Lessons

Henry David Thoreau, the American author and philosopher once said – “Water is the only drink for a wise man”…Well what a load of bollocks. Beer has taught me this so far ..

#1.  Beer was first made in Sumeria donkeys years ago, and was largely brewed by women, while men hunted. Worth bearing in mind also that Banana beers are not that good !

#2.  Pater is the daily drink of monks, and Het Kapittel means “chapter” and refers to the hierarchy of a monastery or abbey, which is extremely important in the history of Belgian brews.

#3.  Bush Ambree is the oldest unchanged Belgian Beer on the market, and Dubuisson translates as Bush in English.

#4.  Abbey beers aren’t really made in Abbeys, but associated with them for marketing purposes.

#5.  There is a strange association with Belgian Beers and the devil !

#6.  The Delirium café in Brussels is the place to drink and meet members of the Brotherhood of the Pink Elephant. It serves over 2000 Belgian Beers in bottles !

#7.  There are 3 golden rules for a brewery to be designated an authentic Trappist brewery, and only 7 exist in the world – 6 in Belgium !

#8.  Grimbergen is actually a quiet village that once boasted a magnificent Norbertine Abbey.

#9.  In 2007, Heineken through their takeover became the second biggest brewery in the world after AB-InBev.

#10.  The Kwak glass was designed to be used by 18th Century coachmen to carry their glasses on their coaches – by an innkeeper called Pauwel Kwak.

#11.  There was an Abdij van Roosenberg brand of beers long before the current range from Van Steenberge.

#12. Lambics are beers that are fermented naturally using unique micro-organisms in the fresh air around Brussels. Gueuze is then made by mixing young and old lambics to sweeten the result.

#13.  Trappistes Rochefort beers are made by Monks of the Cistercian order of Strict Observance, and use water drawn from their own well within the monastery walls.

#14.  The people of Malonne bring themselves good luck by touching a receptacle containing the bones of a dead monk.

#15.  Beer was often preferred to water on long voyages at sea, as it strengthened the morale of sailors and kept well.

#16.  Abbey Dubbels are traditionally dark, sweet and strong and usually reflect caramelised malty flavours.

#17.  Rodenbach age their ales in oak tuns, which allows a special fermentation to occur. Like lambics, these can be young or old.

#18.  Pater Lieven is named after a famous martyr who had his tongue forcibly removed in the bad old days.

#19.  Mead predated beer by a very long time, and in actual fact was discovered by accident.

#20.  Grand Cru tends to mean the special wine of a region or vineyard for wine, but is largely ambiguous when it comes to beer. You can probably assume though that a Grand Cru is a weighty beer of high quality.

#21.  Hoegaarden Forbidden Fruit was banned in the US because it contravened the nudity laws.

#22.  The Lamoral Tripel is a beer named after a famous figure from the long history of Belgian independence from Spain.

#23.  Cookie beer is made from speculoos which is a traditional biscuit from the Netherlands and Belgium. It’s also dire !

#24.  Fruit Beers are rarely authentic in modern days – normally they consist of about 70% wheat beer and 30% syrup.

#25. Leffe is actually a real Abbey in Dinant in Namur. It used to brew the beer itself years and years ago, but is now just a name associated with a major breweries beers.

#26.  St Arnoldus is the Patron Saint of Brewers. He is the fella on the label of the Steenbrugge beers.

#27.  Buccaneers are different to pirates in that sometimes their activities were made legal by governments, and that they tended to be based in the Caribbean. Both of course liked to drink !

#28. Beers are not only associated with monks – in some cases, they rely on the holy orders of nuns as examples.

#29.  St. Feuillien was (surprise surprise) another martyred saint, who has found his name associated with a range of abbey beers.

#30.  Tongerlo Abbey finally stopped brewing beer itself during World War I when German forces looted all the copper vats to make armaments !

#31. Trappistes Rochefort beers can largely thank Achel and Chimay breweries for their success.

#32.  Boerinneken means ‘Farmers Wife’ in Flemish, and is meant to exemplify the older Belgian traditions of farming to produce artisanal products.

#33.  The town of Ciney is more famous for a war over cows than it is about beer … but only just.

#34.  Duvel has not always been called Duvel. It was originally named Victory Ale to celebrate the end of World War I.

#35.  Corsendonk beer follows the ‘Reinheitsgebot’ which is a strict code that ensures the brewing of beer follows some key golden rules.

#36.  Brugse Zot is named after the people of Bruges who are apparently all fools!

#37.The name Orval is based on a legend of a fish finding a widows ring in the bottom of a pool on the site of the Orval monastery. Yeah right

#38. Raspberries are often considered the best addition to fruit beer as they are the most aromatic of all. Sadly there are also very expensive.

#39. Charles Quint, or Keizer Karel was actually the great Flemish born Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain – Charles V.

#40. Floreffe is a town in Namur with a historic Abbey, which is now a seminary where religious teaching is still carried out.

