Belgium is the fatherland of quality beer-brewing. The country has a huge variety of beer styles, from well-established pale ales, saisons, tripels and dubbels to the more unusual Flemish sours, lambics and gueuzes. It is also, of course, the spiritual home of Trappist beer, claiming six of the eleven breweries in the world where Trappist monks oversee the beer making (and usually cheese too) to support the charitable works of their monastery.

Welcome to the world of Belgian Beer

Trappist beers aren’t beer styles per se, but to be described as such they have to be brewed either by monks or within the walls of a Trappist monastery. Today the Belgian beer scene itself is highly regionalised. You shouldn’t impose any such constraints on yourself, of course – with such a rich brewing history, Belgian beers are an essential addition to your fridge.



Abbey – A beer associated with an abbey although rarely brewed by monks. Leffe is the best known example.

Brettanomyces – A genus of yeast often known as Brett. It can cause flavours and aromas such as leather and barn yard. Often found in lambics and Flanders reds.

Gueuze – A style of Belgian beer that blends old and young lambic ale. Highly carbonated and distinctly tart and sour.

Lactobacillus – A bacteria that, when desirable, adds a sourness to beers.

Lambic – A traditionally Belgian brew that is quite sour unless flavoured with fruit. It also uses open fermentation methods that rely on the natural yeasts in the air (rather than adding yeast directly to the brewing process).

Sour Beer – A type of beer that is usually sour to taste and describes Lambic, Gueuze or Flanders red ale. The oldest brand is Rodenbach.

Trappist – A beer brewed within a Trappist monastery. Only 11 breweries (six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands, one in Austria, one in Italy and one in the USA) can use the ‘Trappist’ badge.

Wit– Meaning ‘white beer’. A cloudy wheat beer that was originally preserved with spices or fruit. The most common spices are coriander and dried orange peel. Wheat makes it cloudy.