I love Belgian beer
German is stereotypically the land of beer. The Reinheitsgebot, the beer purity laws from the medieval ages, and Oktoberfest are both German and just spread this idea that beer is king in German. And it is, but I like Belgian beer better. The Reinheitsgebot makes sure beer in Germany is up to a specific standard, but it stifles the creativity. Belgian brewers have a more whimsical look at it and I like this. Oh yeah, there was chocolate there too.
A Tasting Journey
On our second day in Brussels we went to a beer tasting at the Spirit of Wallonia(link in French) in the tangled streets of Brussels. Sitting in a quiet courtyard with a bubbling fountain for background music the group was led through three Belgian beers by a guy that knew his beer so well he could joke with it.
The instructions we were given to taste beer were remarkably similar to those given to taste wine. It made me feel like more of a gourmet than I really am. I like beer, but I am quite happy to just take a big gulp and enjoy the tastes across my entire mouth. He had us examining the bubbles and tasting the sweetness and bitterness of the beer.
He also passed around the various ingredients to the beer we were tasting. Both the hops flowers and the various flavoring components. He joked about Pilsners needing young, blond, female, virgin hops to make that beer. That got a snigger out of the group. This is where the funny stuff started coming out. Both from him and us.
Getting Goofy with Beer
I like the goofy self-portraits. Why not? They are fun. And despite the high-brow nature of swirling sips of beer in our mouth, it was fun. So I started taking pictures of me with the beer. Here are the three we were given to try.
The details of each beer come from Ali’s notes. I wasn’t so much paying attention to the details.
Me and Moinette: 8.5% though it was sweet enough that I didn’t notice the high alcohol. It felt light though not like a Pils at all.
Me and Chimay: 9% and again sweet enough to not hit you so hard on the palate. I liked this one the best of the three, though I have had it before in the US even. Chimay is a Trappist beer from one of the Belgian brewing monks.
Me and Bush: So the last beer was called Bush, no relation to the college style swill in the US. So the glass didn’t match oddly enough. This was the highest alcohol at 12%, but I still didn’t notice. This good perhaps have been because it was the third in the row, but still quite good.
Beer and Chocolate
So the last aspect of this tasting that just made it tops was the chocolate. Just as you pair wine with food, our beer-guide led us through pairing chocolates with beer. Such a Belgian thing somehow, though I forgot to ask what goes with Waffles or Frites.
Sweet beers should be paired with bitter chocolates. Each mellows some aspects of the other and fills out the flavor. So in reverse a more bitter beer should be paired with a sweeter milk chocolate to reduce that bitter edge. This was a fun thing to play with. And since there was a plate of both chocolates available i tried sweet chocolate and bitter with all three beers. I did notice that the sweeter chocolate helped mellow the bitterness of the sharper beers. Maybe I didn’t notice the alcohol content so much due to this.
Belgium Is Beer
I still enjoy German beer. I tend toward the darker richer ones though. A Pilsner is nice one a hot day, but otherwise not such my favorite. But give me a Belgian Beer any day. I quite like the creativity of it.
Even beyond the one we tried that had orange peel and coriander in it, they get wild. Kriek and Lambiq are fruit flavored Belgian beers. On the last day, we had lunch in the Comic Museum. I had meatballs in a cherry beer sauce. It was tasty and nice. This is why I love Belgian Beer.
We were in Brussels as guests of the Belgian Tourismus, but of course all of the opinions, photos and quirky observations are my own making.
October 8, 2013 @ 9:59 pm
I have now read yours & Ali’s posts and am thoroughly excited about trying this for myself. Hopefully we will be visiting Brussels in the near future and chocolate and beer will be mine! Thanks for sharing the foodie/drinkie love.
October 13, 2013 @ 8:54 pm
Yup, the beer there is really top. If you go while are in Berlin and are going to be lugging stuff back, I might make an order.
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July 2, 2013 @ 9:35 am
[…] really like Belgium for its beer. I was fascinated by the brewery and the process for making this traditional style of beer. Even […]
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June 19, 2013 @ 2:59 pm
[…] I like that Germany is the land of beer, it can often lack the creativity of beer flavors that the Belgian style of brewers has embraced. This tasting row definitely had that […]
Struggling to Get Back Into Traveling - Grounded Traveler
May 13, 2013 @ 10:52 pm
[…] I like beer. I do remember the first few times I drank though. It was exciting and one beer got me tipsy and still made me sick the next day. After a while, I learned how to slow down and enjoy the beer. It didn’t make me sick and I had enough tolerance so a single sip didn’t push me over the edge. Every so often though, I get times when I don’t drink again for a couple of months. When I have my first beer after that time, it feels like I need to relearn it all over again. […]
October 28, 2012 @ 11:03 am
Yes ! Each beer has her glass ! Don’t drink a beer in a other glass 🙂
October 28, 2012 @ 3:43 pm
Ah.. i see you did find the Belgian beer post. Good. Yeah, though mostly it is the shape of the glass that is important, not the name on the side.
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October 19, 2012 @ 8:00 am
[…] and Belgium is known for a great many things. A lot of them are food related. Belgian Chocolate and Belgian Beer are certainly well known, and for good reasons. Even what we call “french fries” […]
The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)
October 9, 2012 @ 4:41 am
Mmm… this makes me want a good beer so badly! I generally like European beers — Chimay is probably my favorite — but I’ve gotta say, craft breweries in New England make the absolute best beer in the world! If we’re both back in the US at the same time, we’ll have to introduce you guys to some of our beers. In the meantime, we’re stuck here in China with not-so-great beers while you’re living the life in Europe! Though we did enjoy a very expensive Chimay this week in Beijing (it was for a birthday!). Cheers!
October 14, 2012 @ 1:21 pm
I like the small breweries too. We had a brewery restaurant in Raleigh that was great until it burned down. I will definitely take you up on seeing more craft beers in New England. Sorry that China is not such the beer place. Asia seems more of a rice than a wheat culture, which probably has a lot to do with it.
October 2, 2012 @ 5:24 pm
Looking at that beer just about brought tears to my eye… wonderful stuff – you’re pretty lucky lol
October 7, 2012 @ 9:54 pm
Thanks. It really was tasty. Just need to head back or find an importer.
October 1, 2012 @ 4:37 pm
I am not a beer connoisseur at all. However, I’ve heard that Belgians (like Czechs) have a good reputation for beer. When I get to Belgium, I will definitely have to try it. I think I would like chimay the best based on the descriptions. I would definitely enjoy the chocolate!
October 7, 2012 @ 9:55 pm
The Chimay was very tasty. I have seen it in the States, at least in NC in some form, so you can try it if you want. The chocolate though may be more difficult to find.
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September 30, 2012 @ 7:06 am
[…] in Belgium? The latter sounds pretty awesome to me. Andrew of Grounded Traveler talks about taking part in this type of tasty pairing plus trying other Belgian […]
September 30, 2012 @ 6:00 am
A beer and chocolate pairing sounds AWESOME.
October 7, 2012 @ 9:55 pm
It seriously was. Totally and utterly awesome.
September 29, 2012 @ 2:49 pm
Most Americans I know prefer Belgian beer. Too bad it’s so hard to find in Germany. (I am not much of a beer drinker so I don’t care either way.)
October 7, 2012 @ 9:56 pm
I would love to find some imported from Belgium. I have found plenty of Czech beer imported, but not yet Belgian.
Belgium and Chocolate - Grounded Traveler
September 29, 2012 @ 2:46 pm
[…] lest you think chocolate is only a dessert or snack, we were given chocolate during our beer tasting as well. Certain beers are paired with certain chocolates where in the bitterness of one helps […]