If you know me or of me, you will know I like beer. Over the last few years I have been collecting photos of every new beer I have.
I now have over 2,000 individual beers photographed and have realised that many beers that I assumed I have photos of, I haven't.

This blog will be therefore be an account of my quest for new beers to photo and how I enjoyed them (or not).
My email is ralphgant@sky.com.

Friday, 2 November 2012

My Top Ten Belgian Beers

Well here it is, I decided to have a go at, My Top Ten Belgian Beers.

I have had quite a few beers from Belgium but not enough to make a definitive top ten list of Belgian beers.  However what I can do is, make a list of those Belgian beers I really like and actively seek out to drink whenever I get half a chance.

As you know my descriptive talent for taste is practically none existent and that is why these blogs rely so much on photographs. But I am going to make an extra effort to try and say what it is that I like so much about the following beers.

Remember, this is my list, my top ten, my personal opinion, so please do not get upset if you favourite Belgian beer is not included.

Where to start? Well the Belgian beer I drink on the most regular basis is:-

Leffe, Blond from Belgium

6.6% deep gold colour with a thin head, sweet malt and bubblegum aroma, sweet strong bubbly malt taste and a slightly bitter aftertaste.  I love it and it is always a pleasure to have one, especially after a particularly bad beer tasting.  The label has changed over the years but I still prefer the old one.

Besides Stella Artois, Leffe is probably the next best known Belgian beer outside Belgium, strangely all Leffe brands are now brewed at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven.  There are many other Leffe beers besides the blonde, I have blogged about them before, see here.

Van Steenberge, Gulden Draak

10.5% very dark red in colour with a thin head, lot of fruit in the aroma and the taste is very complex, it was like eating a quarter pound of Midget Gems in one go (this is a UK thing I think), Lyons Midget Gems that is, not Maynards and it is strong, a new favourite for me.  Gulden Draak is a beer for savouring, not a session beer.

Brouwerij Van Steenberge brewery is in Ertvelde, East Flanders. The beer is named after the golden dragon at the top of the belfry in Ghent.

Grimbergen, Blond

6.7%, golden colour with a thin head, sweet fruity aroma and fruity yeasty malty taste, a really nice abbey beer. Grimbergen is made by the large Alken Maes brewery for a Norbertine abbey. For me this beer is a close second to Leffe, probably because it is not always as readily available.

Another one were the label has changed over the years and again I prefer the old one.  As with the Leffe, there are many other Grimbergen beers besides the blonde. I have blogged about them before, see here.

John Martin, Gordon Xmas

8.8% deep ruby red with a very thin head, roasted malt and port aroma, complex taste of roast malt, toffee, coffee, almost sweet sherry, very festive, like a Christmas party in your mouth. Absolutely loved it, the commercial description says "Created in the thirties, Gordon Xmas initiated the tradition of Christmas brews" I wish they were all this good.

But remember, just because I thought it was fantastic doesn't mean everyone will like it but in my opinion, if you are going to try a Xmas beer it should be different from the norm and taste festive.

Brouwerij Moortgat, Duvel

Brouwerij Moortgat, Duvel, Belgium

8.5% bubbly gold with a very good head, aroma is sweet and complicated, the taste is sweet malt with some citrus and bitter, very, very, good, it's a bit lively though sometimes, so have a glass ready.  Duvel is another of the beers widely available around the word and therefore, I can get this one whenever I want. .

Brouwerij Moortgat, is a Flemish family controlled brewery founded in 1871, Duvel is Brabantian, Ghent and Antwerp dialect for devil, the standard Dutch word being duivel.

Affligem, Blond, Belgium

Week 49-52, Affligem, Blond, Belgium

6.8% abbey blond, gold colour with a good head, hop aroma, although the commercial description says "low on bitterness" I found it to be bitter with a hoppy taste, not complaining though, I still thought it was very good.

Affligem is a classic abbey beer that was originally brewed by the Benedictine Abbey of Affligem. Since 1970, the beer has been brewery by the De Smedt brewery in Opwijk.

Alken-Maes, Brugs Biere Blanche

4.8% pale cloudy yellow colour with a thin but lasting head, slight citrus aroma and yeasty citrus taste, good refreshing white beer.  Also known as Brugs Tarwebier, as it derives its name from the Flemish "Brugs Tarwebier" which means "Blanche de Bruges", produced at the Alken-Maes brewery.

