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Belgian Beer Recs?

My husband is a Belgian beer lover. His fav is Orval and in second place is Leffe Blonde. Does anyone have any recommendations for any other Belgian (or Dutch/French/German) beers that are somewhat like these two? They don't have to be imported into the States (although that is a plus for the future) as we are in Germany now. We're able to go and find them here now, but just need to know what to go and find. Thanks for any recs!

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  1. Those are wildly different beers. Sounds to me like he'd be up for most anything Belgian. The only ones I'd avoid would be the lame, insipid ones like Stella Artois, Palm, and Steenbrugge Dubbel (made by Palm). Those three are to the great tradition of Belgian brewing what Beck's or St. Pauli Girl are to German brewing.

    Some of my personal favorite Belgian breweries: De Dolle, Cantillon (these are sour), Drei Fonteinen (also sour), Chimay, Westvleteren (hard to come by, but worth a trip to the monastery), De Glazen Toren, Fantome, and Rochefort.

      1. re: Chinon00

        For the record: they're "Belgian style" brews but they're actually from Canada.

        1. re: Chinon00

          I luv La Fin Du Monde and Maudite but if we are talking Belgian Style I still miss Hennepin, Ommegang and Rare Vos that I use to drink in USA from the Brewery called Ommegang but I can't find them here in Canada so la fin du monde is just awsome.

        2. Orval is hoppy and a bit sour. On the hoppy side, you could try, for example, Houblon Chouffe. Also Stone Cali Belgique. Gouden Carolus makes one, whose name conveniently escapes me.

          1. For more hoppy golden/blonde belgian ales that are on the dry side have him try: Chimay Cinq cents (white label), Poperings Hommelbier, Augustijn, De Dolle Arabier, De Ranke XX Bitter, or Duvel.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LStaff

              +1 on De Ranke, de Dolle and Hommel.

            2. I second the De Ranke XX recommendation. Definitely a good one. And of course any Chimay is always a gimme. And anything by St. Bernardus. And yes if you are relatively local than by all means get yourself some Westvleteren! Fantastic stuff. And while you are at it send a case over this way...

              1. Duvel
                Bosteels Tripel
                Maredsous 10

                  1. Actually from Belgium:
                    For a quad: St. Bernardus Abt. 12 or Rochefort 10
                    For a tripel: Tripel Karmeliet
                    For a dubbel: Rochefort 6
                    For a lambic: Cantillon, Boon or Drie Fonteinen
                    For the funk: De Proef or Struiss
                    For the flemish sour: Duchesse de Bourgogne
                    For the saison: DuPont or Blaugies La Moneuse
                    For the everyday: Pawel Kwak, Poperings Hommel, Beersel Lager, De la Senne Taras Boulba, De Ranke Guldenberg or XX Bitter

                    Damn, I'm thirsty...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mrgrotto

                      Hmm, is Rochefort 6 a dubbel? I always thought the 8 was. Also, where the heck is Fantome in your saison list?

                      1. re: Josh

                        Oh yeah... Fantome... Kinda slipped my mind... Criminal. It's so infrequently available in the MA market.

                        And you are correct about the Rochefort 8 being the dubbel. My mind was already onto the lambics at that point.

                    2. right now enjoying an '07 winter holiday style N'ice Chouffe, which was brewed with thyme and curacao peel. Had the '08 on tap in Dec, which was a little snappier, but the complexity comes through a bit more in the aged bottle version. Have to return to that deli this winter.

                        1. re: BeersFromBelgium

                          It seems that Westmalle mentions are often absent in discussions of Belgians. In my opinion they brew as well as anyone and in all the ratings I've seen they rate very high across the board but they don't seem to be held in quite as high regard as the other Trappists. Is it because they are more easily obtainable? For some reason rarity tends to improve a beer's rating. Whatever the reasons, they rate high on my brewers list and their dubbel sets the standard for me.

