Seattle, WA - Belgianfest is tomorrow, for those procrastinators who are looking to scalp a ticket from someone. For those who already have your tickets, we would like to offer our pick from each brewery, that we feel is definitely worth your attention.
First Here is a breakdown of the beer styles featured at this event. Note, these are merely suggestions on what you should expect. Note, individual appreciation will obviously vary as everyone's palate is different.
Belgian-Style Flanders Oud Bruin or Oud Red Ales
This light- to medium-bodied deep copper to brown ale is characterized by a slight to strong lactic sourness, and with "Reds" sometimes a balanced degree of acetic acid. Brettanomyces produced flavors and aromas are not part of character. A fruity-estery character which is often cherry-like is apparent with no hop flavor or aroma. Flanders brown ales have low to medium bitterness and a cocoa-like character from roast malt. Roasted malt character in aroma and flavor is acceptable at low levels. A very low degree of malt sweetness may be present and in balance with the acidity produced by lactobacillus activity. Oak-like or woody characters may be pleasantly integrated into overall palate. Chill haze is acceptable at low serving temperatures. Some versions may be more highly carbonated and, when bottle conditioned, may appear cloudy (yeast) when served. These final beers are often blended old with new before packaging in order to create the brewer’s intended balance of characters.
This medium-bodied, red to dark brown colored ale has a malty sweetness and chocolate-like caramel aroma. A light hop flavor and/or aroma is acceptable. Dubbels are also characterized by low-medium to medium bitterness. No diacetyl is acceptable. Yeast generated fruity esters (especially banana) are appropriate at low levels. Head retention is dense and mousse-like. Chill haze is acceptable at low serving temperatures. Often bottle conditioned a slight yeast haze and flavor may be evident.
Tripels are often characterized by a complex, sometimes mild spicy character. Clove-like phenolic flavor and aroma may be evident at extremely low levels. Yeast-generated fruitiness, including banana esters, are also common, but not necessary. These pale/light-colored ales may finish sweet, though any sweet finish should be light. The beer is characteristically medium and clean in body with an equalizing hop/malt balance and a perception of medium to medium high hop bitterness. Traditional Belgian Tripels are often well attenuated. Brewing sugar may be used to lighten the perception of body. Its sweetness will come from very pale malts. There should not be character from any roasted or dark malts. Low hop flavor is acceptable. Alcohol strength and flavor should be perceived as evident. Head retention is dense and mousse-like. Chill haze is acceptable at low serving temperatures. Traditional Tripels are bottle conditioned, may exhibit slight yeast haze but the yeast should not be intentionally roused. Oxidative character if evident in aged Tripels should be mild and pleasant.
Quadrupels or "Quads" are characterized by the immense presence of alcohol and balanced flavor, bitterness and aromas. Its color is deep amber to rich chestnut/garnet brown. Often characterized by a mousse-like dense, sometimes amber head will top off a properly poured and served quad. Complex fruity aroma and flavor emerge reminiscent of raisins, dates, figs, grapes, plums often accompanied with a hint of winy character. Caramel, dark sugar and malty sweet flavors and aromas can be intense, not cloying, while complementing fruitiness. Though well attenuated it usually has a full, creamy body. Hop characters do not dominate; low to low-medium bitterness is perceived. Perception of alcohol can be extreme. Clove-like phenolic flavor and aroma should not be evident. Chill haze is acceptable at low serving temperatures. Diacetyl and DMS should not be perceived. Well balanced with savoring/sipping drinkability. Oxidative character if evident in aged Quads should be mild and pleasant.
Belgian-Style Blonde Ale
Belgian-style blond ales are characterized by low yet evident hop bitterness, flavor, and sometimes aroma. Light to medium body and low malt aroma with a sweet, spiced and a low to medium fruity-ester character orchestrated in flavor and aroma. Sugar may be used to lighten perceived body. They are blonde to golden in color. Noble-type hops are commonly used. Low levels of phenolic spiciness from yeast byproducts may be perceived. Diacetyl should not be perceived. Acidic character should not be present. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures.
Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale *See Strong Golden
Belgian pale strong ales are pale to golden in color with relatively light body for a beer of its alcoholic strength. Often brewed with light colored Belgian "candy" sugar, these beers are well attenuated. The perception of hop bitterness is medium-low to medium -high, with hop flavor and aroma also in this range. These beers are highly attenuated and have a perceptively deceiving high alcoholic character—being light to medium bodied rather than full bodied. The intensity of malt character should be low to medium, often surviving along with a complex fruitiness. Very little or no diacetyl is perceived. Herbs and spices are sometimes used to delicately flavor these strong ales. Low levels of phenolic spiciness from yeast byproducts may also be perceived. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures.
Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale
Belgian dark strong ales are amber to dark brown in color. Often, though not always, brewed with dark Belgian "candy" sugar, these beers can be well attenuated, ranging from medium to full-bodied. The perception of hop bitterness is low to medium, with hop flavor and aroma also in this range. Fruity complexity along with the soft flavors of roasted malts add distinct character. The alcohol strength of these beers can often be deceiving to the senses. The intensity of malt character can be rich, creamy, and sweet with intensities ranging from medium to high. Very little or no diacetyl is perceived. Herbs and spices are sometimes used to delicately flavor these strong ales. Low levels of phenolic spiciness from yeast byproducts may also be perceived. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures.
Belgian-Style White (or Wit)/Belgian-Style Wheat
Belgian white ales are very pale in color and are brewed using unmalted wheat and malted barley and are spiced with coriander and orange peel. Coriander and light orange peel aroma should be perceived as such or as an unidentified spiciness. Phenolic spiciness and yeast flavors may be evident at mild levels. These beers are traditionally bottle conditioned and served cloudy. An unfiltered starch and yeast haze should be part of the appearance. The low to medium body should have some degree of creaminess from wheat starch. The style is further characterized by the use of noble-type hops to achieve low hop bitterness and little to no apparent hop flavor. This beer has no diacetyl and a low to medium fruity-ester level. Mild acidity is appropriate.
Belgian-Style Gueuze Lambic
Old lambic is blended with newly fermenting young lambic to create this special style of lambic. Gueuze is always refermented in the bottle. These unflavored blended and secondary fermented lambic beers may be very dry or mildly sweet and are characterized by intense fruity-estery, sour, and acidic aromas and flavors. These pale beers are brewed with unmalted wheat, malted barley, and stale, aged hops. Sweet malt characters are not perceived. They are very low in hop bitterness. Diacetyl should be absent. Characteristic horsey, goaty, leathery and phenolic character evolved from Brettanomyces yeast is often present at moderate levels. Cloudiness is acceptable. These beers are quite dry and light bodied. Vanillin and other woody flavors should not be evident. Versions of this beer made outside of the Brussels area of Belgium cannot be true lambics. These versions are said to be "lambic-style" and may be made to resemble many of the beers of true origin.
Historically, traditional gueuze lambics are dry and completely attenuated, exhibiting no residual sweetness either from malt, sugar or artificial sweeteners. Some versions often have a degree of sweetness, contributed by sugars or artificial sweeteners. Competition organizers may choose to subcategorize this style into A) Traditional and B) Sweet ● Artificial sweeteners are sometimes used in some brands.
French & Belgian-Style Saison
Beers in this category are golden to deep amber in color. There may be quite a variety of characters within this style. Generally: They are light to medium in body. Malt aroma is low to medium-low. Esters dominate the aroma, while hop character, complex alcohols, herbs, spices, low Brettanomyces character and even clove and smoke-like phenolics may or may not be evident in the overall balanced beer. Malt flavor is low but provides foundation for the overall balance. Hop bitterness is moderate to moderately assertive. Herb and/or spice flavors, including black pepper-like notes, may or may not be evident. Fruitiness from fermentation is generally in character. A balanced small amount of sour or acidic flavors is acceptable when in balance with other components. Earthy, cellar-like, musty aromas are okay. Diacetyl should not be perceived. Chill or slight yeast haze is okay. Often bottle conditioned with some yeast character and high carbonation. French & Belgian-Style Saison may have Brettanomyces characters that are slightly acidity, fruity, horsey, goaty and/or leather-like.
- Anacortes Sour Brown. ABV: 9.10%
Anacortes Belgian Trippel Ale aged for 51 weeks in a wine barrel (Merlot) with Brettanomyces anomoulis. All Bairds Pilsner Malt and 150# Cane Sugar. Hopped with Saaz hops.
- Dark Water Dubbel. ABV: 8.20%
"This Belgian Dubbel style is brewed with chocolate roasted wheat, honey and turbinado sugar, fermented to 8.2% ABV and hopped for balance with German Noble varieties."
Our Thoughts. You Should Try This. This brewery has made its fair share of Belgian-style ales in the past, so we aren't too worried about their ability to make a Dubbel.
Big Al Brewing
- Belgian Tripel. ABV: 9.00%
Big Al Tripel is a pale golden Belgian-style strong ale featuring the warm spicy flavors of a Belgium yeast complimented by a crisp, light peppery rye finish.
