Belgium - Beers - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Belgium is famous for its mussels and the beers. They produce more than 365 kinds of beers more than the days of a year. Only a handful of beers in the country Orval, Chimay, Westvleteren, Rochefort, Westmalle and Achel can use the International Trappist Association logo that was created to protect the authenticity of the product.
One such abbey beer, Leffe was revived in 1952 by a brewer from Overijse. It is now owned in InBev Belgium, the European arm of global giant Anheuser –Busch InBev- and seemingly far from its abbey origins. In fact, it is brewed in Leuven and not Leffe, and now part of Dinant, a striking historic town on the river Meuse in the province of Namur.
The beer’s fascinating history dates back to the 13th century. It is told through videos and exhibits at the newly opened Maison Leffe, a hotel and visitor centre in a converted monastery of Dominican Sisters across the river from the site of the original brewery.
Flanders is rich in the variety of beers on offer, but how’s a person to get around them all without ending up in a puddle on the floor. One answer is tasting small quantities of a wide selection.
The Flemish beer association Zythos, which organises the country’s largest beer festival in Leuven in April, works with 10-centilitre samples, which is enough to get a good taste of the beer without losing the power of rational thought.
That’s something to keep in mind when visiting B taste in Bruges, a new concept in food halls. Its main attraction is 104 beer taps you get to operate yourself. B taste is housed in the Oud Sint-Jan site, on the grounds of the medieval hospital and in rooms once used to film the TV series Aspe.
It opened last month with the intention of running daily until 3rd January when it would move to weekends only. According to founder Peggy Bodelijn, however, the plan changed.
BTaste has its own kitchen, but nibbles will mainly be provided by a rotation of stand-holders and food trucks, so the selection will change regularly. When Flanders today visited, the menu was limited to burgers and spicy potatoes or three choices of quiche. But the organisers assure us the selection will be boarder once the venture finds its feet.
Of a lack of choice in the beers on offer, though, there’s no question: some 100 choices on any given day, from everyday offerings like Maes Pils and Leffe blonde to rarities like the Schelde-brouwerij range, Brouwerij Verzet, Prearis and of course, Brugge zot and Straffe Hendrick from Brugges brewery De Halve Maan. You pay Euro10 as a starter, which gives you a glass to keep and credit on a swipe card that registers exactly how much you poured. When your credit is up, refills are available for whatever sum you choose. You won’t get round everything in one day, but at least you will be able to walk out the door unaided!!
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