Happy Belgian Independence Day to our brewery friends in Belgium! Elite Brands has a long history representing some of the most iconic beers from Belgium, though not nearly as long as the histories of the breweries, many of which have been operating for 100+ years. Elite has been proud to take staff on an annual trip with many of our Belgian suppliers to experience the beautiful country and enjoy these unrivaled beers at the source. We asked some of our staff to share a few experiences from their Belgian trips over the years.
Coppery blond, the finest aromas and a strong bitterness transform this beer into a thirst-quencher with no equal, just the way it was created. The selection of yeasts is the perfect base for these typical aromas and taste. A re-fermentation in the bottle, which will continue for a long time in your cellar, result in this complex and particular aromatic beer.
Available in: 6/4/330ml, 12/750ml
Ariell Ayalon, Account Manager, Elite Brands
“The first time I visited Belgium was in 2010, 2 years before my career with Elite was even a consideration. My now wife and I were about to leave Denver for Summit County, so we left our jobs and set off to Europe for a month of backpacking. Along the way we found an afternoon drinking Triple Karmeliet and eating escargot along the Handelkom Canal in Brugge. This was the moment I realized Belgian beer was created for a moment. This moment was the first thought I had when applying to work with Elite Brands.
Belgian beer can be traced back some 900 years, and many of today’s current beers date back close to 100 years themselves. Unlike American breweries that are quick to jump on the next biggest trend, the Belgian beer community relishes their long standing traditions and believes that beer brings people together over a meal, along a canal, or simply in a back yard on a summer night.
I have been lucky enough to travel back to Belgium 3 times since that initial trip, twice with Elite Brands and once with my Wife, each time I have carved out time to Indulge in a Triple Karmeliet in Brugge along the canal to remind myself how lucky I am to have a career that I truly love in the mountains of Colorado.”
Duvel Belgian Ale
The flagship of the Duvel Moortgat Brewery, Duvel (“Devil” in English) is a Belgian Strong Ale top fermented with a distinctive yeast strain selected originally in the 1920s and still cultured and used today. Uniquely bottle conditioned in a process that takes three months, the brew is pale golden in color with a full creamy head. Aromas include citrus, apple, bananas and hops with refreshing and robust flavor notes of pale malts, fruity esters and subtle spice. A silky smooth mouth-feel and dry finish help conceal a truly “devilish” 8.5% ABV.
Available in: 6/4/330ml, 24/330ml, 12/750ml, 1/6b, 1/2b
John Bruner, Account Manager, Elite Brands
“There is nothing quite like visiting Belgium during Belgian Beer Week. Standing in the Grand Place of Brussels with a beer in hand is surreal. The flora of unique Belgian yeasts paint a picture of time and place, indeed a sense of history within a smell. You can feel the pride Belgium holds for beer not only as an enjoyable novelty, but as a driver of culture, companionship, and economy. This is a sensation that will be with me forever and pushes me to share Belgian beer with others.”
Chimay Grande Réserve
The Chimay Grande Réserve is a dark ale with a powerful aroma. Its complex flavor improves with passing time. Chimay Grande Réserve is an authentic Trappist product, which means that it is brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, under the control and responsibility of the community of monks, who are involved through the process of making and marketing the beer. Most of the income generated by this activity is devoted to the needs of the community and social works.
Available in: 6/4/330ml, 12/750ml, 20L Keg
Also Available: Cinq Cents White, Doree, Premiere Red, Quadrilogy
Cole Hanson, Brand Manager, Elite Brands
La Chouffe Belgian Blond
La Chouffe leaves citrus notes on the palate, followed by a refreshing, pleasantly spicy note, giving it a lovely lightness. With its 8% alcohol content and slightly hoppy taste, this golden beer has won over beer lovers from all over the world down the years. Its unique taste has won various awards.
Available in: 6/4/330ml, 12/750ml
Also Available: Houblon Chouffe, Cherry Chouffe, McChouffe
Jordan Arp, Account Manager, Elite Brands
“One of the most memorable experiences from one of my Belgium visits has to be Liefmans brewery in Oudenaarde. This iconic brewery has been specializing in Oud Bruin and similar Belgian beers since 1679. The day we visited they had thousands of pounds of sour cherries arriving straight from the farm for use in their Kriek Brut. Cherry harvest only lasts for about a week each year so we felt very lucky to be witnessing the brewery operating at full force.
From the coolships to the cobwebs to their ancient brewing equipment, this place oozes tradition and authenticity. Their cellar was full of our bruins dating back over 100 years, all still developing and still delicious. We drank one that was about 30 years old and it tasted remarkably fresh and vibrant. Everyone at the brewery were the most gracious hosts and still very passionate about their craft. I will remember that brewery experience for the rest of my life.”
Available in: 6/4/16oz Can, 6/4/330ml, 12/750ml, 1/6b Keg, 1/2b Keg
Also Available: Delirium Nocturnum, Deliria, Delirium Red
Andy Whitmire, Regional Sales Manager, Elite Brands
The trip was a whirlwind of amazing sights, beer and food. Roaming through medieval cities and touring ancient breweries was a dream come true. While there were countless amazing and memorable experiences, the three that really stick out in my mind were the Brussels Beerfest, the tour of De Troch, and sitting in a café drinking Westvleteren 12 with a few friends.
The Brussels Beerfest basically blew my mind. It was filled with amazing Belgian beers being served in mini versions of the proper glassware unique to each beer. To insure people wouldn’t run off with their glassware, you had to use a token to get the beer. They would return the token when you gave the glass back and you would then use it to try something else. The trick was to try to figure out a way to get a few extra tokens, so you didn’t have to backtrack as often to return the glassware.
De Troch is a very small Lambic brewery run by a single guy making beer on equipment that should be in a museum. It almost felt like stepping back in time. This guy used a pully system to lift the grain up to the third floor, where his brewhouse was located. After letting the beer wild ferment in a coolship, he stored the for 1 to 3 years in oak barrels before blending and bottling. If people knew how small and unique this brewery is, we wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand for the beer.
During our free time exploring the city of Bruges, a couple of us found a small shop that was willing to serve us Westvleteren 12. It was a magical experience to sit around a small table and share stories of the trip over multiple bottles of one of the world’s most sought after beers.
I would say Belgium is a place that every beer lover should experience. If you are planning on going and have any questions or would like some insight, I would be happy to share my thoughts over a pour of Belgian beer.”
Duchesse de Bourgogne
Duchesse De Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe is the traditional Flemish red ale. This refreshing ale is matured in oak casks; smooth with a rich texture and interplay of passion fruit, and chocolate, and a long, dry and acidic finish. After the first and secondary fermentation, the beer goes for maturation into the oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of younger 8 months old beer with 18 months old beer. The average age of the Duchesse de Bourgogne before being bottled is 12 months.
Available in: 6/4/330ml, 12/750ml, 20L Keg