Our Thoughts. You Should Try This. We have had the opportunity on many occasions to enjoy this beer and we think that Al makes a fair representation of the style.
- Local Hero #9 Belgian Dubbel. ABV: 7.00%
Nate Muller won the 2010 best of show from Seattle Weekly Homebrew Competition. This beer is complex on many levels. Rich caramel-chocolatey malt flavors, soft warming alcohol, with an inviting balance of flavors from the uses of Belgian yeast; dark fruit esters and spicy pnenois
Big Time Brewing
- Trombibulator 2010. ABV 10.00%
A Northwest interpretation of a Belgian tripel, Trombipulator was 1st brewed to commemorate Big Time's five hundredth brew. A very big and pale beer, it weighs in at 18 degrees Plato (1.072 Specific Gravity), and is very heavily hopped.
Our Thoughts. You Should Try This. This beer year after year doesn’t let us down. A word to the wise, it’s best to stick to one sample of this beer, given its high gravity.
- Saison Grisette Farmhouse Ale.
Black Raven Brewing
- “Pour Les Oiseaux” ABV: 6.2%
Four grain farmhouse ale/saison aged in French oak white wine barrels with brettanomyces.
- “Seasonal Farmhouse IPA” ABV: 7.7%
US/Belgian style IPA with brettanomyces
Our Thoughts. You Should Try This. Thoughts lean towards Belgian-style India Pale Ales and other hopped bitter Belgian-style ales.
- “La Petite Mort” (cask version) ABV: 8.8%
Cask version of our seasonal strong abbey brown ale with additional ingredients such as rum soaked oak chips, black mission figs, porcini mushrooms and cocoa nibs.
Boundary Bay Brewing
- Big Belgian Ale. ABV: 6.60%
Light in body, medium hoppiness, earthy and spicy with a Belgian yeast finish.
- Boundary Bay Tripel
A strong, pale golden, medium bodied ale. Is mildly spicy with a medium hop bitterness. The aroma is of fruit, Belgian Abbey yeast and alcohol. It is a complex beer with a warming flavor and a long dry finish.
Our Thoughts. You Should Try. Another rare treat not often available outside the pub. Consider this in your list of Must Try beers.
Der Blokken Brewery
- Belgian Gold. ABV: 8.50%
Der Blokken’s first Belgian is light and golden in color with light-fruit & hop aromas. Fermented with Duvel yeast, this ale finishes at 1.018.
Elliot Bay Brewing
- Belgian Black IPA. ABV: 6.00%
Cask Conditioned Dry-hopped Belgian Black Ale
Our Thoughts. Must Try. With the recent release of the formal guidelines for the American-style Black Ale, this should be interesting spin on the new style with a Belgian twist.
- Brett von Boorian. ABV: 4.75%
Blend of sour beers barrel-aged for 22 months
- Imperial von Boorian. ABV: 7.25%
Dry-hopped Belgian Strong Pale Ale
- Red von Boorian. ABV: 5.00%
Delightful Belgian-style Red Ale
- Bête Blanche. ABV: 6.9%
Deceptive and delicious Belgian-style Tripel. A twist on the French expression “Bête Noire”. An extremely drinkable, blonde and somewhat treacherous. Brewed entirely from Pale malt and augmented in the boil with clear Belgian candy sugar. Bittered with German Northern Brewer and finished with Styrian Goldings hops.
- Bête Noel Belgian-style Ale. ABV: 8.5%
The dark side of the holidays, as treacherous as its paler sister. Brewed with Pale, Munich, Castle Aromatic and roasted barley and black malts, with amber Turbinado sugar added to the kettle. Bittered with German Northern Brewer, finished with Hallertauer hops and fermented with Belgian Golden Ale yeast.
- Toro Oro Yerba Mate Tripel. ABV: 7.2%
Brewed with organic pale and pale demerara sugar. Bittered with German Northern Brewer and finished with Czech Saaz and Amarillo hops. 1.2 grams yerba mate per pint. Opening gravity 16.4° Plato (1.067); alcohol 6% by weight.
- Yuzu’s. Sour Belgian-Style Golden Ale. ABV:4.5%
Yuzu’s is made with 100% pale malt, Turbinado sugar and Belgian Golden ale yeast. Bittered with Magnum and finished with Styrian Goldings hops. Organic dried lemon peel is added at the end of the boil, and yuzu juice is added both pre- and post-fermentation. Aged in a wine barrel for 8 months, inoculated with Roeselare and Lactobacillus.
