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August 4, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Belgian Beer

Most people would be blissfully unaware that my favourite beer day of the year has just passed. For the vast majority, their choice would be St Patrick’s Day – an annual opportunity to invent some specious Irish ancestry, drink green Guinness and skip lectures in order to spend most of the day queuing at the bar.

Not me. The day I look forward more than any other is July 21 – Nationale Feestdag. This is, of course, the National Day of Belgium and it celebrates the 177th anniversary of the coronation of King Leopold I. I suspect everyone already knew that.

More than just a chance to toast the Belgian monarchy, Nationale Feestdag is an excuse to settle down and sample some of the very best beers from the land sometimes called “the paradise of beer.” The 120 Belgian breweries use traditional craft techniques to produce beers of exceptional quality from centuries-old brewing recipes. New Zealanders have developed quite a taste for Belgian beer and we consume more than our fair share.

One of the best ways to step beyond the Stella – most of which is now made in Auckland – is to sample the Leffe range of beers. These are the best known abbey beers. An abbey beer has a monastic connection but they are not made by monks or at a monastery. In this case, the Leffe abbey sold their name to a brewery in the 1950s because they needed a steady income stream after a history of getting bombed and flooded which stretched back to 1152.

Leffe Blonde (6.6%) is a golden beer which is served in a goblet. It has a soft orange nose followed by a smooth body highlighted by a little fruit (orange/apples), yeast and spice (allspice). The use of darker malts gives Leffe Brune (6.5%) its rich brown hue. It has plenty of chocolate, coffee and caramel notes and is exceptionally silky.

One of the more intriguing Belgian beers is Belle Vue Kriek (5.1%) – a lambic cherry beer which is on tap at Leuven. Lambic beers are made with wild yeast and this version is aged in barrels for three years before having local cherries (“kriek”) added. The result is deep red beer with a light pink foam. The aromas and flavours include cherry, blackcurrant, oak and a delicate sweet-sour balance.

A couple of Belgian beers also helps take you mind of the fact that President Joel just offered up $10,000 of your money in a publicity stunt so original that it had not been done since the Auckland University Student Association did it the day before.


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  1. bisky risness says:

    go joel


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