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BLA in Belgium

May 20, 2013

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I’m afraid that the gift of this trip and the beer I drank being fresh in my mind reached its expiration date long ago. Our (my wife and my) trip to Belgium and Amsterdam took place in November of last year, 2012. It’s odd to think, but my newborn son who is now a month old was just a tiny little 8 week old fetus at the time. How quickly time flies!

Before the memories of my fantastic beer in Belgium get away from me for good, I thought I’d do my best to capture a crude log of what I was lucky enough to consume.

My apologies to Amsterdam, and The Netherlands, for failing to keep an accurate account of the amazing craft beer I had during that leg of our trip. Make no mistake, craft beer in The Netherlands is thriving. If you’re ever in Amsterdam, go no further than Arendsnest Proeflokaal (translation: The Heron’s Nest) for an amazing selection of Dutch beer. About the only thing on their extensive beer menu that I was familiar with were the La Trappe
beers, from De Koningshoeven Brewery, the world’s only Dutch trappist brewery. That says a lot about the variety of craft beer being produced in The Netherlands, and from what I tasted, it’s all pretty fantastic.

(For those unfamiliar with the term “trappist” ale [see Wikipedia definition for more info], these are the handful of monasteries that still brew beer within the walls of said monastery, under the supervision of monks, and solely for the purpose of maintaining the buildings and grounds. The result is some of the finest, highest quality ale that you can find. The most familiar trappist brewery, to Americans at least, is probably Chimay. But you can find La Trappe beers in the U.S. if you look hard enough.)

And now, on to my list of beers from the Belgium leg of our trip, which covered the cities of Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp (in that order). This list has been thrown together pretty haphazardly and the beers do not necessarily appear in the order in which they were consumed. A number of these beers are available in the U.S., although might not be quite as fresh. (There is something about a Hershey bar in Hershey, PA that makes it taste better, ya know?)

The beer:

– Affligem Blonde (draft), a nice simple start, but a good accompaniment to our mussels and fries, which we enjoyed in a small bar overlooking the square pictured above.

– A couple of Gueze beers at Moeder Lambic (draft). I failed to write down the names of the beers, but no chance at finding them in the U.S. anytime soon as they were from small, local breweries. Still, I wish I had written them down!

– Corsendonk Christmas Ale, great accompaniment to the local chocolates we bought

– Struisse Witte, went well with the salmon dinner with tiny gray shrimp

– Leffe Radieuse, went well with the local sausage and stoemp

– Cantillon brewery, 4 beers: Lambic, Gueze, Kriek, and Rose du Gambrinus (raspberry)

– DuPont redor 5 degrees (draft)

– Grimbergen Tripel

– Staminee de Garre (x2 draft), a tripel: This tiny little bar was remarkable… One of the best places I’ve ever had a beer. This is the only draft beer they serve, and they have a limit of 3 drafts per person. They say first beer is for taste, second beer is for fun, and third beer is for sleep. At around 10% ABV, that’s completely true! (Believe it or not, I found this beer in the US, in Washington, D.C. at a great Belgian bar/restaurant –and my favorite in the city– called Granville Moore’s. I didn’t think this beer was exported, but I stand corrected)

– Achel Brun

– Orval, consumed fresh and also aged ~6 months… Both fantastic. Orval would be a “desert island beer” for sure

– Straffe Hendrik tripel

– Oude Beersel Gueuze

– Moinette Brune (brasserie DuPont)… All I remember is that this beer tasted just like strawberry jam

– Westvleteren 12… The unicorn itself!

– Saison DuPont

– De Koninck Winter (draft)

– Rochefort 8 (2007), served at the world famous Kulminator bar!

There are most certainly other beers that I enjoyed during my week in Belgium, but at some point one has to actually enjoy the beer on its own without bothering to write it down, right? At least that’s what I will keep telling myself.

I can’t wait until the next trip back!

Cheers,
BLA

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