#41.  Leffe were at one stage run by Interbrew who formed as a merger between Artois and Piedboeuf breweries. Interbrew sought more takeovers all round the world before once again merging.

#42.  The brewery at Van Honsebrouck uses a ‘koelschip’ to catch naturally occuring yeasts. This is essentially a copper vat in the roof which is left open to the air.

#43. Dikke Mathile translates as the Fat Matilda and refers to the statue of a reclined nude that famously lays in the park in the centre of Ostend.

#44. Maredsous is another majestic Abbey in the Namur countryside. Like others it fell apart during the French Revolution, although is now once again fully functioning under the spirit of St Benedict.

#45. Chimay Blue is a beer that improves with age. Aging a beer is carried out by leaving it in the right conditions for a particular period of time – a bit like good wine.

#46. St. Bernardus used to brew Trappist beers but since 1992 have been unable to call them thus. We do know however they still use same recipe/yeasts for their stronger beers.

#47.There aren’t many abbesses on the label of a Belgian beer but if you look closely at the Dendermonde Tripel you will see Hildegard of Bingen in all her medieval glory.

#48. Barbar is named for the warrior, or the barbarian, which is a term which originally sprung from the Greek, for “not Greek”.

#49. Brewery Taps often specialise in one or two beers that the public can only purchase on the premises. Chimay Doree was the first one on my pilgrimage I have encountered.

#50. Fagnes is the French term for ‘the fens’. This area of South East Belgium is swampy and wet most of the year, but very beautiful.

#51.  The Abbaye de Forest does actually exist, and used to be a very important stopping place for dignitaries on the long road from Paris to Brussels.

#52. Petit-Orval is only available at the brewery tap near the monastery. It is essentially the watered down version of the original Orval.

#53. Villers Abbey is an Abbey to the South of Brussels – the remains of which are one of the best examples of Cistercian architecture in the country.

#54. A bilberry seems like a blueberry but is actually quite different. They are one of the rarest fruits, and fresh are one of the most expensive to buy.

#55. St. Monon was a 7th Century monk who was ‘called’ to rural Belgium to help convert pagans into good god-abiding citizens. He was fairly successful although of course eventually getting a spear in your neck, it depends on your personal definition of success!

#56. Drankencentrums or depositaires, depending on where you are in Belgium are the best place to stock up on rare and cheap Belgian beers. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to savour the experience.

#57. There are a number of different types of blonde beer in Belgium, which include lagers, pilseners, Belgian ales, craft ales and triples. The poorer ones definitely have to work harder to impress.

#58. Li Crochon is a speciality dish of the region which is traditionally made by taking the ends of a loaf of bread, smearing them with local cheese and roasting over a wood fire.

#59. Modern Faro is made from blending old and young lambics – just like Gueuze – but then highly sweetened by the addition of brown candied sugars. Older recipes have tended to blend lambics with weak beers or water.

#60.The Val de Sambre brewery set up in 1998 in the old ruins of the Abbaye d’Aulne in Hainaut. Most abbey beers (not all) tend not to have such a close association.

#61. The French Revolution is often symbolised by the La Guillotine, which was the tool that was responsible for the execution of over 40,000 people at the end of the 18th Century.

#62. For a beer to use the term ‘lambic’ or ‘gueuze’ on its label, it must contain a proportion of authentic lambic beer in it, although this doesn’t always guarantee quality as the limit is set very low.

#63. Gaul was the term used by the Romans to describe the area of Western Europe which largely comprised modern day France and Belgium.

#64. Deugniet means rascal or scamp in English, and I could accuse Du Bocq brewery of being one of these after taking my Euros and then sending me on a French/Flemish tour of the brewery.

#65.  La Moneuse is a wonderful beer, unlike the robbing, murdering, plundering highwayman after whom the beer is named.

#66.  The best beer in the world according to ‘Rate Beer’ and ‘Beer Advocate’ is the Westvleteren 12. I have tried it, and while it is pretty impressive, it certainly isn’t the best I have tried.

#67. Abbaye des Rocs is a brewery named after the local ruins of the same Abbey. The ‘Rocs’ refers to the flat plateau on which the village was built.

#68.  Many brewers don’t make it on the road to success due to the operating and maintenance costs of owning the facilities. Therefore some have chosen to rent others premises, such as Deca Services.

#69. The Abbey of St. Martin in Tournai was once one of Belgiums largest Monastic communities, and to this day some of the buildings survive as part of the Town Hall in Tournai.

#70.  Adelardus was the Abbot of St. Trudo for 27 years during the 11th Century. He is famous for overseeing the building of the magnificent church of the Abbey that stood until the plunder of the French Revolution.

#71. A traditional saison is a low alcohol beer brewed during autumn and winter as a summer ale for the workers in the fields. Modern Saisons tend not to face the same issues with refrigeration and thus are often stronger and much more complex. Saison Dupont is viewed as the archetypical saison.

