Fries, waffles and speculoos. Yes, you cannot leave Belgium without eating those at least once. But, Belgium is also generous about drinks. Here’s the three drinks you must try in Belgium.
No surprises, the first drink to be mentioned is beer. Personally I am quite indifferent to beers but Belgium still astonishes me as it is home to more than 100 breweries and 1500 kinds of beer – despite its relatively small territory. Some of the famous ones within and abroad the country are of course Duvel, Leffe, Stella Artois and Hoegaarden. You may be familiar with these, but there are hundreds more!
With so many options to choose from, it is quite difficult to pin down the best ones as it becomes totally personal. There are trappist beers, ales, blondes, pale lagers, white beers and so on. It is certain that you will find something for your own likes.
While the list is almost never-ending, you should definitely try one of the trappist beers. These are brewed in monasteries and monks actually take part in the process of production. Getting qualified as one is not that easy and there are only six of them in Belgium: Chimay, Westmalle, Achel, Orval, Rochefort and Westvleteren. The names do not indicate the kind of brewing but the origin of place.
Additionally, the cherry beer is also something different: Kriek or the girl beer as Belgians call it. It is made with sour Morello cherries and produced by many different Belgian brands among which Lindemans is the most known one. Kriek is perfect if you are looking for a sweet fruity beer.
Belgian beers are also famous for the particular way they are served. Every beer has its own glass and coaster. If you fancy collecting beer coasters, Belgium will treat you well. To try beers and collect coasters if you wish, my favorite spots are Delirium Café in Brussels, Dulle Griet in Gent and The Capital in Leuven.
Jenever, known as the Belgian gin, is a special spirit with juniper flavor. Starting with a base of malt wine, it’s distilled three times and then flavored with juniper.
This Belgian spirit has a strange history with unexpected obstacles and different uses. Dating back to the 16th century, it was first used as a medicine. However, during the 17th century, wars affected jenever production in Belgium in a negative way and this unique spirit started to migrate towards the Netherlands, France and Germany. These countries together with Belgium are the only ones that are qualified to produce jenever today.
Industrial revolution helped jenever become popular again with a larger scope of production until the WWI which destroyed the distilleries. Furthermore, the Belgian government put a ban on jenever production in 1919 due to the excessive amounts of liqueur consumption, which lasted for 66 years.
Given all these hardships, jenever had a tough time surviving in Belgium. Maybe that’s why it is not as popular as beer or maybe that’s why beer got so popular in Belgium.
Putting the history aside, jenever is tasty and generous in flavour. While plain jenever is fine, chocolate jenever is simply heaven. There are dozens of flavours and some of them are actually beyond imagination: bubblegum, waffle and even cuberdon! To taste these, you just need to find a pub with jenever. Probably you won’t be able to find all you are looking for in one place, but if you could, that place would be Druepelkot in Gent.
So much alcohol requires a sweet break and that would be the Belgian chocolate. Belgians surely mastered the art of making chocolate. Milk or dark, with peanuts or hazelnuts, Belgian chocolates are always delicious. It is one of the most amazing things about this country, even the streets smell like chocolate! And, of course, there is hot chocolate in Belgium, too.
Maybe you are not so impressed about the idea of drinking plain hot chocolate. If so, I’d like to introduce my favorite spot in whole Belgium to you: Quetzal Chocoladebar.
Quetzal Chocolebar can be found in Leuven and Antwerp, and also a few smaller cities. The place is nothing fancy, plain decoration with plain chairs and tables. But, the chocolate, oh it’s fancy.
At Quetzal, you can get a chocolate milk with your own preference: white chocolate, milk chocolate, black chocolate or mixed. If you want more, there are also many other options like chocomilk with marshmallows. All these simply delicious drinks are served with a bite of brownie. And, I promise you will love these.