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Old 12-14-2011, 07:38 PM   #1
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I am a Belgian homebrewer and, well... I would like to know what the "Belgian style" is, in your opinion. How would you describe it?
What, in a Belgian beer, makes it a Belgian (not talking about the label)?

I was born right in the middle of the sin, so I can't make my own opinion - this is my universe.

I tried hard to figure out : thin body with high alcoholic level, spices, yeasts? probably part of the mystery, right.

what do you think?

I will ask the same question to 2 famous brewers I know: I bet they can't put words on that :]



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Old 12-14-2011, 07:57 PM   #2
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In my lay person's opinion I would say Belgian style beers are generally low IBU, high carbonation, malty, sometimes fruity, some sour, sometimes funky, some low ABV, some with high ABV... They get much of their flavor characteristics from the yeast vs. from added ingredients such as fruit.

But I think it's misleading to imply that there is only one type of "Belgian style" beer. It would be similar to saying all "American style" beers are the same when clearly, they are not.

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Old 12-14-2011, 07:58 PM   #3
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It has to be the nasty yeast, don't take offence.


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Old 12-14-2011, 07:58 PM   #4
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Simple. A Belgian beer uses Belgian yeast which gives it a very noticeable and distinguished "Belgian" taste. That taste is very estery. Have a good Belgian pale or wit and you'll be able to recognize anything made with Belgian yeast.

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Old 12-14-2011, 08:03 PM   #5
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Personally I think of Belgians as two different categories: Lambics and everything else (tripel, blonde, etc.).
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Old 12-14-2011, 08:05 PM   #6
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Yeast character

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Old 12-14-2011, 08:10 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by BillyBroas View Post
Personally I think of Belgians as two different categories: Lambics and everything else (tripel, blonde, etc.).
I agree with this. It's how I view Belgian ales, and I'm a BIG Belgian ale fan.

For a description, I think a little higher carbonation level is one piece, tend to be a little lower on the IBU's, a bit more malty, and usually at least a little fruity, which I think comes from the strains of Belgian yeast used.
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Old 12-14-2011, 08:13 PM   #8
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Ester and/or phenolic character derived from the yeast. Many of the higher strength Trappist varieties use simple sugars to keep the malt levels light, while boosting the alcohol levels. The best examples hide this very well. Most belgians I've tasted are on the drier side. Hop flavor is usually of the noble variety (some with mid to high bitterness).

Whereas Germany makes malty beer following standard rules and ingredients, many Belgian brewers make beer using non-traditional ingredients or methods (wild lambics, spices/fruit in Wit's, candi syrups, etc). I personally find them both to be great.
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Old 12-14-2011, 08:21 PM   #9
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Basically what others have said...

High esters and phenols from yeast and sometimes some funk from the yeast. Basically a recognizable Belgian yeast character.

Dry. Even if it's a bit sweet, it will be highly attenuated with a low FG.

Highly carbed.

Low IBU without a lot of late hop additions.

The lambics are a totally separate category for me as well.
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:35 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by wildwest450
It has to be the nasty yeast, don't take offence.


I've tried and tried to like belgiums. Can't get past that taste. It used to be a dream of mine to travel to Belgium and go on a beer tour, but what's the point if I don't like them.

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