#72.  Scotch Ales are variations on the Strong Pale Ale style of beer, and either got the name by the fact they were made in Scotland, or that the malt used to brew the beer makes the flavour like whisky or scotch.

#73.  The family is very important to the success of breweries in Belgium. There is not many better examples of this, than in the Van Den Bossche clan who have been brewing through four generations over the last 100+ years.

#74. Agrum means “the fields” or “soil” or “land”. It is an allusion to the Schweppes soft drinks which have blended various citrus fruits into refreshing fruity flavours. Agrumbocq is more soft drink than beer, but think of it spiked by a dash of vodka.

#75. Hercule stout is so named because the small village in which it is brewed, is said to be the home of one Hercule Poirot – the famous Belgian detective created by Agatha Christie.

#76. Sloeber essentially translates as a ‘bad boy’ in Flemish. When I look back at my life I can recall many many examples of how I have always been much more of a bad boy after a beer or two.

#77. Hops are used in brewing for two main reasons. Firstly, they act as an agent for the bitter aromas and flavours in beer, and secondly they have an antibiotic effect which ensures the good bacteria in yeast is able to fight off the generally less welcome bad bacterium which can form during the brewing process.

#78.  Kriek is a style of Belgian beer, which is traditionally made by fermenting lambic beer with sour cherries. The word derives from the Flemish for this particular type of cherry. Cherries are great for mixing with beer due to their deep flavour.

#79.  The legend of Gribousine stems from a village in the 1820’s that was afflicted by strange curses and bizarre afflictions. Gribousine was the witch who lived in the cottage by the forest, who eventually was exorcised by the local priest and everyone lived happily ever after.

#80.  The term Corsair stems from the Lettre de Course issued by the French King, which effectively legalised the owner to commit acts of piracy against the common enemy. This addition to foreign policy was extremely common between the 1300s and 1700s, especially in the Caribbean.

#81.Hoegaarden was first brewed in 1966, but is actually based on an original recipe from the town with the same name that dated back to 1445, where monks used ingredients imported from the West Indies by the Dutch – largely coriander and curacao.

#82.  Boskeun is named after Jo Herteleer who was one of the founder brothers of De Dolle Brouwers. Boskeun refers to the playful name given to him by his brothers after getting a scar on this lip after a playfight. Keun translates as ‘harelip’ !

#83.  Christmas beers are normally brewed between November and January, to ensure beer supplies are plentiful, and that the excess grains are used from the previous year. Many breweries then use this opportunity to experiment with different ingredients and to market their range accordingly. Exciting if like me, you are trying 1000 different beers!

#84.  Lindemans have been going strong since 1809, almost eight generations ago. They have been brewing lambic beer all that time and have remained true to that philosophy today, creating tasty lambic beers for all markets.

#85.  Arabier is most likely translated as “parrot-beer”. An ara is a species of South American macaw – a very brightly coloured and exuberant bird – not unlike the one on the label of this beer!

#86.  Watou is a small village in Poperinge hop country just north of the French border. You often spot the name on beer labels, in particular the Het Kapittel range of beers by Van Eecke. The Watou Tripel is a celebration of all that is Watou !

#87.  Rubbel Sexy Lager was removed from UK shelves in February 2008 by alcohol regulators who argued it advertised sexual success in an inappropriate way. The labels feature different girls in scratch and remove bikinis. A marketing play that most probably backfired, although it got us talking about it.

#88. Zwijntje is the beer made by Van Steenberge for the village of Zwijnaarde in East Flanders. The ‘Zwijn’ prefix in the names means ‘swine’ and represents the pig, which is an important part of the Zwijnaarde economy and after which the town is named.

#89. Oude Gueuze, such as that produced by Boon almost didn’t exist at one point. Perhaps if Frank Boon had not invested in the De Vits blenders in 1975 then the whole face of lambic beer may have been removed from the history of Belgian beer. The story is worth a read.

#90. The Westvleteren Blonde was introduced in 1999 to replace an older 6.2% ABV dark beer, and a lighter 4% pater which the monks would drink while they worked. All beers are only available direct at the brewery and in limited numbers.

#91. Trolls probably live in our imagination, either as small little urchins as pictured on the label of Cuvée des Trolls, or as large lumbering troglodytes as befitting Scandinavan mythology. Either way, Dubuisson have marketed a beer to play on our curiosity with these creatures.

#92. Brown beers used to make up about 80% of the variety of Belgian beers in the late 1930s, although today they probably number less than a quarter. The standard can still be very good or very average depending on where you are. Generally the classic brown ales are the ones to hanker after.

#93. The castle on the label of the Kasteel beers is in Ingelmunster and was rebuilt from an existing square fortress in 1736. The owners have changed hands many times over the years, but the current owners are the van Honsebrouck family who actually brew the Kasteel beer.

#94. Witkap means “White cap” and refers to the white cloaks worn by the Cistercian monks – a reformist splinter group of the original Benedictine monks.

