Belgium is known for being small and boring. Even a razor sharp rift along language lines that threatens to permanently shatter this country fails to make international news. Hell, even Belgians have trouble getting interested in it.
However, Belgium does have good things going for it. Mussels, waffles, frites, chocolate, and most importantly: beer. Belgium has, depending on who you talk to, between 300 and 4 trillion different types of beers. They all have their own glasses and history, which can be up to 1,000 years old. And if you’ve been doing something for 1,000 years, you’re bound to learn a couple things.
OK, they’re not all good, in fact some I’ve tried are too bitter, too gasoliney, or too sickly sweet. But for the most part they are fiercely delicious.
One of my favorite places to go in Brussels to quaff some unique Belgian brews is ‘Moeder Lambic.’ Located behind St. Gilles’ city hall, and about fifteen minutes walk from my place they have a menu thicker than any restaurant I’ve been to. It lists the strange and delightful brews attainable within, arranged by type. The staggering variety of dusty bottles that cram the high shelves testify to the fact. As a truly Belgian perk you can help yourself to a selection of Belgian comics (‘strips’ to you) in the window bays.
But even the beer-passionate Moeder Lambic can’t get ahold of Belgium’s best beer.
That honour goes to my fellow Canadian, and Belgian hockey legend Corey Cornish, who was given three bottles of Westvleteren last week.
On the occasion of a visit from the legendary DFS and Mighty Jo Briggs we sampled the beverages. They were good. Really good. My sluggish palate doesn’t equip me to describe the experience in flowering, adjective-strewn prose, so I’ll just break it down as follows:
Blonde: 5.8% light, bright, and clear
The 8: 8% dark and rich
The 10: 10.2% the grandaddy
Though my tastes are not that refined, I was able to identify each one as delicious as all anything. With the 10 being my favorite. They are all Trappist beers. Because Westvleteren Brewery is in an honest-to-God Abbey, The Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren. And the beer is universally acclaimed to be the best in the world. I could probably qualify that statement, but I won’t bother, because God is on my side.
Seriously, unlike some other ‘Trappist’ beers, which are only brewed according to the methods of the monks of times past, these actual monks brew this world-class beer themselves. And they don’t make alot of it, because they got other things to do. Like serve God, to name the most critical example. So even though demand for the beer is intense, they only output 4750 hL a year, an amount they refuse to increase despite commercial demands.
And you can’t buy it anywhere but the Abbey, which is nowhere near where I live. Nor is it close to any population or distribution centre. And, even if you do make the trek out there, which you would only do for the express purpose of getting some of their beer, you can only get one crate. If they happen to have any, that is. And then, only if you’ve preordered. If not: tough luck and may God have mercy on your thirst.