4 distinct Belgian beers to try

Belgian beer is among some of the most distinct in the world. For culinary academy students, finding pairings that go with Belgian beer is a great skill. With over 120 varieties and 580 brands, the Belgian selection can be overwhelming for both casual beers drinkers, as well as connoisseurs. For a well-rounded taste of Belgium to pair with your meals, try one of these selections.

Delirium Tremens
A spicy, blonde ale from the Huyghe Brewery in Ghent, Delirium Tremens was voted "Best Beer in the World" at the 2008 World Beer Championships. Created in 1988, this beer is recognizable by its packaging: a white bottle with a blue foil label dotted by the trademark pink elephant. Only slightly malty, this beer is a great addition to a seafood, turkey or pork meal. Check out the brewery's website for additional recipes to pair with their wide selection of beer!

Cantillon Lambic
Founded in 1900, Cantillon brewery is known for its variety of lambic beers, characterized by their tart nature. Popular in Brussels, these beers undergo a wild yeast fermentation process: Stored in open vats, the beer is exposed to naturally occurring yeasts in the air before a second fermentation process takes place in the bottle. The result is a bubbly beer, sometimes described as "cidery." In addition, lambics are frequently mixed with fruits to make them less sour. Pair anything sweet with these beers, as well as chicken and seafood.

Orval is a Trappist beer, heavily fermented and brewed by monks at the Abbaye d'Orval. Created in 1931 to finance the reconstruction of the property, this amber-colored beer is distinctively malty and makes a great aperitif. Other Trappist breweries include Chimay, Roquefort and Achel. The darker varieties of abbey beers pair well with meat, while the lighter selections work well with seafood.

Verboden Vrucht
Produced by well-known Belgian brewery, Hoegaarden, this beer translates to "Forbidden Fruit." Dark and strong, Verboden Vrucht has a strong aroma and a dry, but sweet taste. With a cult following in Belgium, others will buy this beer solely because of the label, which depicts Adam giving Eve a glass of beer in the Garden of Eden. Pair this heavier choice with a rich meal or as a dessert beer.

Students in culinary arts programs in all specialties will learn about the skill of pairing food and different types of alcohol. Although wine pairings tend to be the most discussed, due to the wide selection of international beers, especially those just within the confines of Belgium, the options are endless.

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