When it comes to a discussion of the places that brew the world’s best beer, Belgium is never far from the conversation – despite its unassuming size, Belgium is practically unrivalled in the sheer range of styles and the quality of beers it produces.
The brewing of beer in Belgium has a tradition that stretches back through the centuries centuries, and its consumption is an integral part of the nation’s culture and identity.
With such a bewildering array to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, so to help, here are our picks for the 29 best Belgian beers for you to hunt down and sample.
The Best Belgian Beers List
1. Chimay Blue (Chimay Brewery)
One of Belgium’s most famous Trappist beers, and for good reason. The Chimay Blue is a strong, rich dark ale of 9% ABV with a sweet malty taste and plenty of complex flavors lying just beneath the surface.
You may be able to detect notes of fruit, caramel, pepper and much more as you savor this exceptional brew. The same brewery also produces several other beers – as well as a well-known cheese – all of which are also worth sampling.
2. La Chouffe (Brasserie d’Achouffe)
La Chouffe Blonde is a classic strong Belgian pale ale that boasts an ABV of 8%. In the glass, it displays a golden color and a fluffy white head.
The nose is floral, and when you taste it, you can expect a pleasantly hoppy flavor with notes of fruit, coriander and perhaps some gentle hints of other spices.
The same brewery produces several other excellent beers, but this is their flagship brew, making this the one to try first – and next in line should be the Chouffe IPA.
Only a handful of monasteries around the world officially produce Trappist beer, and the majority of them are located in Belgium.
Belgian Trappist breweries all produce outstanding beer, but even among these consistently exceptional brews, the Rochefort 10 stands out.
It’s a quadrupel with an ABV of 11.3% that displays a dark brown color. The nose is spicy and sweet with notes of raisins, caramel and yeast, and the flavor profile is rich, sweet complex – again, with plenty of spice.
This is a serious beer to sit and appreciate and is a big favorite with almost every fan of the Trappist style.
4. Pauwel Kwak (Bosteels Brewery)
This beer is perhaps most famous for its unique glass that requires a wooden rack to stand it in. However, Kwak is no gimmick, and the beer itself is a strong pale ale with plenty of merit.
The taste is well balanced between malt and hops, with subtle undertones of fruit, caramel and much more, with everything combining to create a surprising and unique brew.
The story behind the glass is that this beer was originally serve to coachmen who were unable to leave their vehicle. Instead, they were given their beer in a special glass that was hung on the side of the coach, and the modern glass is a nod to this tradition.
5. Delirium Tremens (Huyghe Brewery)
Delirium Tremens was acclaimed as the “Best Beer in the World” at the 2008 Beer Championships in Chicago, Illinois.
It’s a big and bold Belgian pale ale with a high alcohol content of 8.5%, which makes it an aptly-named beer.
Yet while the alcohol is prominent in the taste, it doesn’t overpower the other flavors, and you’ll also find a balance of hops, malt and citrus with a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. A high-quality Belgian beer that shouldn’t be missed.
6. Delirium Nocturnum (Huyghe Brewery)
The Huyghe Brewery might be best known for its Delirium Tremens, but if you get the chance to sample the slightly rarer Delirium Nocturnum, make sure you take it – because, for some, it’s an even better beer.
This one is a strong dark Belgian-style ale, which, like the Tremens, packs a respectable ABV of 8.5% – and, as with the Tremens, the alcohol adds a pleasant boozy undertone to the flavor rather than dominating it.
This is combined with a sweet maltiness with hints of caramel or toffee and a long-lasting aftertaste to savor. Which version you prefer will ultimately be down to you, but for those who enjoy dark beers, this one is sure to be a hit.
7. Kasteel Donker (Van Honsebrouck Brewery)
The Van Honsebrouck Brewery produces several beers in their Kasteel range, and every one of them is an excellent tipple. However, perhaps the pick of them all is the donker, a quadrupel with a whopping 11% ABV.
