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Belgium’s Contribution to the World

The waffles are the first thing people think of. The chocolate comes second. Everyone likes waffles and chocolate. Pressed for more of what Belgium is famous for, and you probably won’t get much more from the average American. Which is unfortunate because this little nation is home to some of the finest beers in the world. Belgian ales are well-crafted beers based on centuries of brewing expertise replica watches
. They range in styles from the light and refreshing Witbier to the heady and delirium-inducing Abbey Tripels, but no matter what type, you’re sure to find a high-quality beer. The trouble is, it’s awfully difficult to find a good selection anywhere, and even if the average beer buyer saw one, would he know what it was?

There are several reasons why Belgian ales haven’t made their way into our market in force. First, there’s the issue of ethnicity. How many Americans of Belgian heritage do you know? Very few Belgians immigrated to the US and, hence, haven’t left a very big mark on our society //www.replicaforbest.co.uk/replica-breitling-watches-sale-for-uk.html. They’ve had such a small impact on our culture that American society doesn’t even have a disparaging name for them, while dozens of insulting names can be applied to Italian-Americans alone.

Another reason we don’t see more Belgian beers is because of how different they are from the standard American beer. Mostly ales, Belgian beers are as flavorful and characteristic as Bud and Coors are bland and transparent. On top of that, with the notable exception of Stella Artois, most Belgian breweries are not historically ambitious in the global market. A few of them are based around the abbeys who formulated the recipes and have been making the beer for hundreds of years. When was the last time you saw a monk at a board meeting?

Only recently have Belgian beers picked up in popularity. This can be attributed to a variety of factors. One is the conglomeration factor in the brewing industry. Interbrew, a group of Belgian brewers has grown immensely in size by swallowing up number of international brands. Its presence is felt all over world by its control over everything from Tennents (Scotland) to Tecate (Mexico), Hoegaarden (Belgium) to Hooch (crap). Thanks in part to this big mother of a company’s goal to have a hand in every market around the globe, we now have a greater presence of Belgian beers in our stores and bars.

Whatever the reason, the Belgian beers are here and we need to enjoy them. Get out there and sample a few of these if you haven’t already. A nice Abbey double or tripel from Chimay with some cheese and bread is a great way to begin. These are strong, flavorful ales with enough character to make a vintage Bordeaux wine hide in shame. Try one on a chilly fall afternoon as a reward for getting all your work done.

Many local package stores carry at least a couple of Belgian bottles these days, and Chimay is the most popular. If you like what you taste, explore more deeply into the world of Belgian beers. A good variety is now available at the larger beer stores around town like Marty’s, Blanchard’s and even Bread and Circus. Ask the sales staff for recommendations, as the task can be daunting to newcomers. There’s everything from wheat beers to strong ales in the mix, you’re sure to find some you’ll like. Once you try Belgian beers, you’re life as a beer drinker will never be the same.

November 4, 2002
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