One of the joys of traveling is trying wine and beer that are not available back home. Over the last 2 weeks I had the chance to visit Spain and the Netherlands. While in Amsterdam I decided to try some Belgian beers. My only requirement is that I did not taste them before. I randomly picked these 3 beers:
- Maredsous Abbaye Blonde (6% alc)
- Hertog Jan Karakter (7.5% alc)
- La Chouffe Blonde (8% alc)
There is a wide variety of beers made in Belgium. Blonde, Trappist and Abbaye styles are ones I like the most. If you have never tried a Belgian beer, read on, and then you can check out more information on the Wikipedia Beer in Belgium webpage.
To this mix, I purchased a cheese to see how the beers fared with food (I know 1 cheese is a very small sample size). The cheese was Abdijkaas 50+, made in the Netherlands. This cheese had a think black rind which I removed. The cheese has a creamy colour with small bubbles. Quite aromatic! Soft and creamy in your mouth with a bitterness on the after taste. Nutty and creamy flavours to finish. A more intense flavour if you eat the rind. This cheese really had a strong aroma, which could scare off many people, but the flavour as mentioned was creamy and very pleasant. I would buy this cheese again. If you like Oka cheese, you will like Abijkaas.
Maredsous Abbaye Blonde
Light golden colour with sweet spices, caramel, malt, and overall a bit of sweetness on the nose. Medium hops, dry with a light body. Malt and sweet spices linger on the finish. Small bubbles play on your tongue. My favourite of the 3 beers. In general, I enjoy most Blonde beers that I try. They are lighter than Dubbel or Tripel beers. If you are just getting into Belgian beers, start with a blonde.
Hertog Jan Karakter
Karakter, or “Character”, is a medium-dark, amber-coloured beer. Light malty nose. It has a higher level of hops than other beers. It is dry and has a mild caramel flavour with some smokiness. No sweetness. The smokiness lasts on the finish. This was my second favourite beer.
La Chouffe Blonde
I have been told that this beer is available in Vancouver, although I have not tried it here. This beer has a medium apricot skin colour. Light malty and sweet spices on the nose, plus an odd “hot dog/wiener” aroma. Light plus body with a light level of hops. More of the hot dog/wiener flavour on the palate. Light bitterness and some malt too. My third favourite beer. The hot dog/wiener aroma and flavour did not work for me, so I cannot recommend this beer.
So how did these three beers stand up against the aromatic Abdijkaas? The Maredsous was too light for it, so the cheese aromas/flavours overpowered the beer. The Hertog with it’s Karakter did make a good pairing. The La Chouffe was also too light for the cheese.
If there are any private liquor stores in Vancouver or BC that want to bring in a new Belgian beer, please bring in the Maredsous and contact me, as I would love to enjoy this beer some more. Enjoy!