Beer In Belgium

Belgium has a long and rich brewing tradition. It is a country the size of Maryland, but brews 700-800 different labels! It is a part of their culture and there are many things that make Belgian beers unique:
Almost all beers are served in their own, specially designed glasses to optimize their taste.
 
They are incredibly diverse and have a lot of different ways of producing beers (spontaneously fermented, second fermentation, etc.).
Towns throughout the country have their famous beer pubs, with storied histories and a huge variety of offerings.
There are lots of specialty beer shops and festivals. Belgian beers are commonly found in wired and corked like champagne bottles (making them good presents).
By the way, Belgium is the home of the largest brewery in the world, InBev. You may have heard of them a couple of years ago when they bought a little company called Anheuser-Busch that makes Budweiser.
 
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Ladies (And Gents) Love The Lambic

Lambic beers are a unique to Belgium and different from most other beers.  Lambic‘s fermentation is caused by exposure to native, wild, airborne yeasts and bacteria.  As a result, it is strongly tied to its place of brewing.  It undergoes a relatively long period of aging of up to 2-3 years.
There are several different types of Lambic beers.  They include:
Faro – light, sweet from the added sugars, low on alcohol
Fruits – flavors include: Framboise (rasberry), casis (black currant), kreik (cherries) and peche (peach).  They are often sweet, fruity and the flavors remind you a bit of Jolly Ranchers.  Mort Subite and Belle-Vue are probably the best known and most easily accessible of these.
Gueze – golden to light, amber, sour, acidic, rarely bitter, sometimes harsh with a champagne like sparkle.
Muscat – made from grapes and more like wine.
Lambics may not be our American Neighbor’s sort of thing (his everyday beer is Budweiser and I’m not lying about the everyday part).  Even if you don’t want to drink them everyday can really compliment a food, be fun to taste, or a nice change of pace.

 

 

Beer Tours – If You Want To Improve Yours, Just Ask Us?

We’ve had a beer or two on our day and have been on a few brewery tours. While we were in Copenhagen, we toured Carlsberg.
Carlsburg had several things going for it.  It has decent beer (sorry Heineken). It has a nice campus. It has a decent place to sit and drink your free beers.  One of the best parts of the tour was the Guinness (ironic) Book of Records certified world’s largest collection of unopened beer bottles (currently +/- 20,000). The other nice part was the history of the company and it’s role in Danish society.
Sorry, I couldn’t fit them all in. Not even close.
They have a copy of The Little Mermaid Statue. The family commissioned the one in the harbor.  You get to see a bunch of old machinery and, like the Budweiser tour, there are stables with horses (no horses in the stables on the Heineken tour).
 

Several things go into making a good tour.  We enjoy a tour and here are some easy ways to make a factory/product tour better:

  • Show funny old commercials. Even ones that the suits setting up the tour don’t think are funny.
  • Have a location with a view.  Look out over mountains, the sea, the city, even a garden. Guinness does a good job with this.  Their Gravity Bar has the best view of Dublin.
The second best part of the Guinness tour
  • Provide plenty of silly photo ops.
  • Try not to be as obvious about making it a giant commercial for your product. Yes, Guinness Tour I am talking to you. Miller, please pay attention as well.  World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, you might be a lost cause.
  • Have knowledgeable people who can actually answer questions about the product. Olde Mecklenburg, Thomas Creek and lots of American microbrews do this well.
  • If at all possible, try to show production.  We eat it up. I’m not sure if you can still do it, but you used to be able to do this at Yuengling and some of the Milwaukee breweries.