Belgium beer is one of the most varied collections of beer in the world. Beer making in Belgium has its origins in the Middle Ages when monasteries produced beer. Belgian beer often has a higher alcohol content than other beers. This is due to a law that prohibited the sale of spirits in pubs, causing them to make beer with higher alcohol content so they would no longer be classified as spirits. The law was lifted in 1983; however, many breweries still produce beer with an alcohol content between 6% – 8%.
Beer experts have a high esteem for Belgian beer. There are 125 breweries that produce about 500 different types of standard beer.
Trappist beer is a top-fermented beer, which is brewed at a monastery. In order to qualify as a Trappist beer the entire brewing process must be overseen by or carried out by Trappist monks on the monastery site. There are only 6 monasteries in Belgium, which qualify for this categorization.
Lambic beer is unique to Belgium. It is produced using spontaneous fermentation using wild yeasts, which are found in abundance near Brussels. This is the only beer to be produced this way. The fermentation process takes place over a rather long period of time, from 3 – 6 months for some to over 2 or 3 years for others.
Fruit beers are a variation of Lambic beer. Fruit beers are made by adding fruit or fruit concentrate to Lambic beer. The most common type is Kriek, which is made with cherries. Other common fruits used are raspberry, peach and black currant. The fruit is used to trigger a second fermentation in the brew.
White beer is made with wheat hops and contains spices. Typically it is made with orange peel and coriander and is often served with a slice of lemon. Flemish Red is a strong fruity beer that is a reddish brown color. Other Belgian beers include Dubbel, Tripel, Blond, Brown and Amber. Each has its own specific brewing method and ingredients which cause a distinct flavor. Each type of beer has its own specially shaped glass. The Belgian pubs are called cafes, and they use these beautiful different glasses.