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Brew-tastic! All About Belgian Beer

Beer is to Belgium as wine is to France! Belgium may be a small country, relatively speaking but their renowned specialty beers reign large both in Belgian culture and among beer lovers worldwide. Passionate about their brews, Belgian locals enjoy it on its own or thoughtfully paired with complementary food. Not to be taken lightly, many beers have a unique glass, exclusive to that brew and customized to enhance its flavors.

The country's beer-making history can be traced back to the Middle Ages when abbeys brewed and sold beer as a means of raising money. Today there are an estimated 100 breweries with over 600 varieties produced. The many styles range from highly specialized small-batch beers to large-production ales. In a nod to the acclaim and quality of Belgian beer, many producers outside of the country brew their own Belgian style beer with terrific success.

Popular Belgian beer styles include:

Trappist Ales: Dark ales such as Chimays are brewed under strict guidelines certifying the production took place in a monastery by monks according to traditional methods. Currently, six Belgian monasteries are certified.

Abbey Ales: Produced with some monastic involvement under a specific set of guidelines. These ales, which include Van Steenberge, are often similar in style to a Trappist beer.

Amber Ale: Similar to an English pale ale. Admired amber ale brews include Palm Speciale from Belgium, and Fat Tire from the U.S.

Blonde Ale: Similar to a light pale ale using pilsner malt. Duvel is a popular example of this style beer.

Brown (Brune) Beer: Darker than amber ales. Global favorites include Petrus Speciale and Winterbier.

Lambic: A unique wheat beer fermented with wild yeast and given a longer aging period. Gueuze, fruit lambic, and faro are the three subclasses of this beer. Fruit lambic includes the addition of fruit or fruit concentrate, as in Lindeman's Framboise.

Saison: A low-alcohol seasonal pale ale traditionally produced in farmhouses in southern Belgium. Today, many American made Saison-style beers like Ommegang Hennepin are available and growing in popularity around the globe.

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