When UNESCO puts your beer culture on their list of intangible cultural heritages of humanity, you know you're doing something right. Belgians are definitely known for their beer and their beer consumption. In fact, they drink around 84 liters of beer each year. But if you think that's high, imagine this: That's down from 200 liters a year in 1900.
So what makes Belgian beer so special? First, it's how they brew it. Think you can replicate their system at home? Think again. The Belgians don't have one system for brewing their beer. Instead, all brewers have their own style. Therefore, you can end up with two beers that are technically the same but taste completely different. Second, they even have different types of glasses that they swear changes the taste of the beer.
Types of Belgian Beer:
So you're ready to sample the best that Belgium has to offer in beer but you can't afford to tour every brewery in the country? No problem. We have the next best thing. Here's your guide to a few of the different types of Belgian beers available.
Say you're a monk and you're a little bored. What can you do? If you're a monk in Belgium, you can brew beer, of course. Trappist ales refer to a description of who made the beer: Trappist monks. When you see "Trappist" on a beer label, you're guaranteed that the beer was made at the monastery by monks and the profits of the beer benefit social services and the community. There are six Trappist breweries in Belgium.
Abbey ales sometimes get mixed up with Trappist ales, but they're different. The biggest difference is that monks don't brew Abbey beers. Instead, commercial brewers make them. However, some breweries do have special license arrangements with certain churches so the breweries can brew beer in the church's name and give a portion of the proceeds back to the church.
Let's all raise a glass to Peter Celis, a young farmer who started a new brewery in the 1960s to revive white Belgian beer. Without him, we might not have the opportunity to enjoy this moderately sweet beer with just a hint of tartness and citrus notes. Called white beer because its appearance is a hazy and unfiltered pale white, this beer uses unmalted wheat, which gives it a grainier aroma.