While I was in Belgium recently, I drank a number of spontaneously fermented beers, sometimes known as sours in certain circles. Here are a few of them along with some other beers I had along the way.
To my absolute surprise and delight, The Beer Circus had Girardin's lambic on cask for the princely sum of €2 for a 200ml measure. Needless to say, we consumed a fair bit of that with dinner. While not nearly as good as Cantillion, for that price I wasn't going to be fussy and it did the job nicely. In fact, being cask and basically flat made it easier to drink than its more acidic bottle conditioned cousins.
Another highlight was Troubadour Magma, a whopping 9% DIPA that's just bursting with tropical flavours. Pineapple dominates reminding me of all the Lilt I drank growing up.If there's one problem with this beer, it is that it's just too damn drinkable. In that way, it's like Of Foam And Fury. You can suck them down with wild abandon before you feel the 9% kicking in. It's only a bad thing if you do this though. I dread to think what this beer would cost in a bar in Dublin but in Belgium, it ran at about €3.70 a bottle in most bars.
One of the coolest places in Brussels is called A La Becasse. Their speciality is lambic style beers and they are served in various sized jugs. We were drinking Timmerman's Doux, a young sweet gueuze and in this place, it's just a little special for some reason.
Gandavum Dry Hopping is a beer brewed for Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant in Ghent. Incidentally, if you have the time to hop on a train for an hour, Ghent is a beautiful city to visit for a day trip from Brussels. The beer itself is a 7% ABV Belgian strong ale. For some reason, I didn't find it particularly pleasant. I thought there was a bit of a cooked vegetable thing going on but TheBeerNut didn't and quite liked it. That aside, it was a tasty enough beer with a little nectarine and citrus bite.
Hanssens Oude Gueuze is an outstanding gueuze and I very much enjoyed drinking it. It's the sort of lambic that can hold its own alongside Cantillon, in fact I would love to have them side by side to see which one I prefer. It's a little stronger at 6% though. It's a very sour gueuze, just the way I like them but there is also a pronounced sweetness that remains throughout.
Gentse Strop was my last beer in Ghent and that's unfortunate because it wasn't my kind of thing. It's a very sweet Belgian ale. A little stale straw and and honey makes it almost pleasant but the cloying sweetness ruined it for me. Not to worry, I grabbed a few bottles of beer for the train ride to the airport. Word of warning, if you do the same and buy a gueuze, remember it's easier to open the bottle if you have a corkscrew.