In the glass, the beer has a dark color with a thick white head. It has a smooth mouthfeel and a complex flavor profile that is dominated by sweet malt reminiscent of molasses but underpinned by rich spices like cinnamon and cloves.
An excellent brew for those who like their beers dark and strong. If you enjoy this, make sure you also try the Kasteel Tripel, another high-quality beer from the same brewery.
8. Hoegaarden (Hoegaarden Brewery)
Among the world’s most famous wheat beers and for good reason. Hoegaarden is still produced in Hoegaarden village where beer has been brewed since the 12th century.
The modern iteration of Hoegaarden has been brewed there since the mid-1980s and is infused with cinnamon and orange to give it the unmistakable refreshing taste we all know and love.
At 4.9% ABV, it isn’t a particularly strong beer, making the ideal drink to sit and enjoy on a warm summer’s afternoon.
9. Westmalle Tripel (Brouwerij Westmalle)
One of Belgium’s famous Trappist beers and without doubt, one of the best. The Westmalle Tripel is a light golden beer with a frothy, fizzy head and a malty aroma that may suggest bananas and spices like cloves.
The subtle taste of alcohol is understated, which is a surprise in a beer of 9.5% ABV. Instead, the dominant flavors are things like yeast, bread and banana.
Belgium produces several excellent beers in this style, but this one will take some beating. Also, look out for the dubbel from the same brewery, a dark version that is almost as good.
10. Duvel (Duvel Moortgat Brewery)
The Belgians know a thing or two about their beer, so anything that comes high in the country’s list of best-sellers must have something going for it. “Duvel” is Dutch for “devil”, and the name probably comes from the fiendishly high alcohol content for a beer of this style.
Not so many pale ales come in at 8.5% ABV – and very few hold the alcohol content as well as this beer without it coming to dominate the taste.
That said, the alcohol is a prominent element in the flavor profile, although it’s well balanced with fresh, crisp notes of citrus. This is a beer for those who like their beer to have a kick, although there’s far more to this brew than just the booze.
11. Duvel Tripel Hop Cashmere (Duvel Moortgat Brewery)
A recent release from Duvel is the Tripel Hop Cashmere, an IPA style beer that uses the Cashmere hops variety to create a deliciously bitter beer with an ABV of 9.5%.
The typical IPA flavor is complemented by a range of fruity notes that include things like citrus, pine and for some, perhaps even strawberry. This beer seems to be a limited edition, so you might have trouble finding one at the moment.
However, if Duvel decides to brew another batch and you see one on offer, make sure you snap it up while you have the chance.
12. Westvleteren XII (Westvleteren Brewery)
Among Belgium’s most mythical beers and for many of those lucky enough to try one, possibly the best beer in the world.
This beer is only brewed in small quantities at the Westvleteren Trappist monastery in north-western Belgium, and technically, you can only buy it – with a prior appointment – directly from the monastery in person.
Sometimes, bottles appear on the black market, but this beer is rare indeed. Its flavor profile is incredibly complex, and the experience of drinking it is different for everyone.
The best advice is to head to the monastery to acquire a crate for yourself and see how high it places on your all-time list of great beers.
13. Zenne Y Frontera (Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen)
This is currently rated as the #1 lambic beer on BeerAdvocate’s list of peer-reviewed brews, so if you are interested in exploring this typically Belgian style of beer, this one should be among your priorities.
It has a respectable rather than excessive ABV of 7%, and the beer is aged for 12 months in 40-year-old casks before being put into bottles, giving it a rich and complex taste.
The flavor is light and refreshing with fruity and aromatic notes of lemon and oak along with hints of sherry. It’s easy to drink, and most people will happily put away several of them in a sitting. An exceptional example of what a lambic can be.
14. Leffe Rituel 9° (Leffe)
Leffe produces a selection of abbey-style beers, including a popular blonde, a tasty brune and the delicious Radiueuse.
