Belgian Monks Make Great Beer

Sunday, January 20, 2013

All those that love good beer have at one point or another had a Belgian brew and each of you will have a different story to tell. For me, the first one I had was a slightly sweet, heavily hopped but balanced brew with so many flavors I can neither remember its name or even half of its numerous complexities. Each and every brew is different and this style has a very old and very alcoholic history. Find out more about this nectar of the monks after the jump.



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Belgian Beers are Not Just Trappist. A Belgian beer is simply one from Belgium! There are many styles that come out of there and old traditions that dictate them, however, in America what we usually call a Belgian beer is either an Abbey or Trappist-style Ale. Trappist just means it was brewed in one of the few "sanctioned" Trappist monasteries. Sort of like how "true" bourbon only comes from one county in Kentucky - it's trivial but important to old people that these traditions aren't changed. Outside of the Abbey/Trappist beers there are loads of other styles, from blonde to flemish reds, and you can read more about them here.

Abbey Brews tend to be stronger, range from slightly-sweet to sweet and often have a wide range of fruit and earthy notes to them. These brews were concocted by the monastic monks and sold for profit of the monastery way back when these things happened, in like, medieval times or something. The stronger ales were usually made from the first runnings of a large grain bill, with the second and third runnings being used for small beers and regular strength ales and the spent mash most likely being used for other things like bread, flour and cookies! You can read a little bit more about that in our post about Parti-Gyle Style.

Here in the States the styles we most commonly see with the Belgian name on them are; Dubbels, Tripels, Goldens and Lambics. Of the four I usually default to Dubbels as they are strong, slightly sweet and if made correctly, extremely delicious and complex. You may have your preferences and default breweries but what I like to do best is make my own! There are loads of recipes out there for good Belgian abbey-style beers, all you need to make them is a little extra patience and cash (big grain bill ahoy!). If you wait them out and let them age for at least six months, you will really see some amazing results.

Cheers-

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