Look to Belgian for your next drink

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By Andrew Chow

Who doesn’t like a frothy after work or over the weekend, sitting in your favourite beer garden? With the rise of craft beers and more refined palates for beer, why not ditch the VB and Carlton Draught opt for a Belgian beer for you next drink?

With Belgium holding the title for the ‘greatest number of individual beer brands’ and being regarded as ‘The Disneyland of Beer’, it should come as no surprise that the nation, smaller than Tasmania, produces one of the worlds widest and most varied range of beer styles, exporting many around the world.

Some may already be aware of well-known Belgian Beers such as Stella Artois, Duval and Palm. Trappist and Abby beers such as Chimay, Leffe and Westemalle are beginning to gain notoriety among beer drinkers. Westemalle has been recognised as one of the best beers in the world.

For those willing to go on a bit of palate adventure with their beer, Belgian beer offers drinkers flavours like cherry or chocolate, and with flavours rich and sweet through to tart and sour, Belgium beer has something for every palate.

Belgian beers are also majorly styled by Trappist, or monastery beers, with Belgium having 6 out of 11 official Trappist breweries in the world. Monks brew this style of beer in monasteries and its origins began as a way of raising funds for the community. This gives Trappist beers a rich history.

Trappist beers vary widely in style and history but each beer provides the drinker with a treat for the senses. Trappist beers, unlike your regular brew from the bar, can be found to have an alcohol percentage ranging from a low of 7% to a high of over 11%.

Trappist beers are not something you can just have over an afternoon spent watching the footy, but are almost a meal on their own.

Belgian beer and its beer culture also serve well for those who enjoy a drink with a good, hearty meal. This is because in many regions of Belgium, the local brew would often be used as an ingredient in dishes, while the beer itself is served as an accompaniment. One of the most common uses of beer in dishes would be in the widely consumer and popular dish of steamed mussels, which uses the classic ‘Hoegaarden’ as an ingredient and is also often served alongside as a beverage.

Finally one of the features of Belgian beer that should be appreciated is the fact that each beer is often served in accompanying glassware. For Belgian Beer you’ll find a variety of beer glassware ranging from utilitarian to flamboyant – all specifically designed to show off the particular beer it serves. Some examples are the champagne-like flutes and tall narrow glasses, which all serve the purpose of allowing the beer’s aroma to develop, trap carbonation and concentrate the foam.

With all these factors in mind, it’s safe to say that leaving you local brews and exploring the wonders and intricacies of Belgian beer will leave you in beer nirvana.

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