World Food Spot 8: Belgian Beer

on Saturday, November 17, 2007

Beer. There is something special about this amber fluid, this liquid gold with its thirst-quenching and revitalising qualities. It is arguably, the world's oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage and drinking it is like drinking in history. Written records of beer date it back 6,000 years BC in Egypt while chemical evidence of beer production exists for as far back as 3,500 years BC.

For the benefit of tea-totalers and wine-sipping gentry, beer is basically a drink produced by the fermentation of a starch-based substance (most often malted barley) using yeast. However, the history of beer making is a fascinating one in which the process evolved with time and there were some distinct innovations. The use of hops (Humulus lupulus) to flavor the brew during fermentation and different fermentation techniques like top fermentation and bottom fermentation were some of these innovations.

However, the characteristics and personality of a beer can be made so different and unique by the choice of the starch-based substrate, the choice of yeast used, the fermentation process and temperatures, the addition of flavoring agents like hops or fruits, the use of clarifying substances and even the nature of the water used. In this way, each brewery can make a beer unique to itself.

I am sorry to say that North American beer is pretty weak and dilute. Many say that the Czech beers like Pilsner Urquell lager are the best in the world. I have indeed tried this and it is very good but I find it hard to say that one is the best beer. Instead, I enjoy the wide range of tastes, flavours and textures of beers and that is why I have to recommend Belgian Beers.

There is no other place in the world that you can sample so many varieties of locally brewed beer. How many, you ask? I do not know other than it is in the excess of 750 varieties. Many of them have a long history and many are brewed by monks in monasteries.

Okay, why do I like beer so much. Could it be the smooth way that it flows down the throat? Could it be the fruity or alternatively rich bitter flavour? Could it be its ability to quech the thirst and to hit the spot? Could it be its beautiful golden and amber colour or alternatively its rich and dark tones? Could it be its coolness or the thickness of its head of foam? Could it be that warm feeling that radiates through your body after you drink it? Yes! Yes to all of the above ........and Belgium is the place to try it.





All photos sipped from Belgian Beer, a wonderful blog dedicated just for Belgian Beer for serious scholars or drinkers.

This is my favorite amongst the readily available commercial beer brands.

20 comments:

...Kat said...

CHIMAY is wonderful

Janice Thomson said...

I dislike the taste of beer intensely. However on a very hot day I have had a shandy (beer and seven-up) which I must admit does quench the thirst.

leslie said...

Well, I have to confess that after drinking too much beer one night during my immature university days and throwing it all up on the way back to the dorms, I can't even stand the smell of beer. But to each his own. Oh! and congrats on the latest award!

MedStudentWife said...

yuummmmyyy.... beeeerrr iiiisssss gggooooooodddd (Homer Simpson imitation)

Especially with crunchy crustaceans :D

I like the darker types, but a good lime and lager is good on a hot day and nothing like a "bullseye" for those morning afters, when one is a little fuzzy and can't quite manage food - yet

riseoutofme said...

Ah, Stella Artois .... hmmmm ...

Open Grove Claudia said...

I secretly drink Coors Light - brewed about 10 miles from my house. It gets really cold - mmmm. But drink Harp with my Red Breast when we're out because who wants to admit to drinking Coors light? right? You won't tell will you?

Cheryl said...

Hi LGS...
I'm not much of a beer drinker. My favorite is probably Killian's and one will do it for me. Pitiful, huh? I never knew Belgium was such a beer mecca.

meggie said...

Nothing wrong with a good beer!

Nectar of the Gods, as the Aussies like to say!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

kat,
so you also know about Belgian beers on top of all your other interests! Do you get Chimay in the States?

janice,
Perhaps you just haven't been introduced to a great beer.

leslie,
Well, I can understand your dislike for beer but that is an unfortunate incident.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

msw,
No kidding. It does go well with crunchy crustaceans!

riseoutofme,
Preaching to the choir? Another Stella Artois fan?

claudia,
Well, some people argue over which is the best beer. I do have my favorites but I think the type of beer fits the occasion and Coors Light does hit the spot sometimes.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

cheryl,
I am not a big drinker either. The most I would have is about 3 pints or bottles. I usually stop at one too. I enjoy beer but I do not enjoy being drunk. I am one of those who become melancholic when drunk.

meggie,
Well, the Aussies are another major world power when it comes to consuming beer!

HeiressChild said...

i never liked the taste of beer. my husband liked german beer or perhaps i should say beer from germany. don't know if it's the same thing.

Proxima Blue said...

Yeah!
What? need I say more?
-P

Claire said...

I'm a bad Italian. I don't care for wine, but I love beer. My fav is St.Pauli Girl. Yum

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

sylvia,
I should have known that beer would not be a favorite amongst female readers! German beer is good! Also quite strong. I have a story about German beer and myself which I will post sometime.

proxima,
You could say, "Cheers!" or "Bottom's up". :)

claire,
An interesting historical point. At one time beer and wine were equally popular in Europe until there was some disease that almost wiped off all the vineyards. Immediately after that, wine became a rarity and because it was a rarity, it gained popularity amongst the upper classes. Anyone can drink beer because it is plentiful but you had to be rich to drink wine. So wine became the drink of the genteel society.
I don't know about being a bad Italian .....I think that would only happen if you don't like pasta. I am not familiar with the beer you named. Where is it from? Is it a dark or light colored beer, served at room temperature or cold?

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

sylvia,
I should have known that beer would not be a favorite amongst female readers! German beer is good! Also quite strong. I have a story about German beer and myself which I will post sometime.

proxima,
You could say, "Cheers!" or "Bottom's up". :)

claire,
An interesting historical point. At one time beer and wine were equally popular in Europe until there was some disease that almost wiped off all the vineyards. Immediately after that, wine became a rarity and because it was a rarity, it gained popularity amongst the upper classes. Anyone can drink beer because it is plentiful but you had to be rich to drink wine. So wine became the drink of the genteel society.
I don't know about being a bad Italian .....I think that would only happen if you don't like pasta. I am not familiar with the beer you named. Where is it from? Is it a dark or light colored beer, served at room temperature or cold?

kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

I must admit, there are few things as lovely as a bottle of Belgium's cherry "Belle-Vue Kriek" beer with a dark chocolate bar. Mmmm.

And don't give up on North American beers -- most of the mass produced stuff is absolute swill, but some of the microbreweries make great beers, like Granville Island's Maple Ale. Also, mmmmm.

Andreea said...

thanks for linking to my belgian beers :)
gave me the chance to discover your blog as well!
greetings from ... well, belgium!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

kimber,
thanks for the tip on Maple Ale.

Andreea,
Thanks for visiting. I enjoy your blog but having only recently discovered it, I have yet to read more about the beers. Of course, reading about it is not as satisfying as sampling it. Cheers.

...Kat said...

sorry I haven't been back here sooner to answer... yes we get Chimay here in Georgia now ....laws were changed in Ga to allow this higher alcohol % beer to be sold here ;-) a creamy delight!

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