Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Belgian Beers: Introduction to the world of old beers

Belgium beers are probably one of the oldest in the world and have a full range from pale lager, lambic beer, Dubbel, Tripel.... and so, to understand and get accustomed to the wide variety of Belgian beer, we were humbled to be invited to the first Belgian Beer tasting session hosted by the Ambassador of Belgium to Singapore himself.

Just a word of caution. Belgian beers can have high alcohol content. The stronger ones typically the Dubbels goes between 6-8% and we tasted a few that went up to 11% ABV. (Think wine!)

In general, we like the champagne style beers which are typically double fermented. Generally sweet like champagne but still retaining the beer characteristics. We love them and they are pretty popular with the ladies.

Many of the beers were fermented in wine barrels and these gave the beers extra flavours (strong) and if you love depth in flavours in your food (or drinks), these are pretty interesting to check out.

Belgian brewers has NO rules. Creativity in their beers holds no boundaries and we are surely grateful for that. From strawberries to apples to peach to espresso to port to wine...... and the methods of fermentation, double... spontaneous... we are sure you will find one beer that suits your liking. If you are able to survive the tasting, that is.

According to the brewers, they see a trend in people getting the bigger bottles 75cl to bring to parties in place of beer. We are not surprised with the complexity of flavours and special craftbeers available in the market right now.

And here, we share some of our favourite beers we managed to taste.

Brunehaut Brewery  [website] [Facebook]

We love the champagne beers here. Brunehaut Fruit beer (5%) ABV. It is organic and gluten free, while keeping all the flavours of a traditional craft beer. The St Martin Blond (7% ABV) was particularly outstanding too.

De Gouden Arend - Brewery de Ryck [website]

While Brewery De Ryck carries Steenuilke (6.5% ABV), which is good with spicy food, the Arend series of Blond, Dubbel and Tripel, the true standout is the Gouden Arend (9% ABV) which is their anniversary brew. Full of flavours, fruity and surprisingly powerful, we love it! We were quite sure there were hints of lychee (think moscato) but it could had been the alcohol speaking.

Brasserie Dubuisson [website]

Surprisingly, we did not get a photo of the actual bottle so we got the above photo off the brewery website. This beer definitely left an impression. This beer is fermented in oak barrels that were formerly used for burgundy. Very pretty colour and a taste that is leaning towards that of wine. A matured taste with a great bouquet of berries and surprisingly long finish. This beer is brewed in limited quantities and specially made for year end festivities. (13% ABV)

Brewery Broeder Jacob [website]

Remember we mentioned there are no rules for brewers? The standout from Brewery Broeder Jacob are the Double Port (9% ABV) and Double Espresso (7.7% ABV) for us! 1% of tawny port goes into the Double Port and that is why the taste of port is so pronounced in it. Johan (Director) told us that the family is in the coffee business and they experimented with the Double Espresso, which we thought worked really well! Think Kalua, the bubbly type.

Brouwerij De Halve Maan [website]

This is the only brewery within the historical center of Brugges. Like all the breweries that we tasted beer from, they have a good series of beer and the Straffe Hendrik Heritage (11% ABV) stands out.
It is a special variety of the Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel, as it is fermented in oak barrel for a year. Taste and frangrance of the beer is complex and this is (again) a cross between a beer with the subtle taste of wine and wood. Dark fruits and licorice can be tasted.

The brewery is also doing crowdfunding for the construction of a pipeline to connect the brewery to the bottling facility. Go check it out on their website! The highest membership entitles you to 33cl of beer EVERYDAY of your life!

It is impossible to list all the beers we tasted here, but do check out the other breweries listed here:

Brasserie - Microbrasserie De La Principaute - that exhibits the different flavours using three different hops.

Het Anker - brewery hotel and restaurant on-site

Brewery Omer Vander Ghinste - arguably the best dark beer we tasted.

Oud Beersel - the Lambic beers were pretty awesome.

St-Feuillien Brewery - St-Feuillien Grand Cru (9.5%) is worth a mention.

And of course, with the beers, light beers from Gunter's were served. We were so impressed that we had already made reservations for dinner later in the month.

The tasting gave us the motivation to visit Belgium, with the extensive offers of tastes in the beers and the cuisine. Belgium has many up and coming chefs and we will be sure to visit if we manage to make the trip happen! Most breweries are open for visits, you just need to contact them and arrange in advanced.

Big thank you to Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) and Wallonia Export-Investment Agency (AWEX) and the Embassy of Belgium for organising this event.

We sure hope to see more Belgian beers available in Singapore soon! In the meantime, many of the breweries exports to Japan, US and Thailand!

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