Is there any other country quite as revered in the world of beer as Belgium?
While many start their continental beer journey in their local supermarket with commercialised brands such as Leffe and Duvel, it’s usually only a matter of time before they’re booking Eurostar tickets to Bruge, taking a pilgrimage to Brasserie d’Orval, before visiting the Lamic mecca: Brasserie Cantillon.
There is something to be holy revered about Belgium beers, though we often reserve such reverence for Quadruples that have been bottle conditioned and cellared for several decades, many of its everyday styles such as the humble saison or witbier carry equal levels of complexity, albeit in a more subtle, understated way.
You’d be mistaken to think all Belgium beers a banana-bubble-gum sweet: many beers from one of our nearest European neighbours manage to create freshing, acidic balance through mixed fermentation provided by cultures of lactobacillus and brettanomyces, while riding the undercurrents of a gourmand kitchen spice rack.
Swirling flavours that dance around your tongue when sampling some of these world-class beers leave you both refreshed and pining for more.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take a trip to West Flanders to sample fine examples of Belgium beer styles (though it helps… not that you’re getting there anytime soon thanks to Brexit and COVID-19, so it’s just as well!).
And while other breweries – such as Unity Brewing Co and Derbyshire’s Buxton Brewery – sometimes turn their hand to brewing these styles, its East London’s Solvay Society that solely focus on the brewing Belgium beer styles.
And with good reason.
Roman Hochuli – Head Brewer and co-founder of Solvay Society – hails from Brussels and brings vast technical knowledge to his craft, creating some fantastic beer styles, some of which we will delve into further in this episode.
This week’s brewery shoutout goes to our good friends over at Yeastie Boys. Enjoy their range of core and seasonal beers with a special 10% discount for our listeners by using the code HopForward when placing your order.