Tuesday, May 1, 2012

25 Belgian beers I tried and (mostly) liked

Many great and wonderful things come from Belgium - including fries, chocolate, smos and, of course, my awesome girlfriend. Another thing the Belgians do best is beer. As an avid beer drinker, I've quite enjoyed sampling their many different brands over the years. 

More recently, I've started to try and drink as many different ones as possible (on separate occasions, of course!). This has resulted in a list of 25 different Belgian beers that I would like to share with you. I did not only drink these beers, but I also used my own very subjective rating scale to judge each one:

**** = loved it! Will drink it again and again.
*** = liked it a lot! Will order it again.
** = it's ok. Not bad, but I won't order it again.
* = bleh, bleh, BLEH! Stay away from this one.

Luckily for me, only few of the beers I drank fell into the one star category and more than a handful I rewarded with 4 stars. Some of the beers I hated are actually ones many people love, but well, there's no accounting for taste.

If you're a beer drinker you probably recognize most of these brands, but hopefully there's also some surprises. I've taken the liberty of sometimes listing more than one beer per brand and at other times just lumping them all together. 

In case you know nothing of the different types of Belgian beer, find out the basic distinctions here.


01. Bobeline **
I wanted to try this beer because it looked "different" plus I love Spa water. Yes, I made the silly inference that because this town makes great water their beer would be nice as well. Not so much. It wasn't bad, but I don't think I'll ever order it again.

02. Bon Secours **
This is another beer I thought looked interesting, but had a disappointing taste. I've learned since then that if you see a beer you've never seen before there's probably a good reason for it.

03. Brugse Zot blonde ****
Brugse zot is one of my new favourite beers to drink. I first discovered it while visiting Brugge and I loved it right away. Don't let the silly logo fool you, it's a really good beer!!

04. Brugse Zot brown ***
The dark version of Brugse zot is also pretty good, but I don't like it as much as the blonde one. I guess it's a matter of taste, so if you prefer darker beer try this one instead.

05. Chimay triple ***
This is one of the Trappist beers. They usually come in (at least) 2 different kinds double and triple, but sometimes there's other variations like quadruple or blonde. Chimay is an nice brand and I would drink their beers again, but it's not really the kind of beer I get really excited about.

06. Duvel ***
Duvel is one of those nice beers that's always a good choice. It's not the best beer I've ever had, and it's not in my top 5, but it's still a really nice beer.

07. Ezel blonde **
This is the kind of beer that tastes pretty much like it looks: cheap and average. Still I was rather disappointed about that. You shouldn't give this brand a try unless there are no better options.

08. Ezel brown *
The only thing worse than the blonde donkey beer, is the brown version. I had two sips, then threw it out. I thought it was disgusting. So stay away from this one!

09. Grimbergen **
Grimbergen is an Abbey beer that comes in a few different versions. I think I tried a six pack of the gold variety (or maybe it was the blonde), but I did not care for it much. It's not a bad beer, I just didn't like the aftertaste of this brand.

10. Jupiler ***
This is the first entry of regular ale on this list (I think it's called 'pale lager' but then I'm not that versed in official beer terminology). Because Belgium is so good at making beer, even their regular stuff is pretty good. I would choose this over Stella (number 19 on this list) any time.

11. Keizer Karel (blonde) ***
Keizer Karel was surprisingly good. I only tried the blonde version and I really liked it. 

12. De Koninck ***
This is the beer I usually order when one of my other favourites Palm (number 18 on the list) isn't available. It's similar, but not as good. Still, it's a very nice beer to have.

13. Leffe blonde ****
Leffe is always a good choice of brand when choosing among similar standard brands. I really enjoy their blonde beer.
14. Leffe brown ***
Leffe brown is just as good a beer as the blonde version, but as with most beers I prefer the lighter version slightly over the brown one. 

15. Lucifer ***
I had to try this one just because it looked unusual. I expected to be disappointed, but it's actually a really good beer!

16. Maredsous **
Another Abbey beer (or is it Trappist? I am never sure which is which) on this list, but one I don't really care much about. I think I tried several of their beers, but it's just not for me. I think it's just the typical taste this brand has I don't really like.

17. Morte subite natural Oude Geuze *
I thought this beer was disgusting! It's described as "special" and "unusual", which I suppose it is, but if you enjoy any of the beers I've listed so far I doubt you'd want to try this. They also have flavored beers like Kriek, which could be decent, but stay away from this particular version.

18. Palm ****
You can never go wrong ordering a Palm. It's just a really really nice beer, one that I've been drinking for years.

19. Stella artois **
I couldn't decide whether to give this 2 or 3 stars. It's not a brand I would ever choose if I had better options, still it's not that bad a beer to drink. It's just a little boring and average.

20. Straffe Hendrik *
Perhaps if you enjoy really dark, strong, bitter beers you should give it a try, otherwise stay the hell away from a Straffe Hendrik!

21. Tempelier ****
This beer was such a nice surprise. I just thought the label looked cool so I had to try it, but it's actually a really good, yummy beer.

22. Verboden vrucht (dark) **
Verboden vrucht (Forbidden fruit) is described as different and unusual and I can tell you that usually means it's got a weird, bad taste. This one wasn't actually as bad as some of the other beers I've drank with a similar description, but I would never order this again.

23. Westvleteren X *
Westvleteren is one of the most exclusive Trappist beers, which means that everyone claims it's o-so good. We got the chance to buy a six pack last year and it's one of the few beers I just couldn't finish. I thought it was absolutely disgusting!

24. Westmalle (double, triple) ****
Westmalle is my favourite Trappist/Abbey beer. I even got to drink one at the bar across the actual Abbey it's brewed! I always have a hard time deciding which one I like best, the double or the triple. This doesn't really matter though as they are both delicious.

25. Winterkoninkske *
The final beer on the list was another disappointment. If there's one thing I learned from tasting some of these  random beers is that very, very dark beer is just not for me. This is another beer I thought was disgusting and could not finish.


Anonymous said...

What a great list! One beer I discovered last year is Rodenbach. It is a dark beer but the taste is neither too strong not too bitter. A fine choice for winter meals.

Natazzz said...

I've heard of Rodenbach, but I've never had the pleasure of trying it. Perhaps if I do a Geman list I can add it.

Anonymous said...

Rodenbach is a Belgian beer which originated in Roeslaere. Now it is brewed by Palm.

Natazzz said...

Oops..I was convinced it was German. I made a similar mistake with La Trappe, I always thought it was Belgian, turns out it's Dutch.