#95. Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic is made with about 5000 kg of Kellery cherries which are bought in each year from St. Truiden. If you want to share how Cantillon make the recipe and steep the fruit, then see Beer Report #95

#96. Kastaar was allegedly the bastard son of Lamoral Egmont, well one of a few anyway. He is renowned in certain circles for rescuing his father from imprisonment in the Gravensteen castle and then repressing the Spanish in the War of Independence.

#97.  Triverius was a famous 16th Century medicine man from the village of Nederbrakel. De Graal brewery honoured him on the 500th anniversary of his birth in 2004.

#98. Caracole is a brewery that still operates in the olden style. Cobwebs adorn the dimly lit alcoves while the equipment is ancient and borrowed from other now defunct establishments. Even the labour that produces the beer is intensive and traditional. When people mention Artisanal breweries none probably comply more than Caracole.

#99.De Dolle Brouwers art does not stop at brewing beer. Their brewery and premises also serves as a repository for their paintings. The label of Oeral which I own, portrays various pairs of shoes and was created by brewmaster Kris Herteleer in 2003. Feel free to pop into Esen and visit the studio.

#100. Wheat beer is only made with about 30-40% wheat – the rest is typically a form of pilsener malt. The term ‘White Beer’ has been generally applied to wheat beers due to the hazy milky glow that is produced as a result of the brewing process.

#101. Hildegard and Bas van Ostaden created the Samaranth beer in 2002 as a celebration drink for their wedding. Both run and commission the de Leyerth beers Urthel now under the Trappist brewery of Koningshoeven in the Netherlands.

#102.  Kriekenbier is a beer that is made with cherries but does not contain real lambic. It’s a bit snobby but then is an honourable way of retaining the true meaning of ‘kriek’ and protecting the buyer from less salubrious brands. Of course some blenders and brewers throw in a dash or two of lambic and cheat but largely its honoured. Echt Kriekenbier is a fine example of the genre.

#103.Gruit or grut is an ancient medieval mixture of herbs and spices that was used as a precursor to hops. One would assume that the move away from gruit as an adjunct was most likely due to the lack of consistency in exactly what herbs and spices were used. Belgian craft brewers would of course now though welcome anything that adds variety to their beers!

#104. Brugge Tripel was named as the beer of Bruges following five years of Prohibition in the 1490’s. It was once the proud beer of the famous ex-brewery Gouden Boom (Golden Tree).

#105. Mary of Burgundy is something of a heroine in the eyes of the Belgian people. Her decision not to be suited to the French in the late 1400s led to a period of calm which would last over two hundred years and bring many years of Hapsburg prosperity. Sadly Mary would only live for 25 years before a tragic riding accident ended her life. She is honoured by the beer Duchesse de Bourgogne.

#106. St. Bernardus labels used to feature a monk but do not be deceived by the more recent incarnations. What actually looks like a monk is actually the same portly gentleman in a simple medieval robe.

#107.  The Trappistes Rochefort beers are known by three numbers – 6, 8 and 10, which correspond to the Original Gravity as once measured by monks using the obsolete Belgian scale. The Westvleteren beers use the same scale.

#108. The Van Eecke brewery sits on the site of the old Gouden Leeuw brewery which dates back to 1629 when it was owned by the Earls of Watou. The local villagers have always demanded good beer in this part of the country, which perhaps explains the amount of breweries concentrated here.

#109. La Pecheresse is a french term which translates as “the sinner”. The female draped across the beer label of the same name tells much of the story.

#110. Silenrieux is an organic brewery located on the Pipaix road deep in the Ardennes countryside. The farm brewer Eric Dedoret sought to recreate a range of beers that were once staple in this region.

#111.  There is more to life at the Maredsous Abbey than just religion and beer. The building has a rich heritage in promoting Fine Art and crafts, and the St Joseph centre is still open to the public today.

#112. HelleKapelle translates into English as the Hells Chapel. It is the name of a bar at the De Bie brewery in Watou, however was also a famous café run by De Bie in Watou which was sadly closed to the public in 2006.

#113.  Stef Orbie was the brainchild behind the De Bie brewery. The clue is in the name!

#114. Buckwheat is a pseudocereal like amaranth or quinoa. It is not actually a grass or a cereal at all but does share many similar properties, hence it can be easily used to make beer like the Sara Blonde from Silenrieux.

#115.Spelt beers are like wheat beers because to all intents and purposes, wheat is just a genetically modified version of spelt. These beers are often brewed for health reasons in that they are more organic and higher in protein.

#116. Stella Artois is thus named after the brewmaster from the 18th Century Sebastian Artois, and that Stella means star in Latin, a play on the fact this was a Christmas beer first launched in 1926.

#117.Pave de l’Ours is a beer by Silenrieux, but also the name of a popular French fable which generally advocates that the road to hell is often paved by the best intentions.

#118. Kerelsbier roughly translates into ‘Guys Beer’ and is in homage to Nicolaas Zannekin, a local peasant farmer who fought hard and tough against the French, eventually losing his life at the Battle of Cassel in 1328.

