           

Fruits, juice or extracts have been added to beer for a very long time, especially with lambic. Kriek (cherry) and Framboise (raspberry) are two traditional styles, famous in belgium. Peach is also a common addition to this type of beer. Kriek is lambic fermented with sour cherries, traditionally coming from Schaerbeek (a district of Brussels). The cherries are left in for several months, causing a refermentation of the additional sugar. Typically there is no sugar left at the end of the fermentation, thus traditional kriek has a fruit flavour without sweetness. Framboise or Frambozenbier is similar, fermented using raspberries instead of sour cherries.