- Groaning Board Trappist-style Table Beer. ABV: 5.3%
Brewed with organic pale, C-15, C-60 and Munich malt; bittered with UK Fuggles and finished with Czech Saaz.
Our Thoughts. You Should Try This. When trying this Abbey Ale, think a nice turkey leg with a heart loaf bread and some fatty cheeses.
- Backhanded Compliment (Belgian-Style IPA). ABV: 6.2
Brewed in the tradition of American IPAs , but with Belgian yeast. Organic pale, Munich, Cara-Hell and Cara-Vienne malts and bittered with Chinook and finished with Amarillo and Citra hops. Fermented with Westmalle yeast.
- Mystere de Tonneau
The latest in our Mystery series. This one has spent some quality time in the wood in the company of critters.
- Blood Funnel-Saison
Sasion with blackberries and peppercorns.
Our Thoughts. You Should Try this. Typically, because of its color, the Saison has been an oasis of refreshment during the warmer months, after one has parched themselves. Historically this style of beer can be found during even the coldest of winter nights. As an added bonus you can take heart in that head brewer Matt Lincoln once worked at Chicago’s Goose Island, the home of Matilda.
- Donkey Deux! ABV: 7.9%
Belgian-style Dubbel brewed with Pilsner, Munich, Special B Malts and 110 lbs of Belgian candi sugar. Fermented with traditional Belgian yeast, conditioned over 3 months, then bottle-conditioned. Dubbel Donkey is big on classic Belgian flavor!
Georgetown Braggot ABV: 8.5%
Our version of this less-than-famous style of mead is technically a bottle-conditioned ale using local blackberry honey fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. We add Northern Brewer hops, and the malt bill includes Munich, Pilsner and Special B malts.
Our Thoughts. Consider It. There isn’t another brewery at the festival that is offering a Mead so we say go for it!
- IX Gold-Belgium Strong Golden Ale. ABV: 9%
Strong Belgian style ale. Light in color. Brewed with Pilsner malt, carapils and C40. Turtinado Sugar in kettle. Hopped with Goldings. 2010 NABA award in category.
Belgian Quadruppel aged in brandy and bourbon barrels for one year. Four different yeast strains. Four different sugars in boil. Flavors of fig, brown sugar and port.
Our Thoughts. Consider It. As the only ‘Quad’ at the festival you shouldn’t pass this up. Word to the wise, have just one of these and come back later if you are feeling brave.
- Cask of Menage-a-Frog: ABV 9%
Dry-Hopped Edition - Our award winning Belgian-style Trippel dry-hopped with Amarillo Hops.
Our Thoughts. Consider It. The classic Belgian-style Tripel. Originally created by former WABC Executive Arlen Harris. Whether this is your first beer of the festival or your last you won’t be let down.
- Cask of Menage-a-Frog: Berry Edition ABV 9%
Our award winning Belgian-style Trippel infused with Marionberries
Lazy Boy Brewing
- Belgian Golden Ale
Belgian Strong Ale made with traditional malts, hops, and a unique strain of yeast to create a flavor packed experience.
Naked City Brewery
- Gilda American Wild Ale ABV: 8.5%
Belgian Style Dubbel aged 6 months in a Merlot barrel. Gilda is reminiscent of the Flanders Red Ales of Belgium. Slightly sweet and pleasantly tart with plenty of wine character from the French oak barrel.
Our Thoughts. You Should Try This. If you appreciate beers such as Russian River Deviation, then you might like this beer. Just be wary of expecting similar characteristics, as each brewery has a different definition of a Wild Ale.
- Saison De La Ville Nue ABV: 6.00%
Belgian Style Saison brewed with 8% Rye Malt. Subtle banana notes from the unique yeast strain balanced with a biscuity dryness contributed by the rye.
- Odin Pearl White Ale ABV: 5.1%
Sweet and spicy Belgian hybrid Wit. 15 IBU’s
Paradise Creek Brewery
- Paradise Hoe Style: Belgian Wit. ABV: 5.9%
With notes of orange, banana and clove, this crisp yet creamy wit is a refreshing change to all of the heavy winter beers. It is not too early to think spring is it?
- Pike Monk’s Uncle Tripel Ale ABV: 9.00%
Big, full-bodied and complex with a yeasty nose, fruity esters and malty dryness. Hints of honey, spice and exotic fruit play with the senses. Powerful, yet gentle.
- Pike Tandem Double Ale ABV: 7.50%
Rich, round and complex, with flavors of fruit, freshly baked bread and treacle. Deep and dark like a porter, yet surprisingly satisfying, smooth and sensual; semi-dry without bitterness.
