Belgium’s brewing tradition, which dates back more than 1,000 years, is the inspiration for Patrick Rue and other like-minded American brewers. It’s a craft that allows for a good deal of innovation: Depending on an ever-shifting set of style interpretations, Belgian ales can be brewed with fruit, herbs and spices such as cherries, apricots, raspberries, coriander, mace and even dandelion. Some are aged in oak, others in steel. Out of the thousands of beers produced by the country’s roughly 125 breweries, a handful make up the vanguard of the Belgian style: The orange-hued, white-headed Saison Dupont ($8; belgianexperts.com), for example, is a farmhouse-style ale bursting with grassy herbal notes and a faintly melon-like sweetness before its remarkably dry finish. More challenging is Cantillon’s Lou Pepe Kriek ($35; bierkraft.com), a tart lambic, or wild yeast–fermented ale, made with whole sour cherries and aged in wooden barrels for up to three years. Rochefort 10 ($8; merchantduvin.com), a mahogany-hued ale, comes from a Trappist monastery where beer has been brewed since (at least!) 1595. With its tawny, port-like flavors recalling fig, toffee, plum and cinnamon, it’s extremely complex and, at more than 11 percent alcohol, can improve with cellar time. The following are eight more superb ales inspired by these Belgian standard-bearers but made here in the United States.
The Best American Craft Beers, Belgian Style
A selection of top American
craft beers brewed in the style of centuries-old Belgian tradition.
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