Belgians are the world’s fifth biggest beer drinkers; they drink all colors of beer and brew almost 500 different varieties made in 115 breweries of all sizes. Beer was adopted as the national drink after the plague broke out in the Middle Ages, as beer was safer to drink as the water had been boiled. It seemed to be a miracle cure and beer became the daily drink.
Where: a fantastic array of breweries and speciality beers are available in Brussels, Belgium
Brews: Trappist beers, Chimay, Lambic, Westvleteren, and fruity specialities
Recommended: The bitter cherry or raspberry beer are delicious, but deadly
An Array of Beery Tipples
In such a beer mad nation, it’s only fitting that there’s a stunning array of varieties to choose from. Trappist beers, perhaps Belgium’s most revered tipple since monks started brewing them in the Middle Ages, are characterized by their rich, yeasty flavor. The most celebrated of these isChimay, brewed at Belgium’s biggest monastic brewery in Hainaut while the strongest isWestvleteren from Ypres.
Lambic beers, another Belgian specialty, are made using yeasts that are naturally present in the air instead of being added separately to the water and grain mix. Because of this, the breweries are nothing like usual sterile breweries as they are left deliberately dusty and unclean so the yeast can thrive. For a close up look at this process, visit the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels, one of the most atmospheric breweries in Belgium, run by a member of the Cantillon family who’ve been brewers since the 1700s.
Another treat for beer lovers is the country’s wide array of specialty beers with their strange and unusual tastes and flavours. Fruit beers are a Brussels favorites with the kriek (made from bitter cherries and added to Lambic beer) and frambozen (flavoured with raspberries) the most popular. Strong beers are another dangerous but enticing option in Belgium; the pilsners De Verboden Frucht (the forbidden fruit) and Duvel (devil) are both as strong as red wine.
Destination – Belgium
56 rue Gheude
1070 Brussels, Belgium
Open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm, and Saturdays 10am to 5pm. Entrances is 5 Euro 50 including a glass of beer. A Bargain!