Our Thoughts. You Should Try This. It’s always refreshing to try something different. Think Strong Ale with a Belgian-style flair.
- Biere de Mars
An aromatic and flavorful, orange hued Belgian style farmhouse ale with a soft, subtly sweet malt profile and a classic, fruit & spice, yeast profile.
- Sour Disel
A sour brown hued ale aged in a old Bordeaux barrel.
Our Thoughts. You Should Try This. This year’s festival is flush with plenty of traditional Belgian-style ales, but too few so-called “Sour” ales. Whether you have no idea what a ‘Sour’ ale is or are a pucker addict, this will be your shot to enjoy one, at the hands of a Washington brewer.
- Dubbel Hook ABV: 8.00%
A traditional Belgian Dubbel. Reddish brown hue (27 SRM), low hops (25 BU), high ABV (8%). We fermented in an open vessel using high gravity Trappist yeast, then transferred to kegs, krausening for natural carbonation (cask conditioned). Dubbel Hook’s character is balanced more toward the phenol (clove) side as opposed to isoamyl acetate (banana). It was brewed using 2-Row, Belgian specialty malts, sugar, and noble hops.
- Belgian Winter-Belgian Dark Strong Ale
This is an Abbey version of our 10 Below Winter Ale. The rich chocolate flavors are balanced with the fruity esters generated by the yeast.
Our Thoughts. You Should Try This. As the only Belgian-style Strong Dark Ales at this year’s festival, now would be a great opportunity to enjoy a little variety, amongst all the Dubbels and Tripels being offered.
- Tripel 7 ABV: 9.00%
Delicate clove & whit pear flavors give way to a hint of apricot. Light in body, the beer is a model of deception at 9% ABV.
Silver City Brewery
- La Fat-Belgian Inspired Scotch Ale ABV: 9%
Silver City’s “FAT Scotch Ale” fermented with Belgian ale yeast noted for creating big, spicy phenol character. La Fat goes through a secondary fermentation with a proprietary blend of micro organisms on French oak for 14 months. The result is a dark, complex ale that combines classic Belgian characteristics with Scotch Ale like toffee and caramel notes with hints of oak and peat.
- Katy Saison ABV: 6.00%
A simple but honest of interpretation of the style. A pale beer with 10% wheat and firm hop bitterness. Finished with Sterling, Hersbrucker, and Williamette hops. Our Saison gets its name from the street where our new production facility resides in burgeoning Bremerton.
Our Thoughts. You Should Try It. This brewery so far has managed to release publicly, three Belgian-style ales before this one. It’s a safe bet this one is right up there in regards to reflection of style. Definitely one not to miss.
Snipes Mt. Brewery
- Twangzister #3 ABV: 8.5%
A three year old Belgian strong aged in a bourbon barrel with house cultures and obnoxious amounts of Montmorency cherries, blended with a non-infectious Belgian strong that was fermented with two strains of Belgian yeast and Belgian candy syrup.
Snoqualmie Falls Brewing
- Triskaidekaphobia-Belgian Tripel
Reminiscent of the Millennial Madness we created 10 years ago, Triskaidekaphobia is a great balance of crisp clean malt, lemony hops and spice.
Unfiltered but clear to the eye, Trisky is made from 100% German pilsner malt, Belgian candi sugar, 100% Czech Saaz hops and Belgian ale yeast. There's no need to be afraid!
Our Thoughts. You Should Try It. As anniversary beers go this is an original, both in regards to label artwork and the name itself. Don’t pass up a chance to have this on draft, since this probably hasn’t been poured at many pubs around the state.
- Spring Fever-Belgian Gran Cru
Since we had the belgian yeast propigated, Rande decided to make a classic Belgian Wit. Corriander and orange peel makes our version spicy and refreshing.
- Wit-Wit Bier
We saved some of last years Sprnig Fever just for this event. Spring Fever is brewed with pale, Munich, C-15, C-40 and crystal malts, coriander and Belgian Ale yeast.
It has an aroma of tropical fruits and a complex, malty flavor.
Three Skulls Brewing
- Belgian Tripel. ABV 9.00%
A traditional Belgian Tripel brewed with Belgian candy sugar and aromatic hops.
Two Beers Brewing
- Crooked Belgian Wit
Brewed with dried orange peel and fresh ground coriander
Our Thoughts. You Should Try It. Don’t even think of comparing this with Blue Moon. This is a true craft beer, with all the potential flaws expected.
- Cask Dry Peeled Crooked Belgian Wit
Well, that’s our thoughts, so get out there and start tasting! For more information about the festival and where you can still get tickets, visit the Belgianfest website.