Belgian Beer Primer

As Alex mentioned in his previous post, on Friday evening (8/8), my school treated us to a charter bus tour of Brussels finishing with a beer tasting in an historical pub in the Grand Place (the main square downtown) called Roy d’Espagne (King of Spain).  During WWII, the Resistance worked out of the top floor and the Germans who had occupied Brussels were eating and drinking downstairs with no knowledge of their upstairs enemies.  We had the entire top floor to ourselves and got to enjoy several tasty, classic Belgian beers.

The order of a Belgian flight (or any other flight, typically) goes from lowest alcohol concentration to highest.  Gotta work yourself up in baby steps.  The flight was also served with an assortment of “snacks” including Chimay Trappist cheese, salami, cornichon pickles, olives, and pickled mini-onions.

The first beer we enjoyed was Jupiler. It was very light and crisp and a great opener to our Belgian beer experience.  I think it must be fairly common here because we see the logo everywhere.

 (not pictured here… because I was too excited to start drinking and forgot all about the blog!)

The second beer we tasted was a Leffe blonde.  A bit more complex and slightly more robust.


Next we sampled Chimay Blue.  This was a well-rounded amber.  Warm and cozy (or cosy, as they would spell it here).  I really enjoyed this one.  A new teacher who is not so new to Brussels suggested going to the monastery to buy the bottles from the source but apparently this is in high demand as it will take several calls to get through and after that you are given an appointment to buy whatever is available on the day you arrive.  Intense…


Then, a Hoegaarden.  I have adored this wit bier since college for its honeysuckle and citrus notes with warm spices.  This seemed a little out of order (given the color, style, and alcohol content) but nothing really surprises us much anymore here.

dat hoe

Finally, we finished with a kriek style lambic.  This beer goes through a second fermentation including cherries.  The lambics we tried last year when we were here were very bitter and sour (even with the fruit), but this was like drinking grenadine straight from the bottle.  Not my cup of tea, but I enjoyed trying it nonetheless.


After we finished the flight, we had the opportunity to order a full size beer.  Alex and I both opted for the Chimay Blue… the darkest offering on the menu. (picture includes our new friend, Mike’s selection as well)


We left in search of more beer and ended up at A La Mort Subite (Sudden Death).  I tried a Trappist beer called Westmalle Double and Alex had a Faro Lambic.  Our tour guide mentioned earlier that afternoon that if we ever ended up drinking here we would most likely also end up dancing on the tables.  I am sad to report that everyone in our group was able to hold their own and the night pressed on with lots of good conversation but no dancing.

geusewestmalle double










Needless to say, this tasting experience only served to further whet our insatiable appetite for Belgian beers and we are on the hunt for more.  We’ll keep you in the loop.