I struggled between Brugs and Hoegaarden Witbier, even though the Hoegaarden has greater availability and I really like it, I do prefer Brugs when I can get hold of it.

Van Honsebrouck, Kasteel Triple

Van Honsebrouck, Kasteel Triple, Belgium

11% gold colour with a good head, the aroma is sweet alcohol and fruitcake, taste is sweet fruits, I like this beer very much but only drink it occasionally, it is a bit too strong for everyday use.

They also brew a Donker and a Rouge, as well as some other very famous beers, maybe I will pick one of them next time.

The family Van Honsebrouck, own the castle on the label, Ingelmunster Castle, the brewery is also in the town of Ingelmunster.

Bosteels, Kwak

8.0% deep amber colour with a good head, fruity malt aroma, slightly sweet fruity caramel taste.
I don't think I can beat the Commercial Description though, "Full-bodied Belgian Specialty Ale. Amber in color with beautiful foam and slightly sweet, seductive malt character. Rich, satisfying Belgian experience."

The brewery was founded in 1791 and is still owned and operated by the same family, now its seventh generation. Bosteels Brewery is in Buggenhout, the beer is reputedly named after an 18th century innkeeper and brewer, Pauwel Kwak.

Palm, Brugge Triple

8.2% gold colour with a thin head, fruity malt aroma, sweet malty taste, very good beer.

Bruges Tripel was brewed by the De Gouden Boom brewery in Bruges but since the acquisition of the brewery by Palm, it is now brewed at one of their breweries.

Some of the brewers above belong to the Belgian Family Brewers.

Belgian Family Brewers

The members of the non-profit organization Belgian Family Brewers are Belgian breweries that have been brewing beer continuously for at least 50 years in Belgium. Together they represent 15% of the Belgian beer brewers, with a total of 1500 years of experience in brewing beer the traditional way. Currently 20 breweries are members.

The non-profit organization promotes the historical and independent family breweries, which truly provide added value to the identity and authenticity of the essence of Belgian beer brewing. It is a noble goal, because beer brewing has been passed on from generation to generation for centuries. That is why the authentic Belgian beers deserve a recognition that distinguishes them from other beers.

Lastly the top selling beer in Belgium it not Stella Artois which is by far the largest selling Belgian beer around the world but Jupiler.   Neither are included in My Top Ten but both are beers I wouldn't turn down, in fact there are not many beers I would turn down.

5.2% gold colour with a thin head, sweet malt aroma slightly bitter malt taste, actually better than I make it sound.

Well I could very easily do a second Ten Belgian Beers, and may do one day, depends what the reaction is to this one though.

Photos of my Belgian Beer Collection 

Some of my other Top Tens

My Top Ten French Beers

Another Ten French Beers

My Top Ten German Beers

My Top Ten English Beers

My Top Ten Dutch Beers 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Another Ten French Beers

As I have said before, My Top Ten French Beers, is my most viewed blog (by a long way) and after having a go at, My Top Ten English Beers, I thought I would revisit French Beers, by doing another ten.

You may point out that, I have not yet done a, My Top Ten Belgian Beers yet, well the reason for that is, I will have to put an awful lot of though into picking just ten from Belgium.  Also as there seems to be a big interest in French beers, I will give that another shot first.

Unlike the last French top ten, these beers may not all  be as readily available, as some are from regional brewers.  Saying that some are supermarket own brands are widely available, even in the UK.  As you know I am not a beer snob, so if a beer tastes good, it doesn't make any difference to me where it came from or how much is cost.

Lancelot, Cervoise Lancelot

6.0% amber colour with a thin head, fruity malt aroma, fruity malt taste. I have had a few of their beers and most were good, unusually the brewery is built on the site of an old gold mine, in Saint Roc André, Brittany.

La Choulette, Hé, Biloute T’es d’Min Coin? Ambree

8.5% deep amber colour with a poor head, chocolate aroma, fruity chocolate taste.

The brewery employs eleven people and beers brewed by them in the village of Hordain, are distributed across the country and beyond. They are exported to Britain, Italy and the United States (the last bit is from their own website).

Meteor, Wendelinus

6.8% deep gold colour with a nice head, sweet malt and yeast aroma, slightly sweet yeasty taste, a good abbey beer, although ratebeer have it as a Bière de Garde, had it on draught in Blois.  In My Top Ten French Beers, I did give Meteor Blanche a bad report last time so I hope this makes up for that.

Pietra, Colomba Blanche (Corsica)

5.0% cloudy white with a good head, it looked good but had a bit of a weak taste, a very average witbier. Then again it was typical of most French Blanches.

