In the past, I’ve shared about Belgian culture – some of the good or interesting products that come out of the land I now reside in. Most know Belgium as the land of wafels, chocolate, fries and beer. And, in true form to the small things of life that I enjoy, I posted an article about the beer here in Belgium, and particularly one of my favourite beers coming out of the Chimay Abbey.
Ever since I realised there were a lot of beers in Belgium – over 600 of them – I thought it might be interesting to try as many as I can in my time here. I don’t search out a new beer to try each and every week. And most of the time I simply stick with my favourites – Maredsous, Leffe, Chimay. But over the 4 years that I’ve now been here, I’ve had the privilege to try about 40 or so of the varying kinds of beer. I also tend to collect a bottle of each new one I try.
And, so, yesterday was a venture in trying 3 new beers that I’ve not yet had.
The first was with my lunch. With 2 weeks of holiday, one in Belgium and one to come in Turkey, my family and I took a day-trip out to the beautiful and historic city of Brugge yesterday. We had a nice Belgian lunch together in the main square of the city and also enjoyed walking the streets of the historic city. With our lunch, I had my first Bruge zots blonde beer. Nothing overly special, at least compared with the plethora of Belgian beers available. And I do tend to enjoy the brown, darker beers over the blond beers. But, as I would have expected, I enjoyed the beer along with my tasty Stoofvlees and frieten meal – stoofvlees is a Flemish specialty of very tender meat that has been cooked in a beer-based, sweet, brown gravy sauce. Frieten is simply the Dutch word for fries.
The second new beer I tried was the Waterloo dark brown. Actually, I was already aware of the Waterloo brand. And I was even aware of its unique glass (the only ceramic chalice available). But yesterday, while in Brugge, I bought one of the Waterloo beers and its glass. I mean look at that beautiful chalice (see picture at the top of this post)! And to remind you, in Belgium, it’s kind of a rule that each producer of beer carry their own particular glass for their beers. You’re supposed to pour the right beer into the right beer glass…no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Thus, any Waterloo beer (which there aren’t many) goes into the nice ceramic chalice. And now I own one myself! And it’s on display as well!
It’s also interesting to note that the Waterloo dark brown beer is 8.5% alcohol. That is a relatively strong beer. But not so strong in Belgium, existing in the middle. Normally, most start around 5 or 6% alcohol content. But they can head all the way up 13%!
And that comes as a good transition into the final new beer I had yesterday. The highest alcohol percentage to date for me had been 11%. But yesterday I bought a Bush Amber beer (no, not the American Busch beer), and it rang in at 12%.
The interesting thing to note about Belgian beers is that, the higher the alcohol content, the sweeter they taste. And that isn’t always nice for me. It can almost leave you smacking your lips and tongue to get the extra sugars out. But this one actually wasn’t as bad. It tasted sweeter, but it didn’t seem to leave too many of the sugars behind.
Thus, yesterday was a nice little part of some holiday time together with my family – a trip to Brugge, a tasty (or lekkere) Belgian meal, three new Belgian beers to taste, and a nice little gift of a Waterloo chalice. Now, off to Turkey on Wednesday for a week at the beach!