Flanders Brown Ale is a distinct regional style of beer in Belgium. These beers range from deep copper to brown in color and have a slightly to strongly tart taste with a dry, assertive, lactic character. They exhibit a complex malt character of caramel, nuts, and slight chocolate, with flavors that may remind you of olives, raisins, or spices. The unique fermentation process contributes to a fruity and spicy complexity, with a vinous nature. While hop flavor and aroma are not prominent, the bitterness can be noticeable.
Belgian-style pale ales are similar to British pale ales but have a spicier and more aromatic malt and yeast character. They range in color from amber to copper and are characterized by low, but discernible, hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. These beers have a light to medium body and a low malt aroma, with sweetish to toasty malt overtones. They may exhibit a fruitiness reminiscent of oranges or pears, although not as pronounced as in other Belgian ales. Diacetyl should not be perceptible.
This West Flanders style, known as the “burgundies of Belgium,” has a distinctive red color and a thin but firm body. It offers a tart taste with a wide range of fruitiness. The red color comes from the use of Vienna malt and aging in uncoated oak tuns in the brewery, which imparts caramel flavors, tannins, and acidity.
Saisons are specialty beers enjoyed during the summer and harvest seasons in French-speaking Belgium. They are highly effervescent and exhibit a unique fruitiness, often with citric notes and a pungent sourness accentuated by aroma hops. Although distinctly bitter, the style is not assertive. Saisons are crisp, tart, and refreshing. Most of these beers have an orange hue, ranging from light to amber. Some may exhibit a crystal maltiness.
Strong Golden Ale
Belgian golden ales are strong, golden-colored ales with a fruity character and a moderate hoppiness, featuring low hop flavor and aroma. They are typically highly effervescent. References to the devil are often associated with these beers.
Trappist ale refers to beer brewed exclusively within Trappist monasteries or under their license. Its appellation is based on origin rather than style. Only five breweries in Belgium and one in the Netherlands produce beers recognized as “trappiste.” The five Belgian abbeys are Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, Westvleteren, and Westmalle. There are also commercial versions referred to as “bière d’abbaye” or “abbey beer,” which are not brewed under monastic control but follow similar ingredients and brewing methods. While Trappist beers can vary in character, they are generally regarded as relatively strong, malty, and fruity, with a unique Belgian spiciness and a slight acidity that distinguishes them from other ale traditions.
Lambic is a type of wheat beer that is distinctive for its use of unmalted wheat and spontaneous fermentation. The lambic family includes various substyles such as gueuze, faro, kriek, and framboise.
Beers originating from Leuven and Hoegaarden are traditionally known as “white” beers due to their pale color and slight cloudiness. These beers, often enjoyed as dessert beers in Belgium, have a tangy and faintly acidic aftertaste. They are refreshingly sharp with hints of orange, honey, and spices.