by Chris Bertram on January 2, 2004

Oddbins the off-licence (that’s liquor store to you guys) nearest my home recently got in a largish selection of Belgian beers. I spent a month in Belgium just over a year ago and one of the many pleasures of being there was sampling as many of “their excellent brews”: as I could. There are many many different styles, but my favourite of all was a Trappist beer (made by monks) called “Orval”: . It is not as strong as the other Trappists and has a slight aftertaste of grapefruit (no-one else tastes this!). Every Belgian beer has its own dedicated glass and Orval is no exception – it is one of the most stylish.

As well as the Trappists (“Orval”: , “Chimay”: , “Rochefort”: ,”Westmalle”: and “Westvleteren”: – the hardest to obtain) there are many distinctive styles such as the Lambics (Gueze Belle Vue) either straight or fruit flavoured, lager-style beers, British-style beers (developed for WW1 Scottish soldiers), dark ales, white beers (such as Hoegaarden) and so on. I’ve been given many different estimates of how many different ones there are (up to 2500!) Wonderful.



Dedman 01.02.04 at 9:49 pm

Alas, the selection of Belgian white beers here in Beaumont, Texas is lacking. Houston, with a fair selection, is 100 miles west.

I am mighty pleased that the Michigan Brewing Company has resurrected Celis White . . . .

Do you like Wieckse Witte from Holland?


ogged 01.02.04 at 10:06 pm

No post on Belgian beer is complete without mentioning Duvel. By way of the Duvel site, one finds a Belgian-style beer brewed in America, called Three Philosophers. Cheers.


Steve 01.02.04 at 10:30 pm

I am partial to Chimay myself, plus the occasional lambic. A good US Belgian-style ale is Pranqster, from North Coast Brewing Company.


Thomas 01.02.04 at 10:39 pm

I’ve always liked Delirium Tremens. Carbonated and almost like champagne. I drank a lot of Orval a couple of years ago, due to a pricing snafu at my then-local Safeway (a 1.50 a bottle), and never tasted grapefruit.


Katherine 01.03.04 at 1:17 am

The Trappist ales are too fruity/spicy for me, but I love the whites and blondes.

Is there anything that’s in the style of Hoegardden, but not Hoegardden? (I don’t want to drink the same thing all the time.)

Blue Moon does not count. Allagash Belgian White is not half bad, but I assume it’s only available in New England.


Frolic 01.03.04 at 1:54 am

God I love Belgium beer. I spent a year teaching English in Lille, France, just a few minutes from the Belgium border. One of the high points of the year was when some of my students drove me to a beer supermarket. There must have been 500 varieties of Belgium beer.

I was partial to Leffe, which was easy to find at every bar in northern France but difficult to find in the US.


Jeremy Osner 01.03.04 at 2:41 am

I too am a Chimay man — I like the Rouge because it is cheapest around here — but would note that there is a very good Belgian-style ale brewed by Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY. Indeed I see now that I look at Google, the Three Philosophers that Ogged mentions is their product.


Jackie D 01.03.04 at 6:39 am

I love Duvel, and a Hoegaarden if my tastebuds are up to something spicy (yes, that’s spicy to me). I would love to do a beer tour of Belgium, but I don’t think I’d live past the first week or so.


Jeremy Osner 01.03.04 at 12:31 pm

Your obvious course of action is to take a one-week beer tour of Belgium.


Dedman 01.03.04 at 2:23 pm

Wieckse Witte from Holland is a bit like Hoegaarden, isn’t it?


Matt Zwolinski 01.03.04 at 10:38 pm

Ommegang, as mentioned makes some great Belgian-style ales. So does Unibroue, in Canada. You can find a lot more, with reviews, at (


opus 01.04.04 at 9:35 am

mmmm. I was in Brussels last month for a couple of days, and did my damndest to try as many as I could–beermania ( was right around the corner from where I was staying. I agree with you–I liked the Trappist beers the best. Though I wasn’t above slumming a Jupiler on the train back from Brugge…


Aramis Martinez 01.04.04 at 11:42 pm

Hmm, looks like I might have to run a few [dozen] experiments and see if anything can become as beloved as Guiness.


Steven G. Harms 01.07.04 at 4:30 am

Foremost, a previous poster hit it on the head, no discussion is complete without the mention of Duvel. It’s better from a tap (natuarlly) although a bottle is pretty good when in the states or elsewhere.

I would also add that Kwak is pretty good.

For those who haven’t been to .be, I would add that each Belgian beer has a special glass associated with serving said beer. Duvel’s glass is like a piano man’s tip jar or like a very overgrown snifter.

I would add that our neighbours north of the border have been continuing in the Belgian tradition. Les Quebequois are producing a rather Belgian-ish beer called “Fin du monde” End of the World.



Simon 01.08.04 at 11:49 am

What a lot of people don’t know, is that there are 6 Trappist beers. La Trappe (Achel) brews the 6th.

As for white beers like Hoegaarden, we also have for instance ‘Brugs tarwebier’, ‘Wittekerke’, ‘Dentergems Witbier’, ‘Mater’,… Hoegaarden itself has some varieties as well: ‘Hougaerdse Das’, ‘Hoegaarden Speciale’, and ‘Hoegaarden Grand Cru’ are some of them.

But I fear most of these beers aren’t known abroad.

Which only leaves me to agree that Duvel and Delirium Tremens are amongst the finest beers around. Myself, I prefer the Westvleteren Trappist. Maybe a suggestion: ‘Oostendsche baron’.

Simon, Belgium

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