However, arguably the best of them all is the Leffe Rituel 9°, a strong pale ale with a deep golden amber color and an ABV of 9%.
The long-lasting head is just off white, and the nose gives off aromas of bread, banana and perhaps something sweet like caramel – as well as more than a hint of alcohol.
The caramel carries over into the flavor and is accompanied by additional notes of more fruit and spices. A very enjoyable beer and one to look out for.
15. Grimbergen Blonde (Grimbergen)
Grimbergen is another brand that brews a range of good quality beers, including a blanche and a tripel as well as a very tasty IPA-style offering.
However, we are choosing the blonde as the one to sample since it’s an outstanding example of the style. It has an appealing golden color and produces a clean white head that dissipates quickly.
The taste is fresh and crisp rather than complex, making this a great beer for lighter moments when you just want to take it easy and don’t feel like anything more demanding.
16. Tripel Karmeliet (Bosteels Brewery)
Produced at the same brewery as the Pauwel Kwak, the Tripel Karmeliet is made using barley, oats and wheat from a rediscovered ancient monastic recipe.
The color is golden but tending towards orange or yellow, and pouring it into a glass produces a light and fluffy white head.
On the nose, you may be able to detect hints of honey, citrus and spice, and the flavor includes citrus fruits, cloves and a touch of hops.
At 8.4% ABV, the alcohol is not negligible, but like all the best beers of this sort, it complements the overall taste rather than dominating it. An exceptional tripel that most people rank highly.
17. Orval (Orval Brewery)
Orval is another of Belgium’s Trappist beers, and although it is perhaps more difficult to obtain than some others, it’s regarded as one of the finest by most of those who try it.
At 6.9% ABV, it is on the strong side, although not excessively so compared to many other Belgian beers. It goes through an ageing process that gives it a distinct hint of fruit, and the dry-hopping creates a highly aromatic beer.
Since it is bottle conditioned, the flavor will also change and develop if given time, so you may find that two bottles of Orval taste quite different from each other.
18. Piraat (Brouwerij Van Steenberge)
For those who like a certain potency in their pale ales, at 10.5%, the Piraat from Brouwerij Van Steenberge is one to track down and sample.
The color is a deep orange or golden yellow, and it has a bready, yeasty aroma with notes of banana and cloves – as well as a strong hint of alcohol.
The taste is warm and complex, with plenty of spices and more bread and yeast. The aftertaste is pleasantly sour, making this a beer to sit and sip and savor.
19. Gulden Draak (Brouwerij Van Steenberge)
Also from the Brouwerij Van Steenberge, Gulden Draak is a dark ale, also with a high alcohol content of 10.5% ABV. It has an appealing deep, dark brownish-red color with a beige head.
The nose is redolent of brown bread along with hints of raisins and spice, and the taste has a certain sweetness while also delivering everything promised by the nose.
Despite the high ABV, alcohol is not prominent in the flavor, making this a well-balanced, complex beer to appreciate.
20. Blanche de Namur (Brasserie du Bocq)
One of Belgium’s slightly less well-known wheat beers but definitely one that’s worth trying. It pours a hazy pale yellow and has a nose full of citrus, banana and floral notes.
The taste is light and refreshing, like many good wheat beers, although it has a slight tartness that makes it a more interesting option than many. Another great beer to drink on a hot and sunny afternoon.
21. Bouffonne (Huyghe Brewery)
This is a lesser-known beer from the Huyghe Brewery that produces the Delirium beers. This one can’t wait to get out of the bottle, so make sure you handle it with care before popping the top or you might end up losing some.
It has an attractive light golden color and is slightly cloudy in the glass. The head is big and fluffy but dissipates quickly.
The nose and taste are a little difficult to pin down, but you may find unusual notes of things like sauerkraut along with more expected flavors like fruit. An enigmatic, puzzling beer that most people will enjoy.
