Beer styles Belgium

Alternative Belgian beer styles

A ludicrously strong pale and a ludicrously strong dark Belgian beer, taken in Ghent.

Style guidelines. Doncha just love them? As homebrewers, we can see that they have their uses sometimes, if you’re trying to recreate a specific beer, or describe what you’ve created in terms that everyone will understand.

But the categories that exist for Belgian beers are pretty daft. Objectively speaking, is there actually much difference between a “Belgian Golden Strong Ale”, and a “triple”, at least as defined here? Or even a Belgian Blond Ale? “Dubbels” and “tripels” are surely only relative terms, depending on which brewery makes them.

At least the idea of separate styles for “Trappist” beer and an “Abbey” beer seem to have fallen by the wayside, although you still get sweeping generalisations such as:

“Finish is variable depending on interpretation (authentic Trappist versions are moderately dry to dry, Abbey versions can be medium-dry to sweet)”

Personally, I think we should start again with Belgian beer styles. My simpler categorisation would go as follows:

(1) witbiers

(2) sour ones

(3) fruity ones

(4) boring pilsners

(5) Belgian pale ales (you know, the ones that aren’t ludicrously strong)

(6) ludicrously strong pale beers

(7) ludicrously strong dark ones

Have I missed anything?

Obviously, within these, there are some huge ranges of flavours, but that’s the case with the guidelines as they currently stand. My classification is also easier for the layman to understand.

Next week: having sorted beer styles, how to end world hunger.