Sunday, December 03, 2006
I tasted a few different Belgian ales while living in the states. Local stores had a few of the more well known ales in stock (Chimay and Duvel).
Our trip to Brussels was a chance to find some less known and hopefully more exciting brews from small family breweries.
After our trip to Bruges, Danielle was in dire need of a nap (editors note: Danielle is napping at this exact moment in time), so I decided to head down to the hotel bar with a book and a Partagas SD#4.
I talked to the bartender for a few moments about local beers and such and he pulled a Tripel Karmeliet from one of the fridges.
"Try this one. If you don't like it, I will pour a different beer for you and you will not have to pay for it," said the bartender.
An offer like this is not one to refuse, at worst you end up eating a nice pile of olives to mask the flavor of bad beer.
This brew is a bit of a darker malty ale and went down very smoothly and paired well with a few olives.
I also discovered a nice surprise at our restaurant this same evening. They had Jenever on the drinks menu. Jenever is the national spirit of Belgium and started out as a spirit distilled from rainwater. The rainwater was ditched in favor of treated water during the plague years.
Jenever has a nice floral/herby flavor and is best served cold like Sake, Vodka and Gin. Generally I think of it as a cross between Sake and Gin.
The next night led to the moment of the trip for me, Beer Mania. BM is THE place to go for beer in Belgium. It is a very comfy spot with a lovable drunken dog and a great staff.
The back of the store contains some nice wooden tables and a huge wooden bar. The staff will pour beers to your taste. I really enjoy bright and hoppy beers, so he poured a Bink Blonde for me. This was dead on my sort of beer. No chemical tastes. Just a smooth bright beer flows down nicely and leaves a tingle in your mouth.
Danielle likes a more malty beer, so the staff poured her a Mea Culpa, which was created by the owner of BM. She really enjoyed this beer and said it was exactly what she wanted as well, plus the glass is beautiful.
Next we wanted to try a lambic and we wanted to try it in its raw state (no sugar added). They poured a nice bottle of Girardin Kriek. Kriek is a cherry lambic and this brand was light, crisp and very tasty. Danielle, who is usually a very slow drinker, managed to polish off her glass and part of mine very quickly.
On your next trip to Belgium, take my advice and visit Beer Mania first. This will give you the lay of the beer land and make the remainder of your dinners much easier as you will have idea of what beers will go well with your next meal.