#119. The Dovetail is an atmospheric Belgian beer bar tucked away in atmospheric Clerkenwell. With over a hundred Belgian beers to choose from it may be the best place in London to stop for a tipple.

#120. Sometimes beer research can lead you down dark alleys – who would have thought that http://www.cochonnette.com could get you into trouble at work?

#121. The stange looking figures on the label of La Binchoise beers are called Gilles, and are the main characters in the Carnival of Binche, which occurs every year in the town of the same name, in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday.

#122. The beers from De Koninck are synonymous with the City of Antwerp. Go into a 100 cafes in Antwerp and you will see what I mean. The brewery though has recently been taken over by Duvel Moortgat in order to preserve this tradition.

#123. The St. Feuillien brewery was actually known as the Brasserie Friart from 1873 until 2000. The Friart family have run the show ever since, and even now are key to it’s ongoing success.

#124. The hand which adorns the label of the De Koninck beers has played a massive part in the history of the brewery. There used to be a stone border post 100m from the brewery, adorned with a sculpted hand. It was here that travellers would pay a toll to enter Antwerp from Bechem and stop into the old coach house for a brew.

#125. There used to be a brewery in the town of Kampenhout, who began to make the range of Campus beers. In 1993 though it was taken over by Huyghe who continue to sporadically produce the range.

#126.St. Louis was actually King Louis IX of France, who ruled for the middle part of the 13th Century. His name is synonymous with the reforms to beer drinking in France.

#127. The Abbaye de Val Dieu translates as the Abbey in the Valley of God. It is an abbey in the district of Aubel which was founded in 1216 by a gang of Cistercian monks looking for a quiet place to brew beer.

#128. Oudbeitje translates as ‘old berry’, and is probably the only strawberry lambic beer in modern day production.

#129. This is probably really obvious really, but a beer really is a very subjective matter indeed. No beer will probably ever divide opinion more than the Hanssens Cassisframbozenlambic which really must be tried to be believed.

#130. Beersel is a rarity in Belgium, in that the town hosts two brewers – Oud Beersel and Drie Fonteinen. Both create splendid lambic beers.

#131. There are two types of hops that brewers use. The traditional flowers, or mass produced hop extracts. The latter are easier, cheaper, cleaner and store better but they do compromise overall quality. De Ranke still advocate the use of high quality hop flowers.

#132. Moules Frites (aka Mussels and Chips) is a traditional Belgian speciality. Often served in a broth of Belgian beer, every tourist should make a point of having it at least once.

#133. Vicaris Generaal is a beer commissioned and brewed by Dilewyns. A vicar general is actually not a vicar at all, but a character employed by a bishop to carry out all the administrative duties in the diocese.

#134. If you ever see Charles Quint/Keizer Karel beers being drunk from a three-handled tankard then you aren’t seeing things – there is a very good reason for this !

#135. Hapkin was the Count of Flanders who ruled between 1111 and 1119. He was the Robin Hood of his day, and with his axe instilled an order of rule bordering on the psychotic, albeit restoring peace in its wake.

#136. The heron is the symbol of the li Crochon beers, and was chosen due to the fact that in the wet months, the local area in the Condroz valley is often a stopping point for the migrating birds.

#137. Belgian beers have often been brewed by Norbertines, a schism of the Cistercian monks and following the doctrines laid out by St Norbert.  The Tongerlo beers are a great example.

#138.  Adolphe Sax was born and bred in Dinant, and the beer Saxo by Caracole is their homage to the great man.

#139.  The name Moinette could be for various reasons. Two examples are that either moine means monk in French, or that the brewers Dupont once owned a mill called the Cense de la Moinette.

#140.  The horse has played a major role in the history of brewing beer. Firstly, in the mass production of the beer through ‘horse-power’ until the invention of the steam engine, and in the mass delivery of the beer, right up until the invention of the Internal combustion engine.

#141.  There are many Gods associated with beer. Dionysus is the most obvious, but in other cultures such as Aztec, Sumeria, Slavic and Norse, many different Gods exist.

#142.  Pere Noel is the French/Belgian equivalent of Father Christmas. Flemish speaking patrons of Belgium tend though to celebrate Christmas through St. Nicholas, although to be honest they are all much of a much and I heard it through the grapevine that neither really exist anyway.

#143.  St. Paul is a range of beers originally produced by the brewers Sterkens. St. Paul was a character who is most famous for being turned by Jesus from non-believer to believer, and who almost single-handedly promoted Christianity to the Western World.

#144.  Jacob van Artevelde is a Ghent legend. He was almost single-handedly responsible for the rise to prominence of the City in the 14th Century. Even now the local brewery has named a beer after him.

#145.  The Gulden Draak is actually the Golden Dragon statue which sits atop the tower of the Belfry in Ghent. There are many legends which have shaped this story.

#146.  Vichtenaar is the family favourite beer of the Verhaeghe family, who have been running the brewery for generations.

