June 2012 2
Top 10 Belgian Beer Brands and Best Belgian Beer
If it wasn’t for Germany being next door, Belgium would be at the top in world beer rankings. It’s right up there anyway, though! Belgium’s over 700 beers range from rare delicacies reminiscent of fine wine to hearty party drinks. Where do you start? Well, here is our current top 10 list to get you started. After you read it, we advise you to jump in and do your own taste-testing.
1. Westvleteren 12
Brewed at St Sixtus abbey in Flanders, Westvleteren is often touted as the best beer in Belgium and sometimes even in the world. Judging from its taste, it really could be. It’s dark and rich, bringing tastes of chocolate and cream as well as dates, raisins, peaches, figs, and wine, among others. It defines the class of abbey ales. Since this is a very small-capacity brewery, Westvleteren is often hard to get. You may actually have to phone ahead and drive to the abbey in person just for the chance to buy the maximum allowed per car – a single case with only 6 bottles!
2. Chimay White
Trappist monks at Forges-les-Chimay present another candidate for one of the world’s best beers. Several beers are brewed there, and all of them are well-known, though not all are easy to find. The taste is deep, strong, and laden with fruit and a little nutmeg and thyme.
3. Westmalle Triple
Another Trappist beer, this one from monks at Westmalle, near Antwerp. The brew comes with claims by the monks that it can improve your appetite, reduce stress, and even cure insomnia! It may be just the excellent taste, or it might really be true. Either way, it’s a really good beer that goes down smooth and tastes great along the way!
Duvel is an abbey beer, but not one made by Trappist monks. The name “Duvel” means “Devil”, after a Flemish customer’s exclamation “Nen echte duvel!” (“A real devil!”). Its fruity aroma complements a dry taste with a slightly sweet overtone and scent of hops.
5. St Bernardus Abt
ABV:12 – 10.5%
Yet another Trappist beer, this one is brewed in the abbey at Watou under the brand name of St. Bernardus. The taste is rich, containing licorice, plum, cherry, peppermint, and raisins and chocolate. Some even detect gingerbread. You barely notice the alcohol under the fruity flavors.
6. Corsendonk Pater Noster
Taking the name of a priory that existed from 1398 to 1784, this is rich red-brown beer that some say is even more refreshing than Duvel. The Pater is considered the best of the Corsendonk brews, with a fruity and bready aroma and a candy plus fruit taste mixed with malt. Be careful, this one also hides the alcohol very well.
7. Cantillon Gueuze
ABV:5% or a little more
Gueuze is a type of beer, not a brand. It’s a mix of lambics of different ages, refermented and bottled. Somewhat sweet and full-bodied, the traditional brews are not sweet and light like commercial versions – instead you get a sharp, flowery taste with hops, and a dry finish.
ABV:10 – 11.3%
Brewed by Trappist monks in the Ardennes, this beer is deep red-brown and fruity. You may taste raspberry, raisins, coffee, even prunes and grapefruit, as well as chocolate. Once again, the delicious taste conceals the alcohol very well, making this beer dangerous in the opinion of some tasters.
9. Karmeliet Tripel
From Bosteels brewery, Karmeliet Tripel is pale yellow with a sweet fruity taste. Some say this is a feminine beer because you can’t detect the alcohol for the sweet flavor. You can taste banana, honey, orange blossom, and green apple for tartness, along with malt and a slightly dry aftertaste. Why are all these beers so good? You just don’t want to stop!
We finish up this list with yet another Trappist beer, this one from the Abbaye d’Orval in the Ardennes. Orval is a little spicy, brown colored and memorable with a strong flavor of hops running from a bitter yet sweet flowery start to an emphatic hops finish. Overall a refreshing drink.
Now you have a starting point for your own exploration. One last word – these beers are so good you may overdo it without knowing it! Before you embark on a tour of these amazing Belgian treats, make sure you have a way to get home so you can enjoy without second thoughts!
Top 10 Strongest Beers and Strongest Beer in the World
So you’re a beer drinker huh? I bet you pride yourself on being able to decipher the tastes and also being able to handle a ton of it right? What man can’t handle a 24 pack of beer right? Or gal for that matter. Well we’re about to bring you a list of beers that demolish the 24 pack. May I present to you, the world’s strongest beers.
1. Start the Future
This beer is brewed in Holland by the brewery ‘t Koelschip, Start the Future is actually one of the cheaper bottles on the list at only $45 a piece. Maybe its because ‘t Koelschip knows that you’ll get more drunk with that $45 on this bottle than you would with that much worth of liquor. Start the Future has a 60% ABV which equates to 120 proof. Thats enough to knock a linebacker on his butt. To be drank from a small glass and NOT from the bottle, this is the next step in a brewery war to provide the masses with the highest ABV beer ever. After trying this, your liver will be praying all other breweries wave the white flag.
2. Schorschbock 57% finis coronat opus
Another beer that caught up in the war, Germany brewer Schorschbrau created this beer after its previous attempt (the 43%) was taken over. As you can see, at 57% ABV makes it number two on the list and as you can imagine, makes itself known right out of the gate. Open a bottle of Schorschbock and you’re nostrils will work overtime to alert your brain of impending doom. While this beer is intense, you’d be surprised at the slight sweet flavor you’ll receive. While you will taste a smokey and nutty flavor, your palette will certainly struggle with the massive amount of alcohol. This beer is about being on the list and quite honestly, nothing more.