22. Vedett Blanche (Duvel Moortgat Brewery)
For wheat beer fans, another one to search out is the Vedett Blanche from the same brewery that produces Duvel. This is a light, fresh and easy-drinking beer that has a pale yellow color and plenty of depth to its flavor.
There are clear citrus notes in there along with banana, perhaps coriander and a touch of spice. A refreshing beer that hits the spot and one you’ll want to come back to again and again.
23. Maredsous Tripel (Duvel Moortgat Brewery)
Maredsous is the name of the abbey-style beers produced by the Duvel Moortgat Brewery, and the pick of them is the tripel – although the blonde and dubbel are also worth sampling.
The color of the tripel is dark gold, and the nose has strong hints of bread and yeast with a touch of ripe banana. The taste is as the nose suggests, with additional citrus flavors and a pleasant kick from the 10% ABV.
This brewery doesn’t often let you down, and this is another top beer from them.
24. Affligem Blonde (Affligem)
This blonde ale of 6.8% is widely available throughout Belgium as well as France and the Netherlands (it’s owned by Heineken) and is seen in those countries as something of a standard, go-to beer.
However, don’t let that put you off because it has a surprisingly complex flavor profile. You will taste hops, malt, citrus notes, spices and a pleasant bitterness, all perfectly balanced in this satisfying and well-rounded tipple.
25. Mort Subite Oude Kriek (Mort Subite)
For those who enjoy fruity beers, this classic cherry lambic should be high on your list of beers to sample. It’s a bright crimson color in the glass with a fizzy, frothy head that quickly disappears.
Of course, the predominant flavor is the cherry, but behind it, you’ll be able to detect some citrus and oak notes. Although not everyone’s favorite style, for those who enjoy fruity lambics, this beer is outstanding.
26. Geueze Lambic (Brasserie Cantillon)
For a taste of one of the best, most traditional unflavored lambic beers in Belgium, you could do a lot worse than laying your hands on a bottle of gueuze lambic from the Brasserie Cotillon.
It’s a lively, sparkling beer that has plenty of fizz in the glass and a deep orange color. The aromas are fresh, fruity and complex, and when you taste it, it is dry and yeasty in the mouth with a flavor profile that reminds you of the rustic countryside.
It’s also exceptionally easy to drink, and you may find yourself enjoying several of these in a sitting.
27. Rodenbach Grand Cru (Brouwerij Rodenbach)
A Flanders red ale that blends 1/3 young beer and 2/3 of a 2-year barrel-aged beer to create something truly special. It has a deep red color and a thick, creamy head when poured. The nose is rich and deep, with notes of fruits like pear and apricot.
The taste delivers an array of flavors that includes pears and tart apples as well as less prominent notes of cherry, blackberry and lemon. A well-balanced and complex beer that’s a joy to drink.
28. St Feuillien Blonde (Brasserie St Feuillien)
This is another brewery that produces several different beers, including a tripel and a brune. However, we’re choosing the blonde as our recommendation since it’s a classic example of the style.
It has an attractive golden color with a white frothy head, and the taste is crisp, clean and refreshing with strong notes of hops and fruit. An unassuming beer that can pass under the radar, but a tasty drop nonetheless.
29. Arend Tripel (Brouwerij De Ryck)
A delicious tripel with an alcohol content of 8% ABV and an amber color in the glass. The nose offers hints of peaches, lime, grapes and malt whiskey, and the flavor is complex and warming, with more malt along with bread, countryside fruits and much more.
Some might find it slightly too fruity for a tripel, but that’s part of what makes this beer so interesting to try, and most people won’t be left disappointed.
So many great beers to taste
Belgium has literally hundreds of beers that are worth sampling, and part of the fun of Belgian beer is in discovering some of the country’s lesser-known gems.
However, if you want to know which beers shouldn’t be missed, working your way through a few of the brews on our list will give you an excellent introduction to some of the best examples Belgium has to offer.