#147.  Frank Boon saved lambic beer in Belgium almost single-handedly, when he invested in the De Vits brewery, improved the beers, bought out his partner and then set the benchmark.

#148. Ezel is the local nickname attached to people from the Kuurne region of West Flanders. It all comes about from a number of local legends which lampoon the stupidity and stubbornness of the population. They made a beer or two to celebrate this.

#149.  The archetypal Tripel is the Westmalle Tripel. The Trappist Abbey of Westmalle was the first brewery to really coin the term, and the beer is now the most likely to be referred to when describing the style.

#150. The bitterness of a beer is calculated by using a methodology which seeks to measure the ratio of alpha acids in the wort of a beer. It is measured in IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

#151.  Straffe Hendrik means Heavy Henry in Flemish, and was named after the very first head brewer of the Die Maene (The Moon) brewery in Bruges. The rest is a long but very readable story.

#152.  The Extra in Belle-Vue Kriek Extra refers to the extra sweetness, that comes from the addition of extra cherries. It does not however mean extra alcohol!

#153.  The Tripel de Garre is the house beer that is brewed exclusively for the Staminee de Garre bar in Bruges – a small rustic atmospheric bar which is a well visited haunt on the Bruges beer trail.

#154.  Quadrupels can be dangerous drinks, as they mostly sit over the 10% ABV mark. The term Quadrupel is essentially the next step up from a Dubbel and a Tripel. A good example is the La Trappe Quadrupel.

#155.  The gunk in the bottom of some beers is the harmless yeast, proteins and other natural ingredients which come from the brewing process. The beers from the Brasserie des Rocs are particularly famous for it.

#156.  Plokkersbier means “Pickers beer” in Flemish, and is a beer that was brewed in honour and appreciation of the hop pickers of Poperinge who before mechanisation were key players in the beer production business.

#157.  Tea and beer are both quite English drinks. Modern day society may tell you that drinking tea is much better for you, but if you look back in time, especially to the early 1800’s it really was much different.

#158.  Vedett Extra White is one of two beers which has been extravagantly marketed to appeal to a certain beer drinking audience. By going on-line you are only one step away from being able to win a cement mixer truck or design your own beer label.

#159.  The dog on the front of the new labels of Bon Secours beers is the St. Bernard. They were first bred at the St. Bernard monastery in Austria – thus not linked to the St. Bernardus brewery in Watou.

#160.  The Abbey of Koningshoeven translates as “Royal Farms” and refers to the founding of the Abbey in the 1880s when all there was were fields and a few farms, which were owned by King Willem II.

#161.  The Achilles microbrewery was started by Achiel van de Moer in 1999, who turned a hobby conducted in his garage, into a business which continues in his garage. The brewery though is now up for sale.

#162.  Duvel Groen is exactly the same beer as the traditional red Duvel, other than that it is cold filtered and bottled for sale at the time the traditional Duvel is sent on for secondary bottle conditioning.

#163.  Balthazar was the third King from the biblical nativity story. According to legend he was a dark skinned swarthy king from Sheba who brought myrrh to the bedside of baby Jesus. He is also a beer by Alvinne

#164.  Dubuisson brewery was formed in 1769 on the site which the brewery still sits on; eight generations of family later. Prior to this, the founder Joseph Leroy brewed beer at the seigniorial estate of Ghissegnies across the road.

#165.  Chimay White is also known as ‘Cinq Cents’ which is the name that was given to it in 1986 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the town of Chimay.

#166.  A ninkeberry is not actually a fruit !! Its the name of a fruit beer in the Floris range however.

#167.  La Montagnarde is a term used to describe the people of the village of Montignies-sur-Rocs.  It means “mountaineer” in French, and is a beer by the Abbaye des Rocs brewery from the village.

#168.  Achouffe is a brewery in the Ardennes. Legend has it that the recipe for the beer of La Chouffe was handed down from a colony of gnomes who once brewed all of Belgium’s beers.

#169.  Lucifer is a beer which was abandoned when Riva brewery went bankrupt in 2008. This is a fairly apt name for a character who was expelled from Heaven by God.

#170.  Palm Speciale is the flagship beer of Palm Breweries. The history of this brewery dates back to the late 16th Century, when it was known as De Hoorn (The Horn).

#171.  La Ploquette refers to the tightly packed cylinders of wool which travelling salesmen would tote around East Belgium in bygone days. The beer of the same name is brewed especially for town of Verviers – once the Wool Capital of the World.

#172.  The Timmermans brewery was first opened for business in 1781, although it wasn’t known as Timmermans until the 1960s. It was originally called the Brasserie de la Taupe (the Mole brewery).

#173.  Bockor produce a beer called Omer. This is in reference to the name of every head brewer through the history of the brewery.

#174.  Real buccaneers would toast their victories at sea by drinking large amounts of ale. This custom of brotherhood was rather unnecessarily done by drinking from each others boots!

