Along with chocolate and Tintin, the thing that really puts the small country of Belgium on the map is its excellent produce of beer, which has for many years astounded the world with complex varieties from pale ales to red ales, and from lagers to Trappist beers that are brewed in monasteries. We’ve probably all heard of the more famous Hoegaarden, Leffe and Duvel, but it takes a real connoisseur to understand the full range and types of the beers on offer.
So when the months start to draw in and the winter clothes come out, is beer the usual drink for your average Belgian? Well, yes it is, but there is a certain type of beer produced in Belgium for this time of year, that is generally referred to as winter beer, or Christmas beer, and is stronger, maltier and often with hints of spice. Let’s have a quick look at a few to get started with.
Delirium Noel is a strong dark winter ale from Brouwerrij Huyghe, which is made from Belgian malts and yeast. It is quite sweet with hints of banana and citrus.
St-Feuillien Cuvée de Noël comes from the Brasserie St-Feuillien is also a strong ale, but with more aromatic herbs and spices and an overall bitter flavour.
Gouden Carolus Noël is a dark ruby red beer that contains 10.5% alcohol volume. It’s made from three different kinds of hops and six different herbs and spices.
Fantôme de Noël from the Brasserie Fantôme is a very dark beer that’s also high in alcohol. It’s flavoured with honey, caramel, coriander and black pepper to result in a rich and warming beer that is also slightly sour.
Kasteel Winter from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouke N.V., is dark and almost like a stout, with hints of chocolate and dark fruits, but also with a sweet creamy taste.
So if you decide to start your evening off with a trip on the Budapest Beer Bike to get yourself warmed up with some beerbiking, then perhaps finish off with some Belgian winter beers to keep the winter chills out.