Belgian Beer styles

The Belgian beer culture has deep roots. It has been driven for centuries by families, farmers and monks, resulting in a broad range of indigenous beer styles. Belgian beer comes in all colours, flavours, taste profiles and alcohol strengths. The diversity is immense, so anyone can discover beers pleasing his or her taste.   

Trappist beer Westmalle

Trappist and Abbey beers

Trappist beers are brewed by monks of the Trappist Order. There are five Trappist breweries in Belgium: Westmalle, Westvleteren, Chimay, Orval and Rochefort. Also three Flemish Norbertine communities brew within the walls of their monastery: in Averbode, Heverlee and Grimbergen. Besides, many other Belgian breweries also brew abbey beers, through an agreement with an existing or historical abbey site. Abbey beers are known for their complexity and their characteristic fruity and spicy notes. The most common abbey styles are the ‘dubbel’ (6 - 7%) and ‘tripel’ (7 - 9%). The sweetish ‘dubbel’ (or ‘double’) is a brown beer, having flavours like caramel, raisin, or liquorice, with or without a slightly burnt finish. The blonde ‘tripel’ (or ‘triple’) is stronger and mostly hoppier than the ‘dubbel’.


Witbier (‘white beer’) is an unfiltered and therefore cloudy wheat beer. Coriander and dried orange peel are added for a crisp, refreshing character. With their moderate alcohol content (about 5%), they are great thirst quenchers on a sunny terrace. Try for example Hoegaarden, St. Bernardus Wit, Vedett Extra White, or Brugs Tarwebier (Blanche De Bruges).



Strong blonde beers

Strong blonde beers (7 - 11 vol.%) are golden ales, characterized by lots of carbonation and a rich layer of foam. Some malt sweetness is balanced by a slightly bitter aftertaste. Examples include Duvel, Omer, Hapkin and Satan Gold.

Beer and cheese

Spéciale belge

Spéciale belge (4,8 - 5,5%) is an authentic Belgian beer style, that was created in 1905 as a response to the German lagers and English ales, which were very successful in Belgium at the time. Spéciale belge beers are amber-colored ales with a gentle, malty and sometimes somewhat nutty flavor. Some suggestions: Bolleke De Koninck, Palm, ‘Spécial’ De Ryck, Tonneke.

Bolleke De Koninck


Saison is a farmhouse ale, which originated in Belgium’s French speaking province of Hainaut. It used to be brewed in the winter months, to be drunk by the farm workers in summer. It is typically a dry beer, often with hoppy or spicy notes, pale to amber in colour, and thirst quenching with its relatively low alcohol content (5 - 6,5%). Belgian saison beers include Saison Dupont, Saison d’Erpe-Mere, Saison de Dottignies, and St-Feuillien Saison.



‘Bière brut’ or ‘Brut des Flanders’ (8 - 12%) is a strong beer that ferments like a champagne. The 75-cl bottles are regularly rotated a quarter turn and slightly tilted until all the yeast collects in the neck of the bottle. The yeast is then frozen and removed, and the bottle is topped up again. The result is a refined, mostly dry beer, high in carbonation and with elegant, fruity notes. Look out for brands like DeuS, Malheur Malheur Bière Brut, Grimbergen Magnum Opus Brut Beer, and De Vlier Brut.

Grimbergen brewery

Lambic & Geuze

Lambic (‘lambiek’, ‘lambik’) is a flat wheat beer, fermented with airborne yeast and aged on wooden barrels. Traditionally, young and old lambic are blended and refermented in the bottle to obtain a sparkling geuze beer (5-8%). ‘Oude Geuze’, a denomination which is protected as a ‘guaranteed traditional specialty’ on a European level is the real deal: a sourish and complex beer, using 100% lambic as a base. Oude Geuze is revered by beer connoisseurs all over the world. ‘Geuze’ is a sweeter variant. Some producers: 3 Fonteinen, Cantillon, De Cam, Oud Beersel.

Geuze boon

Fruit beer

Fruit beer (2,5 - 6%) are beers flavoured with fruit, fruit juice or fruit extract. The most traditional one is ‘Oude Kriek’, which is produced by macerating sour cherries in lambic. Just like ‘Oude Geuze’, ‘Oude Kriek’ is protected on a European level. ‘Kriek’ is a popular and sweeter variant. Other fruit beers have flavours of raspberries, lemons, peaches, apricots, bananas, strawberries … A whole fruit basket to choose from! Producers include Timmermans, Lindemans, Lambiek Fabriek and De Troch. 

Beer, salami and cheese

Flemish sour ales (beers of mixed fermentation)

Flemish sour ales (‘Flemish Brown’, ‘Old Brown’, ‘Red-brown’, …) are ‘beers of mixed fermentation’ (4,5 - 8 vol.%). They are produced by blending old, barrel aged beers with ‘regular’ young beer. Their history goes back for centuries in the southern parts of the provinces of West and East Flanders. These beers strike a balance between a slightly sweetish flavor and a soft acidity, with distinctive crisp, slightly citrussy notes. Breweries brewing this beer style include Rodenbach, Liefmans, ’t Verzet and Vander Ghinste.

Brewery Rodenbach

Other beer styles

Over time, Belgium also adopted beer styles which orginated elsewhere, like pilsners (Stella Artois, Cristal Alken, Primus, Bockor Pils, …), IPA ’s (Troubadour Magma, Duvel Tripel Hop, XX Bitter, Viven Imperial IPA, …) and stouts (Gordon Scotch Ale, Stouterik, Gulden Draak Imperial Stout, Oesterstout, …). Many Belgian brewers gave a ‘Belgian twist’ to these beer styles, resulting in beers which are more full-bodied and complex, with fruity or spicy notes produced by typical Belgian yeast strains. 

belgian beer

Belgian Beer World in Brussels

The worlds’ biggest interactive center about beer welcomes you in the historic Brussels Stock Exchange building. Learn more about the history of Belgian beer, explore a multitude of aromas and flavours and discover your personal taste profile. End your visit with a beer tasting on the stunning rooftop bar. The view of Brussels is breath-taking!

De Beurs

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