#175.  Pilaarbijter was a 16th Century Flemish term that meant ‘a religious hypocrite’. The term comes from a proverb that is depicted in a painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder called “The Netherlandish Proverbs”.

#176. The Brugs Witbier was once brewed exclusively in Bruges by the Gouden Boum Brewery. It still bears the Gouden Boum (Golden Tree) logo in honour of the medieval tournament of the Golden Tree.

#177.  Stan Sterkens is the latest generation of head honcho in the Sterkens beer family. They no longer directly brew beers, but act as consultants for customers setting up brewpubs, and export their beers overseas.

#178.  Girardin is a family run brewery on the outskirts of Brussels. The family do not advertise, run tours or give away any trade secrets. It’s about as mysterious as any of the Belgian breweries can be.

#179.  Duivels Bier by Brouwerij Boon, is actually remodelled on a beer which was brewed originally by Petre Freres and then Vander Linden. There is a staggering symmetry between itself and Duvel in terms of its evolution.

#180.  The De Block family brewery can trace its roots right back to the 14th Century, when Henricus de Block obtained brewing rights from the Duke of Brabant and Burgundy. The baton of brewing has been handed down in the family ever since.

#181. The castle (Kasteel) at Ingelmunster which adorns the Kasteel beer labels virtually burnt to the ground in 2001. Most areas are now shut to the public, but the Kasteelkelder beer cellar remains open to the public as a tasting joint for the Van Honsebrouck beers.

#182.  Guy and Bernadette Claus used to run the St. Bernardus brewery between 1962 and 2003. They have now since retired and instead run the famous guesthouse which sits in the grounds of the brewery.

#183.  Johan Brandt was the brainchild behind the De Regenboog brewery. It was formed as an extension of his brewing hobby which caused him to shut his printing business and continue on as a brewer.

#184.  In 2010 the ‘T Smisje brewery announced they were ceasing to make their entire back menu, concentrating instead on a new beer called Smiske, and its winter equivalent.

#185.  The beers of La Chouffe are not really made by elves; its just a fantasy made up to market beers!

#186.  The Bourgogne des Flandres beers were first brewed as far back as the late 18th Century by the Van Houtryve family. Even now the family oversee the production at the Timmermans brewery.

#187.  The Blanche des Honnelles beer is so named for the two rivers that flow through the local municipality – the Grande and Petite Honnelles.

#188.  Gaspar is said to have been the king or wise man that brought Gold to the crib of baby Jesus, although their have been many questions raised as to where he came from. Some have said Tarsus in modern day Turkey. Others suggest India.

#189.  Griotte is a french term for the sour cherry of the genus Prunus Cerasus. Because of their acidity and colour they are often used in baking and brewing.

#190.  The de Ryck brewery was previously called de Gouden Arend; the same ‘Golden Eagle’ which is the signature beer range of the brewery.

#191.  The Bon Secours beers from Caulier celebrate the passing of Father Baudelot, the original brewmaster from the Peruwelz monastery founded in 1628. Legend has it that he was often led home from long boozy evenings by his St Bernard dog.

#192. The popular Belgian beer Jupiler is named from the town in which the brewery is based, Jupille-sur-Meuse. It is very much marketed at the masculine beer drinkers of Belgium who have little appreciation of flavour.

#193. St. Martin eventually became the Bishop of Tours, and is famous for helping the sick and the needy, most famously in cutting his army cloak with his sword, and sharing half with a beggar.

#194. “Optimo Bruno” translates as Best Brown in Italian, and is a claim laid by Grimbergen to their original winter beer which now appears all year.

#195. The standard Rodenbach beer is made by blending older and younger tuns of the Rodenbach house beer. This is in contrast to the Rodenbach Grand Cru which is made by using just matured 2-year old varieties. This leads inevitably to a more subdued overall flavour.

#196.  The Buffalo beers started in 1907 when a travelling circus came to the town of the local brewery, and a negligent young apprentice was left to tend the kettles. The beer got burnt although enough people enjoyed the result. The circus was the “Buffalo Bill” travelling circus.

#197. The beer Ename Cuvee 974 is a reference to the year that the borough of Ename was first founded.

#198. The area around the Trappist abbey of St. Sixtus played a prominent part in World War I, where approximately 400,000 allied soldiers were stationed. It was the only Trappist brewery not to be plundered by the Germans.

#199.  The beer Waase Wolf was so named after a legendary wolf which mauled and killed over sixty sheep on the Belgian/Dutch border in 2000.

#200.  The six and final Trappist brewery sprung into existence in Achel in 1998. They are the smallest and probably least well known but are still purveyors of a fine selection of brews.

#201.  The Artevelde beers were the first ones made by Huyghe following their restructure in 1985. They kick-started the move into a small business becoming a successful national brewery.

#202.  The brewery at the Abbey of Koningshoeven survived the German plundering during World War I due to the Netherlands remaining neutral. 

#203. The Silly Saison is created by blending an older stock of 12-month conditioned beer with a younger fresh batch. This cycle continues every season/saison.

