Nov. 18, 2006 – For any beer enthusiast, the only way to fully appreciate Belgian Beers, the most traditional and diverse beers on the planet, is inside a Belgian café bar itself. Much like in the UK, the best of Belgian Beers do not travel. They are available only to the locals.
Travel Time Ltd in association with British Airways Scheduled Service offers all beer lovers the chance to sample Belgian café life, and as an added bonus, visit two of the world’s most famous and important centres of brewing excellence, Chimay and Cantillon.
Tour highlights: Chimay Beer and Cheese from the Trappist monks of Scourmount Abbey. Lambic Beers and brewery tour at the Cantillon Brewery and museum. Nights out to sample the cafe bars and ‘Cuisine a la biere’ of both Brussels and Bruges. Return flights from Manchester with British Airways. Coach transfers to all destinations. Bed and breakfast in 3* accommodation for three nights. Fully escorted by an experienced tour manager.
Of the six Trappist beers Chimay is the most famous and perhaps the best. There are three distinct styles of Trappistenbier, of which the Chimay Red, White and Blue (as in the colour of the Chimay bottle cap) are world classics. The Red is the in the ‘double’ style, 7% in strength and deep copper red in colour. All Trappist beers are bittersweet, with the Red being the sweetest of the Chimay brews. Next is the White. Know officially as Chimay Triple, it is golden in colour and sharper in taste than the Red, partly due to an extra amount of hops.
Straight Lambic beers are difficult to find outside the local area. Specialist café bars will serve one or two types. The cider like still beer is tapped straight from the cask into jugs. Some bars serve Lambic like a Spanish Tapas, that is with salty snack.
One traditional Lambic brewery, Cantillon, produces a rare bottled version of straight Lambic available only to its visitors. The brewery is itself a working museum to the traditions of brewing and open to the public. Most Lambics undergo some additional processes before bottling. Something is needed to sweeten the brew and stimulate additional fermentation, giving the beer some sparkle. Lambic sweetened with candy sugar, the same used in Trappist ales, is called Faro, and is equally difficult to find.
A more widely available Lambic is Gueuze. This is produced by combining young (fermented six months) and old (two to three years) Lambics. The mixing stimulates the mature yeasts from the old into secondary fermentation on the unfermented sugars within the young beer. The result is a sharp almost tarty beer. Some Gueuze beers may be a less traditional blend of Lambic and standard ales. Several versions of bottled Gueuze are available in the UK, with draught versions best drunk locally.
The most famous and widely available Lambics are the fruit beers, available bottled and on draught around the world. The fruits traditionally used are cherries and raspberries producing Kriek and Frambozen (Framboise in French) respectively. Sugars from the fruit activates the secondary fermentation. The best examples use the whole fruit which then forms part of the sediment found in the bottle. Other fruits are often used producing over sweet brews. As ever, the traditional way is always best.
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