                          1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                            While rarity could play a part, I think it may be because they don't have have a Quad or Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Westmalle's Dubbel and Tripel are both excellent versions of the styles, but they seem to be "lesser" styles in terms of what beer geeks talk about. (I prefer them too, so I'm not saying it isn't deserved hype, but I'm just saying it is there).

                            If you look at top Belgian beers on Beer Advocate, you have a cluster of Quads (along with Lambics) right near the top of the ratings and only one Tripel (Westmalle actually) and one Dubbel in the top 25.

                            1. re: kwjd

                              Does anyone else feel like the types of beer extolled on those beer-geek rating sites seem to shade towards the analog of "Parker-type wines" - that is, dense, alcoholic, and rich? When I glance at Ratebeer and the like, I see imperial stouts rated up to the high heavens, which is fine and all, but a 13%+ ABV stout may not exactly be what everyone's idea of a "best" beer is.

                              Anyway, topic derail. I really like Belgian tripels - oddly enough, one of the first ones I distinctly remember trying and enjoying was an American-made version of one by Stoudt. Karmeliet is tasty, but I'm not overfond of the clear green 750ml bottles they use - the risk of skunkiness worries me, and that worry was confirmed the last time I cracked open a bottle - pure skunk.

                              1. re: Spatlese

                                Anything that has big flavor in small sample sizes ends up getting the highest ratings. Doesn't mean you can finish more than a glassfull (sometimes not even 6 ozs.) due to its cloying/heavyhanded nature. Nor does it seem to matter if something is well made or even fault free for that matter. Rarity seems to play a role as well.

                                Subtelties are lost on most in that crowd -and since they are getting younger and younger, have no frame of reference since big flavor craft beer has always been available to them. Unfortunate that most will likely never recognize the beauty in a liter of fresh helles or any other lager unless its hopped to the nines. Also unfortunate that the snobbery and elitism that is taking place in the top tier craft beer market is approaching (and in some cases surpassing) the percieved snobbery and elitism of the high end wine market.

                                1. re: LStaff

                                  Damn kids and their Triple IPA's... ;)

                                    1. re: Ernie Diamond

                                      I do like the Imperial Stouts (a lot), the big IPA's and the quads but the reason I appreciate the dubbels so much is that to me there is the element of boldness, but also subtle and delicious flavor profiles. For my palate it seems to be the perfect balance.

                                    2. re: LStaff

                                      The younger demographic which finds these beers so apealling WILL AGE eventually. I can't imagine a 27 year old still craving a brett bourbon barrel aged triple IPA at 57 or 47 even. The reality of what craft is right now is a reflection of the average age of the consumer I think.

                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                        I know some older folks who go crazy over those extreme beers too. I enjoy one on a rare occasion. Now what we need is a brewery that focuses on Real British Ales. That would make me happy indeed.

                                  1. re: kwjd

                                    I don't really agree with the reverence shown for Quads. Some of them are good and a majority are well crafted but they are generally too cloying and super intense for my taste. I would much prefer a Tripel any day of the week if we are talking Trappist styles.

                                    I am very much into Lambics and Wild Ales however. There are some really well made ones out there but this is a bit of an acquired taste.

                                    Back to the topic on hand, I love Karmeliat and the smaller bottles are not clear. Westemalle, La Fin Du Monde (Quebec), St Bernardus and Kasteelbier are all excellent Tripels.

                                    Other Belgians styles I enjoy are the ones from Russian River, Brooklyn Local 1, Duvel and some of the Lost Abbeys.

                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                      Recently had Brooklyn Local 2, quite enjoyed it. Also had a quad from Pretty Things, Baby Tree, that was pretty good. (on a trip back east, obviously)

                                      San Diego has a newer brewery called New English that makes British style ales. Green Flash recently put out one called Matt's Bitter that was a very tasty traditional English bitter, only 3.x% ABV.

                                      1. re: Josh

                                        The Local 2 seems to be better with a bit of age on it but I still prefer the 1. Next time I am out San Diego way I will check those out. The only Green Flash we get in NYC are the monsters.

                                        I miss Alesmith's ESB, now that was a tasty brew.