Exploring Belgian beer styles

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Photo courtesy Paul Sarne: paulsarne.com

This month I’ve chosen to write almost exclusively about Belgian beer styles. The category is underrepresented in the Vermont market and I think it’s due to a lack of understanding. Or maybe it’s because of a misunderstanding of the category. I’ve written a couple pieces for the Burlington Free Press & BTVfoodie.com on Belgian beers styles which you can read by following the links below.

On Abbey-style beers

There’s no category of beer more complex, more complicated and yet also more rewarding than the universe of Belgian-style beers.

In an effort to help demystify this category I thought we could walk through the abbey-style ales, a subset of beers that sprang from the monastic brewing tradition of Belgium.

To read the full column, follow this link: Belgian-style beers: Complex rewards.

On Saisons

To best understand saison I think it’s helpful to note that it’s really a grouping of beer styles, not just a single style. Saisons fall under the category of “farmhouse ales,” beers which were brewed by farmers with whatever ingredients they had on hand. The farmhouse ale tradition as we know it started in Belgium and France, where in the fall farmers would use some of the year’s grain harvest to ferment beers to be drank the following summer. Barley, wheat, rye, oats and spelt were all commonly used. Hops were used, too, if available, and spices might be added.

To read the full column about Saisons, follow this link: The bar for saison-style beer is high.

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