Ākerbeltz, Gorrasta (Amber)

5.5% amber colour with a thin head, slight toffee aroma, taste was a bit like chocolate éclair sweets.  I had three beers from Ākerbeltz, besides the Amber, I had the Blonde and the Blanche and the this one was the better of the three.

The goat emblem AkerbeltzAkerbeltz (the black goat) was chosen by François Iraola to symbolize the brand of beer. It is a character of Basque mythology.  The brewery is quite close to the Spanish boarder. 

Mélusine, Imperiale Blonde

Mélusine, Imperiale Blonde, FranceMélusine, Imperiale Blonde, France

4.8% gold colour and a very thin head, very little aroma, sweet with a slight grapefruit hop taste but it was a bit watery.  It was very good to drink in the sun, on the beach, as we did in Les Bains, St Jean de Monts, Vendée, Payes de la Loire.  Although I have included this one, I can not find it again so may have been discontinued.

AR-MEN, Dorée

7.0% dark gold colour with no head, sweet fruity malt aroma, fruity and strong alcohol taste with some toffee. I bought a box set of their beers with a matching glass in Pont Aven in the Finistère department of Brittany, it was a father's day present from Nicole and Tim. As well as the Dorée, there was a Blanche, a Blonde, a Ambrée and a Rousse, I liked then all but the Rousse.

De Gayant, La Blonde de Ch’Nord

7.0% gold colour with a thin head, sweet aroma, good blond Leffe like taste. From Lidl in France, I liked it a lot and it was very cheap.

Saint-Germain, Page 24 Hildegarde Biere Ambrée

6.9% hazy amber colour with a thin head, the aroma was soapy but the taste was of toffee and coffee. Brasserie Saint Germain is in Aix Noulette near Lens and Béthune in Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

De la Soif, Barbe Torte

5.0% hazy amber colour with a good head, chocolate aroma and earthy chocolate malt taste.  I believe the brewery is in Nantes and I did buy it in that region but their website doesn't seem to be working.

Doing this, I have discovered, that I could very easily have done another Ten, well maybe next time, I will see what the response to this one is first.   Feedback is very welcome.

My Top Ten Belgian Beers

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


For Halloween, I though I would have a look through my collection, to see what beers I could find with a connection to the yearly celebration. I found a few and will start with the newest.

Shepherd Neame, Warlocks Broth from England

4.0% amber colour with a nice head, sweet malt and hop aroma, bitter caramel taste, nothing special but not bad.

Shepherd Neame, Spooks Ale from England

4.7%, deed red colour with a thin head, caramel malt aroma, nice toffee malt taste.

Badger, Pumpkin Ale from England

4.6% amber colour with a poor head, smell like a pumpkin lantern the morning after Halloween, fruity but bitter taste, not sure about this one.

Caledonian, Trick or Treat from Scotland

Caledonian, Trick or Treat, Scotland

4.4% deep gold colour with a good head, toffee aroma, mild toffee and hop taste, I got no ginger at all but I did like it a lot. Very poor phone photo.

Nick Stafford’s Hambleton Ales, Ghostly Glory from England

52 beers 4 - 10, Nick Stafford’s Hambleton Ales, Ghostly Glory, England

4.0% deep gold colour with a good head, fudge aroma, some toffee in the taste, I liked this one.

Wychwood, Pumpking from England

5.0% deep amber colour with a good head, fruity aroma, fruity and slightly hoppy taste, not at all like the last pumpkin beer I tried, this one was quite good.

Wychwood, Hobgoblin from England

5.2% dark amber with a thin head, fruity hop aroma, nice creamy malt taste, very good beer and the beast of the bunch

I have also had a few beer with Witch or Wych in the title that could be used for Halloween

Moorhouse's, Pendle Witches Brew from England

5.1% light amber colour with no head, nice caramel aroma and taste.

Moorhouse's, Blond Witch from England

4.5%, gold colour with a thin head, slight citrus aroma, some bitterness and hop taste, not as good as the label.

Wychwood, Black Wych from England

Wychwood, Black Wych, England

5.0% very dark with a thin but lasting head, no aroma when cold but roasted malt as it warms, bitter roasted malt taste.

Wychwood, White Wych from England

Wychwood, White Wych, England

4.0%, not as blond as I expected more like an amber colour, thin head, slight hop aroma, fairly bitter but not much else to say, average beer.