As American Craft Beer Week comes to a close, I felt inclined to focus on some international beers/breweries that have influenced the beers that many American breweries create. Welcome to Belgium… and Canada (Belgian style beers from Canada).
Belgium has a rich history in beer dating back to at least to the first crusades in the 12th century. Breweries started in the French and Flemish abbeys to help raise money for the monasteries. Later in the second millennium, wine makers from France and Spain came to rule Belgium. They brought with them their wine-making techniques, but Belgium lacked the grapes needed for a winery. So, these vintners ended up influencing the Belgian brewing techniques.
With a quick history now rooted with in your skull sack, I chose two of the best beers coming out of Belgium and one Belgian inspired beer from Canada. All three have proven to be on the top of any beer lovers list of best beers. You need to be careful with these beers though, as they are high ABV but don’t necessarily taste like it.
Enough talk, lets drink.
And Now, the Brews
|Chimay | Bleue Grande Reserve | Belgian Strong Dark Ale|
|Chimay, pronounced [shi-MAY], is a genuine Trappist product, meaning the brewing takes place in a Trappist monastery and is in part brewed, by Monks. One thing to note: Trappist isn’t a style of beer. Rather, much like a Bordeaux or Champagne, the name refers to the specific place or region where it is made. The Chimay Grande Reserve is awesome! It is a Dark Strong Ale, and this is seen in the beer itself. You need to get close to this beer in order to smell anything, but noticeable on the nose are yeast (a common smell for most Belgian beers), banana, cinnamon and a little spice. The taste is very similar, with a subtle alcohol finish. This beer is super drinkable. Make sure you drink/store this beer at cellar temperature (55-60F), and don’t be afraid to age it. It is bottle fermented, and its flavors will continue to change and develop in your cellar.|
|25.4 oz. | 9% ABV
Serving: Drink this beer like a whiskey; sip it slowly. Pairs perfectly with BBQ Wings, duck confit and fig bites (if you’re super fancy), and some stinky blue cheese.
|Brasserie Rochefort | Trappistes Rochefort 10 | Abt/Quadrupel|
|Another Trappist ale, but this one is considered a Quadrupel. What is a Quadrupel you ask? No one really knows. Just know that there are 4 levels: singel, Dubbel, Tripel, and Quadrupel, and each is stronger than the previous. With that in mind, the Rochefort 10 is a heavy 11.3% alcohol. The nose boasts of Dark, ripe fruit and spices with a touch of apple and chocolate. There is also a hint of yeast that comes through on the tongue as well. This beer is very complex, the flavors are similar to the nose with a slight bitterness at first, but as it warms it all changes to more pepper and woody characteristics. I will warn you now, if you are new to Belgian beers, you may want to work your way up to this one, because it is a sweeter beer but it is very drinkable. The Rochefort 10 is highly considered one of the best Belgian beers out there.|
|11.2 oz. | 11.3% ABV
Serving: This beer is awesome with some high quality, bitter chocolate or dark caramel, some good, bold cheeses, and cured meats.
|Unibroue | La Fin Du Monde | Trippel|
|Although this beer comes from Quebec, Canada you would never be able to tell. La Fin Du Monde, if you don’t speak French, translates to “The End Of The World”. If it were the end of the world, this is the beer that I would loot. The aromas of yeast, lemon and honey with undertones of pepper and spice are super inviting. Again, the flavor follows suit with a nice buttery note that comes through that gives this beer a smooth creamy mouthfeel. Although it is 9% ABV, you would never be able to tell, which is both a blessing and a curse.|
|750ml | 9% ABV
Serving: This is another great beer to pair with salty blue cheese, but it also works with a lot of sea food like mussels, salmon, but also game (it’s very versatile).