The 2018 Flanders Classics is an amazing chance to experience Belgium, a country steeped in history and rich culture. One of the more significant cultural icons that Belgians enjoy so much is something quite unassuming – a drink already savoured by people all over the world: beer. Beer has developed such a complex history and is so revered in Belgium that in 2016 Belgian beer was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
What makes Belgian beer so unique?
Belgian beer has become so well known around the world primarily because of the very unique styles that are native to the region. We thought we’d touch on a few that are far removed from the pale ales and lagers so commonly drunk by fans of beer!
Saisons, the French word for season, is a highly carbonated beer that is both fruity and spicy. Traditionally brewed for seasonal workers, it contained a low alcohol content, but over time the alcohol content has been elevated to that of other Belgian styles.
Lambic beers are another very unique type of beer that are for the most part brewed in Belgium. These beers utilise wild yeasts native to Belgium to create a finished product that is slightly sour and dry flavour profile. Occasionally fruit is added to these brews, a popular one being cherry (resulting in the fruit lambic referred to as Kriek).
Trappist beers, beers produced by Belgian monks are perhaps the most recognisable of the uniquely Belgian beer styles. Dubbels, tripels, strong pale ales and blonde ales are all common styles produced by Trappist monks – these beers are typically high in alcohol and use unique yeast to produce a spicy, fruity and highly complex flavour.
A rich, malty history
Belgium started building a reputation for beer in approximately 12th century as abbeys began brewing beer to raise money for fundraising purposes. This trend has continued today, where monks in monasteries are crafting beers destined to be sold to the public, the profits of which are used to help maintain the monastery. Of the 12 Trappist monasteries in the world, 6 of them exist in Belgium – these are Rochefort, Achel, Chimay, Duvel, Orval and Westmalle, some of which are open to lucky members of the public for tours.
Some of these monasteries, such as Rochefort and Chimay, also produce cheeses, which make ideal pairings for the beer made by the monks!
Experience some of the best beer in the world, today
The Tour of Flanders is an excellent opportunity to taste many of the beers that have ensured Belgium’s incomparable reputation as beer mecca. Get in touch with the team at Mummu to learn more about the upcoming Flanders Classics!