Friday, December 16, 2005

Belgian beers

It's almost ludicrous to describe a beer as a "Belgian," because that little country pumps out over two hundred styles of beer. There are mass market lagers (Stella Artois, Jupiler), the famed trappist ales (Orval, Duvel), lambics (Lindemann's Kriek, Gueze, et. al), red beers, etc.

Belgian beers are idiosyncratic, often sweet and somewhat musty in flavor. Because the brewers of Belgium use very iconoclastic strains of yeast (in some cases, just wild yeast from the air), it is very difficult to reproduce the flavor of ANY Belgian beers in North America, except maybe Stella.

Breweries like Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY and Montreal's Unibroue come reasonably close, and their Belgians are well crfted and enjoyable. Blue Moon is a piss-poor mockery of Hoegaarden Belgian White ale. If you like it, enjoy it by all means, but it's about as similar to a Belgian white as I am to the Queen of Serbia. -Mark

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