3. End of History
This is the previous champion in the war for highest proof beer before our number 1 took it over. But you’ll find that this beer, even at second, still is more than your average joe can handle. End of History is a 55% ABV beer brewed in Scotland by BrewDog. A shock beer, the brewers warn that it tastes more like a whisky than a normal beer and that while it tastes good (orangey and American hops flavor), the amount of alcohol in this beer will make you feel as though you’ve injected it straight to your veins. What makes this beer unique is that the bottle comes in an actual dead animal. Also the price is substantial at $765/bottle, but when you’re getting a strong beer AND an awesome squirrel. Sounds worth it to me.
4. Sink the Bismarck
The guys from BrewDog strike again with a beer on this list. At 41% ABV, this quadruple IPA checks in at $100/bottle which is a slight bit more reasonable. The name is meant to reference sinking the German battleship, which is appropriate since it took the reign of the World’s Strongest Beer years ago from a German brewery. Yep, this battle is intense. Sink the Bismarck is a thicker beer, frozen four times after receiving 4x the hops to reach this height of ABV. Spicy, fruity and incredibly smooth, this beer lets you enjoy it while you’re getting drunk off it.
5. Struise Black Damnation VI – Messy
Brewed by Des Struise Brouwers in Belgium, Black Damnation sort of gives away the ending right there in its title since too many of these will leave you blacked out praying for help through this damnation that is called a hangover. At least you’ll get there enjoying yourself though, as this beer might be the only one on this list that has a medium head in the glass. Like the others though, because of its 39% ABV, the taste is whole, filling your mouth with deep coffee, liquorice flavor. The malty taste is actually accentuated by the taste of alcohol. A black color, Damnation certainly lives up to its name. If you have a sensitive nose, you’ll catch the alcohol aroma early, but the drink-ability of a beer with this high of a ABV is impressive and delicious.
6. Tactical Nuclear Penguin
This Brewdog concoction weighs in at a respectable 32% ABV but certainly brings it when it comes to taste. At $55 a bottle, even you can twist the cap of this beer which was aged in both spayside and smokehead casks, providing you with a deep fruit, smokey filling beverage. Once opened, you’ll get a whiff of the alcohol in this beer, but you won’t mind it as you begin sipping its slightly thicker body. In some batches you’ll get more toffee, in others, more smoke, but all barrels will provide you with little head and a kick in the rump.
7. Mikkeller (Heavy Black)
This imperial stout brewed out of Denmark bellies up to the bar at 31.1% ABV and can be described rather simply; like delicious engine oil. With the higher ABV, it can be described as though its burnt but rich, providing you with a dark and deep mouthfeelof nuts, coffee and chocolate. Pours black and like many of these other beers, has no head. The best thing about this beer other than its flavor is the fact that you’ll be taking your time to get through its dark, thick taste that you won’t get drunk too quick. But stay alert, this beer reminds me of my African uncle; black as night, intensely intriguing, but sneaks up on you at night like you’re prey. You know, because thats what all Africans do right?
8. Hair of the Dog Dave
This beer might be lower on the list at only 28%, but it is certainly one of the best tasting beers here. Brewed in the United States in Portland, OR, Dave has since been retired, but is a Barley Wine Beer that was a standout. Pours an outstanding deep color with a reddish tint, Dave is a compilation of alcohol, deep aromatics of fruits, leather and caramel malt, with a mouthfill that hides the high ABV. While this beer is easier to drink because of its rich flavor, it will slowly creep up on you towards the end as its full body fills you up. Maybe not a true contender in the race for high alcohol content any longer, but rivals Utopias in enjoyability.
9. Hakusekikan Eisbock
Another beer at 28% ABV, this Eisbock out of Japan isn’t well known, but doesn’t want to be forgotten. Hakusekikan pours just lighter than the rest of the beers on this list and once you dive into it you’ll forget that its a big beer…until you’re halfway through and you realize that this is indeed a beer worth its weight. While the color is less opaque than the others, it still doesn’t produce much head, but pushes out an aroma that hits you hard. The smell of sugar is obvious before your lips even taste the glass. Rather thick, but less complex than you might think, you’ll take in caramel, malt, sugar and fruit as you sip this beer. Mouthfeel is definitive as your taste buds wonder what this rummy, dark sugar beverage is. The high ABV will warm you up, so this beer might be absolutely perfect for those cooler months. But no matter what, this Eisbock shouldn’t be counted out just because its lower on the list.
10. Sam Adams Utopias
A previous contender in this game, Utopias falls way down on the list at only 27% ABV. But don’t let this smaller percentage mess with you, Sam Adams Utopias makes up in taste what it lacks in history making contention. Utopias is a traditional beer and is described as having a fiery taste, which makes it appropriate for this list. What makes this beer special, apart from its $100/bottle pricetag, is that it has been aged in various casks. Sam Adams brews only 3,000 bottles of this stuff, some of them aging for up to 15 years in cognac casks, some in bourbon casks, some in sherry. All this means is that this beer can provide your night with a very warm tummy and your taste buds cheering. Whats the point of drinking beer if you can’t enjoy it?