The 12 best Belgian beers (and another 1,200 to try)


Neither more nor less than 788 breweries had the city ​​of Leuven just a century ago. I must admit that I did not know that importance of beer in Belgium until I passed through this university capital and that they are famous throughout the world for their excellent quality and variety and, above all, becausethe best Belgian beers are exclusive, unique in their brewing types and without brand limits for their creation. Do you want to know what they are?

We tell you all about the Belgian beer and we list the 12 that we consider you should try yes or yes in addition to some idea for you to look for your own favorite craft.

Keys that differentiate Belgian beer from other known

Surely you wonder why Belgian beer is so famous. What if we tell you that already in the 11th century, beer was brewed in Belgium (even without being an independent country) and that brewer's guilds began to exist in Bruges, Liege or Brussels from the 14th century.? But, how they differ today from the famous Czech Republic or Germany

The keys to understanding the difference between beers are basically in the ingredients and in the fermentation. The majority of beers have barley as their main ingredient although there are malt and wheat, water, hops and yeast and it is carried strictly. Belgium has opted for a different type of beer, special and experimental, where fruits, vegetables, herbs and even different sugars take center stage. Another great difference is the temperature of fermentation where Pilsen or Lager use low temperatures and here it is betting even on the exponential fermentation that introduces bacteria (up to 86 species) getting the same effect of "eating" the sugar obtaining acidic beers

And where does that take us? 180 breweries, from large industrial and internationally known formats to small artisans that provide an experience for the traveler to give a total of more than 1200 original Belgian beers! for consider a beer route as proposed by the official website of Flanders Tourism.

Ale, Lager, Pilsen? Ale are high fermentation beers (such as Stout or Porter). The Lager are perhaps the best known in Spain, with low fermentation, and where the Pilsen, Munich or Vienna enter. And where are the Belgians? In addition to Ales roasted, golden, red, the Trappists or Abbey, the Lambic spontaneous fermentation of the Brussels area and the experimental and special regional uncatalogued would be the most common

The 12 best Belgian beers you should try on your trip

Do you want to know what Belgian beers we consider essential to try on your trip and that they will not go unnoticed in your tasting? (Of course, any beer classification is absolutely subjective and based on my tastes)

1. Stella Artois

Definitely, the most famous Belgian beer in the world, a typical European lager from the newly visited Leuven.

Perhaps it is not ideal if you want to experiment with the dozens of special possibilities offered by the country but do not doubt that you will end up taking one since if you do not ask for one in particular, you may end up putting one on the table

2. Duvel

An Ale with a certain bitterness and with a lot of foam I loved it!

It is very soft, golden color, but still has 8.5 degrees of alcohol

3. Petrus

It is a Belgian beer from Brouwerij de Brabandere in Sour Ale style, aged with oak and that is certainly acidic or even with a certain champange flavor

It is spontaneous fermentation and He has received numerous awards in 2012. Without a doubt, I would try it because it is very different and refreshing

4. Gouden Carolus

Other classic flamenco beer that was in all the bars and restaurants of Mechelen during my view, since it would originate from there

It is dark brown, with an 8º graduation of alcohol, and is somewhat bitter with a fruity background. I liked.

5. Brugs Tarwebier

It is a soft Belgian beer with spicy yeast, wheat aroma and also something fruity

It is very light, low in graduation, although with a touch of acidity based on coriander that, although I don't usually get excited, in a beer it seemed original and refreshing.

6. Chimay

You could not miss in this selection a beer listed as one of the best in the world, produced by the Trappist monks

Actually, as in the rest of the selection, there are different varieties, but we always talk about the main one. In this case it is the Red Chimay of 7º of alcohol or the Blue Chimay of 9º of alcohol, both very fruity, being the first copper-colored and with nutmeg essence and the second thicker and bitter, brown. Try both!

