Monday, July 15, 2013
7 Belgian-style beers to drink during Belgian Beer Week
A beer a day, you could say.
Belgium Independence Day is July 21. Don't have it on your office calendar? Americans probably aren't racing to purchase party hats, but it's reason enough for bars around town to host special events all week in honor of Belgian and Belgian-style beers.
Bless those Belgians: Beer is part of the fabric of their culture. "Beer is to Belgium as wine is to France," according to a story in The Economist called "How a small, unremarkable country came to dominate the world of beermaking." Belgian beers vary widely and include witbier (white beer), dubbels and tripels, sour ales, Trappist ales, and more. Some have a champagne-like effervescence; many are high in alcohol content.
Some breweries in Texas have Belgian-style offerings, says Charles Reis, general manager of Blackfriar Pub in Uptown Dallas. He recommends Adelbert's in Austin for some of the state's best. Locally, Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Lakewood Brewing Company, and Community Beer Company provide Belgian-style beers that'll please. Arguably the best, of course, come from Belgium.
Find all beer-related events in DFW here.
If there were ever a week where you should kick back a Belgian beer a day, it's this one. (Studies show Texans in 2012 drank, on average, a beer a day anyhow.) We surveyed a bar manager, a bar owner, and two local brewers and let them pick their favorite seven Belgian and Belgian-style beers from around the world.
Hope you've got Monday through Sunday beer mugs.
Hoegaarden (Belgian white, or witbier): You've probably have heard of Hoegaarden, a traditional Belgian beer that contains notes of coriander and orange peel. Reis calls it a "perfect patio drinker." Trade it for Blue Moon next time you're jonesing for a wheat -- it's better than its competitors, says Brian Rudolph, owner of The Holy Grail Pub in Plano and FM Smoke House in Irving. "Most American versions of Belgian wit fail with a bit of a coppery metallic finish, but Hoegaarden finishes much softer," Rudolph says.
- Also good when: You've finished mowing the lawn.
- Pair it with: seafood
Unibroue's La Fin du Monde (tripel-style golden ale): This tripel packs 9% ABV, but the alcohol is very well hidden, says Kevin Carr and his brewers at Community Beer Company. Unibroue is a Canadian brewery making respectable Belgian-style brews, including Maudite and Terrible. "I can't say a bad word about any of their beers," Reis says. If you have to pick one this week, go with La Fin du Monde, which has a nice balance of malt and yeast.
- Pair it with: seafood or game
Deep Ellum's Farmhouse Wit: Many Belgians are seasonals, but you can still snag some of Deep Ellum's Farmhouse Wit, which is a "modern hybrid of wheat and rye," according to DEBC's website. Michael Peticolas, owner of Peticolas Brewing Company in Dallas, says Farmhouse Wit is a great summer sipper. He also notes that since it's made in Dallas, it hasn't had to travel long distances, which makes for a fresher beer.
- Other good local Belgians: Lakewood Brewing's Till & Toil and Community Beer Company's Inspiration Ale
Ommegang Three Philosophers (Belgian quad): This New York brewery focuses just on Belgian-style ales, and many consider it to be the best Belgian-style ale maker in the U.S. Three Philosophers is brewed with cherries, which results in "full bodied dark chocolate, caramel, and deep cherry with muted alcohol notes," Rudolph says.
- Pair it with: braised meats, especially rabbit
- Other notable beers from Ommegang: Reis recommends Gnomegang, a Belgian strong ale with notes banana and spice which are "balanced out with honey and bready yeast," he says.
Delirium Tremens (Belgian strong ale): We couldn't have a list of Belgians without mentioning Delirium Tremens. The name riffs off a mental condition relating to a "severe form of alcohol withdrawal," says the National Library of Medicine, the Delirium we're talking about is the blonde, Belgian-style tripel made at Huyghe Brewery in Belgium. At 8.5% ABV, it's strong but interesting: It's "dry and fruity like a tripel, spicy like a saison, but with definite sweet wheat malt underneath," Reis says. It was named "best beer in the world" at the World Beer Championships.
- Pair it with: barbecue. Or, make it a meal (though you'll feel the buzz quickly).
Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne (Flemish sour): Rudolph says Duchesse de Bourgogne is a good gateway beer for wine drinkers. It doesn't carry the hoppy bitterness of IPAs, he says. Rudolph describes the nose as balsamic vinegar, which develops into a green apple and sherry finish. RateBeer.com gave it a 98 out of 100.
- Pair it with: arugula or poached root vegetables
Rochefort Trappistes 8 (Belgian strong ale): Save this one for dessert. Rochefort Trappistes 8 is a dark, strong Belgian that gives off notes of berries with chocolate. Its "extremely complex flavor keeps you wanting another sip," said Carr.
- Also good for: beer drinkers honing their skills. "It can be challenging, but intriguing, to pick out everything that is going on," Reis says.
- Pair it with: barbecue or pungent cheeses
Did we leave off your favorite? Tell us in the comments section below.