Smiles Good Belgium Beer Guide 2012

Belgian Beers

When I first met Mr Smiles he told me that Belgium has over 800 different beers and he was gradually working his way through them on his annual trip to Ghent. He didn’t quite comprehend that his beloved future wife would take him so seriously. We now have an A to Z notebook entitled `The Smiles Good Belgium Beer Guide‘ ! My one condition of going to Belgium is that each beer has to be annotated in our notebook with a * rating and a description. The star rating is out of 5, ***** being outstanding and * undrinkable. This can prove slightly unscientific if you are a bit squiffy and have already sampled one or two! However even Mr Smiles has seen the benefit of his wife’s organised nature. Now when he selects a beer at random I am able to say `Well you had that one in 2010 and described it as unpalatable and like wine vinegar, I suggest you try a new one!’.

I have learnt quite a lot about Belgian Beer over the last few years. Several hundred different sorts are produced and each beer has a distinctive character served in a specific glass. The label  Trappist refers to beers originally brewed by monasteries. Tripel denotes  a strong ale that was served to the Abbot, the monks drank the Dubbel, while the peasants had only a watery ale.

So here it is:-

Smiles Good Belgium Beer Guide 2012

Abbaye du Val-Dieu, Biere de Noel

Val- Dieu Biere du Noel 7% ***

Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, Ghent

Mr Smiles liked the design of the bottle label better than the beer. Pleasant but disappointing for a Christmas beer. A bit bland and watery.

Trappistes Rochefort

Trappistes Rochefort 6 7.5% ****

Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, Ghent

Mrs Smiles described this is a smooth darkish amber ale. It was deceptively strong and put a smile on her face.

St Bernadus Prior 8

St Bernardus Prior 8  8% Dubbel ****

Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, Ghent

Mr Smiles liked this one. It is a dark brown, sweet, mellow ale.


Reinaert Flemish Amber 7% ***

Chez Leontine Bistro, Groetenmarkt, Ghent

Mr Smiles thought this was pleasant, but not the best he sampled. He thought it had a slightly sour taste of bananas and had no aftertaste. The official Good Beer Guide describes Reinaert Amber as an archetypal Flemish amber ale, technically excellent but a bit too clean.

 St Bernadus Tripel

St Bernardus Tripel  8% ****

Leontine Bistro, Groetenmarkt, Ghent

Mrs Smiles liked this one and thought it was very drinkable. The triple is a blonde, golden ale and Mrs Smiles thought it was smooth and refreshing.

 Stille Nacht

De Dolle Stille Nacht 12%   ****

Chez Leontine Bistro, Groetenmarkt, Ghent

Mrs Smiles managed this strong pale ale in addition to the previous one! Stille Nacht is a strong, pale sweet Christmas Ale. It isn’t too fizzy and it gives a nice Winter warm after glow!

 Christmas Leroy

Christmas Leroy 7% ***

Chez Leontine Bistro, Groetenmarkt, Ghent

I liked this Christmas Beer. It has a warm, caramel taste reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding. Mr Smiles said ‘You can have too much of a sweet thing!’. However Mr Smiles says the same about sticky toffee pudding as well as Haagen-Dazs Pralines and Cream ice cream and I love them!

 La Chouffe

La Chouffe 8%   ***/*

t’Klokhuys Brasserie, Ghent

This is a strong pale ale.Mrs Smiles described La Chouffe as a refreshing blonde and very quaffable. It had a hint of citrus. The glass is a distinctive tulip shape with La Chouffe gnome on it. Would have scored **** if it had been tasted in the Summer.

 Westmalle Dubbel

Westmalle Dubbel 7% ****/*

t’Klokhuys Brasserie, Ghent

Mr Smiles really enjoyed this ale. He thought it was a rich and complex dark beer. This is one he keeps coming back to.


Gruut Inferno 9%  **

Holiday Inn Gent-Expo, Ghent

Mr Smiles was not impressed. In fact he didn’t even finish this one! Gruut Inferno is a strong golden ale, but not Mr Smiles’s cup of tea!

So the winners in the Smiles Good Belgium Beer Guide 2012 are Westmalle Dubbel and both Tripel and Dubbel St Bernardus Ales.

Let me know whether you agree!

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