7. Vlier Carrousel

My great discovery of this trip, in a craft brewery a few kilometers from Leuven and born of the passion of a brewer of the lifelong

It is a blonde or even orange and bubbly beer, even with a certain resemblance to a wine. It is very very light and for me, without a doubt, it was the experimental beer that I liked the most Until now.

8. Delvaux

Another Belgian beer with a high load of alcohol (8.5º) and floral aroma, made with carefully chosen hops and fruit-flavored yeast

This combination gives rise to one of the favorites for many, also blonde, with a certain abuse of citrus. It is not the one that moved me the most but I admit that it's different and I would try it

9. Hof ten Dormaa Inferno

Another really experimental beer born of a curious story January 6, 2015, when the Hof ten Dormaal brewery was completely destroyed by a fire. Even so there was beer that was saved and decided to dedicate months to make this limited edition

10º of alcohol, smoke and coal mixed with cherries and berries and a strange mixture of bitter and sweet taste give rise to one of the strangest beers I've ever tasted.

10. Hoegaarden

I could not miss this list Belgian wheat beer par excellence, orange and without too much foam (they call it white beer)

If you are looking for a refreshing, simple beer, of the pilsner type and fruity tones with only 5º of alcohol, this is yours. You will be sure

11. Orval

The one they say is one of the most special Belgian beers among the Trappists, with a very particular smell due to hops and 6.2º of alcohol. It is orange

This beer keeps a very particular visit and is that it is the only one made in one of those essential places on your route, the Abbey of Orval, so do not hesitate to include it in your itinerary.

12. Pauwel Kwak

We finish the list with another one of great graduation of alcohol (8.4º), of amber color and certain malt aroma and fruit mixed with cilatro and even banana. But the most special is ...

... that is served with a peculiar alchemist-type glass fastened with a wooden stand. Without a doubt, an experience

And 1200 brands and types of Belgian beer more

If what you want is to ask yourself a beer route also based on photogenic stops along the way, in Belgium you will have tens of hundreds of options because more than 1,200 brands are created

And are there more abbeys? !Many! Notre-Dame de Leffe, Val-Dieu, Floreffe de Notre-Dame de Saint Rémy, Maredsous,…

Visit to a Belgian craft brewery

The bike allows me tour the surroundings of Leuven until you reach a Belgian craft brewery (+ see location) that stands out in recent years. It's about theBrouwerij De Vlier Where Marc receives us.

Marc makes his life from beer (and his beer from what we see, hehe). Blondes, normal, amber, black… Every year he dedicates hours and hours to its brewery but far beyond its elaboration, to its scientific phase, where in a meticulous way and without errors, it analyzes each new ingredient that it will incorporate

The De Vlier brewery, Marc's passion, already has several types of Belgian beer series bottled on a regular basis, including some of the champange type, smoked or even small special editions for whom it is requested

All this achieved thanks to 3 phases of fermentation, from a first with "low" yeast as pilsen, the second with lactobacilli (as with yogurt) and a final "champange" yeast to close the bottle. The result is 3 "aperitif" beers and several seasonal beers like the Holsbeekse Lentetripel (in spring), the Caroussel (in summer, the one I liked the most) and the Christmas Special for winters. And which one is Marc's favorite? In the end we get him to admit it even though he feels proud of the Elber, smoked from malt. The ones he likes the most are the Blonde, the Caroussel and the Lentetripel

We left the De Vlier brewery having enjoyed an excellent tasting. The return to Leuven becomes, if possible, something harder (haha).Would you dare to make a route like that too? If so you just have to decide the city or area of ​​Belgium for which you would like to start and go through its bars and breweries discovering the best Belgian beers. Of course, book your hotel in advance although if you prefer to improvise the route or you have spent with the beer in that incredible craft brewery that you have discovered, it is recommended that you download a hotel app like HotelsCombined (one of our latest great discoveries), with which you can find accommodation near your location quickly and safely. And with such a route, everything must be planned!

Isaac, discovering Belgian beer (Belgium)