#204.  Torrefied malts are those that are pre-roasted at ridiculously high temperatures. Many forms of malt are often torrefied to remove unwelcome ingredients or to add a nutty flavour.

#205.  The term l’Ermitage is a derivative of the term Hermitage, which is a place where groups of people live in seclusion in order to devote themselves fully to religious or monastic purposes.

#206. The Darbyste beer made by Blaugies is named after the temperance-preacher John Nelson Darby who first advocated the use of figs in lower strength beer during the 19th Century. This was to ensure the safer working of Belgian miners.

#207.  The Enghien range of beers made by Silly were once brewed by the Brasserie Pot d’Etain (Pewter Pot) in Enghien. This small farmyard brewery was taken over by Silly in 1975.

#208.  The cartoon figure on the Oerbier is a sprouting yeast cell, who carries a mashing fork in one hand and the perfect glass of Oerbier in the other. The year Anno 1980 represents the date the brewery began, and the words Nat en Straf literally translate as Wet and Strong.

#209.  Hoegaarden launched the Citrons and the Rosee in 2008 and 2009 respectively, at a time when other well known breweries were marketing low strength wheat beers flavoured with fruit syrups.

#210.  Label beers are quite common in Belgium. Essentially they are the same beer but labelled differently for different markets or breweries. Label beers often turn up in specialist beer shops as ‘house beers’. A good example is the Deugniet and the Triple Moine.

#211.  La Binchoise Blonde was one of the first beers to be launched by Andre Graux in 1986. It had an alter ego of Fakir (predominantly for the region of Flanders) which was the childhood nickname of Graux.

#212.  The motto of the Grimbergen beers is Ardet Nec Consumitur, which translates as Burned but not destroyed – an apt statement for an Abbey which has been razed and replenished many times through history.

#213.  The story of the Golden Dragon in Ghent is largely that of legend. It was actually commissioned in 1378 for the people of Ghent as a symbol of the city. It was never brought from the Turks during the Crusades or stolen from the people of Bruges!

#214.  The Seraphim are the six-winged high angels of Heaven who exist to serve as messengers between God and man. The Achilles range of beers are named after these celestial beings.

#215.  Satan beer was once banned in the Deep South of the US due to the locals complaining. In fact in Texas locals held a sit-down protest until the beer was removed from the shop shelves.

#216.  The Abbey at Val-Dieu is the only fully functioning authentic Abbey brewery in Belgium that isnt officially Trappist.

#217.  Although the Grimbergen range of beers is fairly standard in Belgium, there are a whole different range of beers for the French market.

#218.  The brewery at St. Helene in Virton is so named because of the original road on which the brewer Eddy Pourtois lived when he set up the business in Orsinfaing

#219.  The St. Sebastiaan Grand Cru is also known as St. Sebastiaan Golden. The beers are brewed by Duvel Moortgat, under the guise of Scheldebrouwerij based on a recipe by the defunct Sterkens brewery!

#220.  A Kossaat is/was a term largely used in Prussia during the 18th Century for a farmer who lived on the edge of the community and who largely eked out a living from their small plot of land.

#221.  An Aperitif beer is one which is served at the start of the meal by way of a welcome to guests, and is largely intended to stimulate the palate before eating.

#222.  Slaapmutske in Flemish literally means ‘sleeping hat’ or ‘nightcap’ referring to a drink imbibed before going to bed. The name was given to a range of beers by the brewing parents who used to dip their child’s pacifier in their own beer to get him off to sleep.

#223.  The Guldenberg is beer is named after the long destroyed Abbey of Guldenberg which once graced the hamlet of Wevelgem. It was here (Wevelgem) that the founder of De Ranke brewery was born.

#224.  The Affligem Abbey was one of the most important in Europe. It was founded in 1061 by a group of errant knights who were trying to repent their violent lives.

#225.  Kris Boelens restarted brewing at the Boelens brewery in 1993 over a century after his great grandfather first founded it.

#226.  There are generally two methods used in adding honey to beer. The first is to add during the kettle boil which means the honey ferments in with the beer, and the second is to add post-fermentation. The latter usually results in stronger honey flavours.

#227.  Lambswool is an alcoholic Christmas drink from Pagan times in Britain which accompanies the eccentric festival of ‘wassailing’. It is essentially a mix of real ale, apples and mixed spice.



The legend of Gribousine, is that of a village in the 1820s that was afflicted by strange curses and bizarre afflictions. Gribousine was the witch who lived in the cottage by the forest, who eventually was exorcised by the local priest and everyone lived happily ever after.

2 responses to “Lessons

  1. Dear Belgian Beer Shrimper
    6. The Pink Elephant café (Correct name is: The Delirium Cafe’)in Brussels is the place to drink and meet members of the Brotherhood of the Pink Elephant. It serves over 2000 Belgian Beers in bottles.
    Cheers!
    Bill Snider – The Embeericist

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