In concert with Anywhere Anytime Journeys’ Destination of the Month, this week’s Trivia Thursday will tantalize your taste-buds with a countdown of what makes Belgian Beer unique.
#10 – In West Flanders, more specifically in the Westhoek region and in the region around Poperinge, you will still find several hop gardens. In recent decades, the number of hop fields has dwindled to about 160 hectares. Beers that use Belgian hops bear the round quality label featuring a stylized hop cone (www.belgischehop.be). A small quantity of hops is still grown in the region around Asse and Aalst, albeit for hop shoots (a Belgian delicacy) and decorative purposes.
#9 – The centuries-old Flemish tradition of beer-based dishes. Compared with other countries, Belgian cuisine has a lot of dishes that use beer as an ingredient, and beer is often presented as the best pairing option for gourmet meals. New initiatives, which have met with a positive reception, focus on the combination of beer and cheese or beer and chocolate. “Bapas”, or small appetizers inspired by the Spanish tapas, have been created, which pair well with specialty beers. In some cases, beer was even used an ingredient.
#8 – The fact that every beer has its own glass. Nowhere in the world will you find such a variety of branded glasses.
#7 – The pioneering role that AB InBev played in putting Belgian beer on the world map.
#6 – The inclusion of Belgian beer culture in the Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Flanders as a first step towards a potential UNESCO heritage listing.
#5 – The wide spectrum of passionate beer brewers, including global and national breweries, as well as small (family-owned) breweries, and several passionate home brewers.
#4 – Beer such as Trappist beers, abbey beers, lambic beers (geuze, faro, kriek), reddish-brown beers, “speciale belge”, “bière brut”, and wood-aged, fruit beers are a unique Belgian specialty. These beers are seducing increasingly more Belgian and international beer lovers alike. They are also increasingly imitated abroad, although the authentic Belgian beers are widely considered to be the beer reference par excellence.
#3 – The tradition that has been handed down over the centuries from generation to generation. A good example of this is the Belgian Family Brewers label of origin (www.belgianfamilybrewers.be). The members of this association have all been brewing beer in Belgium uninterruptedly for at least fifty years. The beers that bear this logo have to be unique and may not be sold under another brand name. These beers represent a combined total of over 1,500 years of experience in beer brewing.
#2 – The great variety of the brewing processes, the ingredients, and the taste profiles.
#1 – The quality and the ground-breaking craftsmanship. These ensure that Belgian brewers regularly win awards in international competitions. For example, the renowned American website, www.ratebeer.com, recently honored Westvleteren with the title of world’s best beer for the second year in a row. But other beers also regularly win prizes.
If you desire to travel to Flanders and experience these unique traits for yourself, check out this offer! Or, if you simply want more information, stop by our Downtown Rantoul office to pick up an official “Belgian Beer Experiences in Flanders & Brussels” guide.