Belgium is known for a handful of lovely things: its delicious chocolate, waffles, and of course beer! The latter of these culinary trademarks is the one I’ve been most intensely exploring. Call it an adventurous passion for unearthing the subtle nuances of Flemish cultural fabric or call it pure debauchery. Whatever you decide to dub it I’ll be here gulping down the good stuff. Belgian ale brewing is an ancient biz. Peek at a bottle of rich, sweet Tongerlo dubbel and you’ll discover that some chubby monks started this brewski in 1133. Others like the bubbly, golden Tripel Karmeliet are wee babies in comparison. With a launch date of 1679 these newcomers must have strutted their ruffled shirts down cobblestone streets the way a proud chicken shows off its new Reebok Pumps the day after Santa Claus comes. With all these years of experience behind them the Belgians sure know how to whip up a batch of lovely booze. Some of my recent favorites have been Hommel, Duvel, Westmalle, Grimbergen, Leffe, Hoegaarden, Delerium, Rochefort, and Kwak. There are surely others I have intimately loved but with a typical alcohol content of 9% once I get past glass ..3 everything blurs but the essence of delight and the faint beating of my heart as I drift into blissful stupor.
(from summer 2005)