Belgium's Great Beers
Understanding the styles
This term is applied to ranges of strong ales in a similar vein to some of the famous Trappist brews, but not made in monasteries. Some have names indicating a business relationship between an abbey and a commercial brewery. Several of these monasteries did brew in the past. The Norbertine abbeys of Leffe and Grimbergen, for example, have royalty agreements with Interbrew and Alken-Maes respectively. So does the Benedictine monastery of Maredsous, with the brewery that also makes Duvel. Another Benedictine monastery, Affligem, played a significant role in the history of hop-growing and brewing, and made beer until World War I. Its excellent beers are now made by the De Smedt brewery. There are several other religious institutions that licence breweries, and other beers that are simply named after an abbey ruin or local saint. An excellent newcomer is Karmeliet. This beer owes something to a style made by the Carmelite monks of Dendermonde, in East Flanders, in the 1600s. It contains barley, wheat at oats, in both raw and malted forms, and is very heavily spiced. It is made by the Bosteels Brewery, which also produces a pleasant dark ale called Kwak, famously served in a stirrup cup.