No.1 travel guide for Belgium. Discover Belgian beer and food in Antwerp.

Christmas beer: 'Tis the season to get jolly...


Email  •  Print

Published: 2014-11-20 14:10:01 +0100 / Last Updated: 12 months ago

The Christmas beer festival in Essen The Christmas beer festival in Essen
© BeerTourism.com


ANTWERP/ESSEN - The trees are clad in the most vivid colours imaginable and the first strong gust of wind send the leaves swirling to the ground. The brewers know what is in store for them. Christmas beer A devoted winter beer fan
© BeerTourism.com
They are attuned to the rhythm of the seasons and rush to their brewing kettles to start preparations for the annual Christmas beer.

At this time of year, beer lovers are eagerly looking forward to the new harvest of brews that they will enjoy relaxing in front of an open fire. Aficionados of Belgian beer are well aware that they have to book their tastings and place their orders without delay. These are genuine limited editions and once they’re gone they’re gone.

The great thing about Christmas beers is that they tend to be strong, rich and rather complex, best enjoyed at the end of a meal or when you have plenty of time to discover their riches. Herbs and spices will never be far away and there is always a good dose of warming alcohol.

These Christmas beers are usually robust and will keep in your cellar for quite a few years. But why would you wait that long? Belgian Breweries use the very best pale and roast malts and freshly harvested hops with the judicious addition of herbs to create these beers that are ready to drink at Yuletide.

A Christmas beer will show up dark in the glass, its hop bitters balancing the sweet taste to give it a long-lasting appeal.


Christmas beer festival Essen Tasting session in Essen
© BeerTourism.com


What to Expect?

To find out all about the Christmas beers that have been brewing away over the past year, make your way to mid-December’s international Kerstbierfestival or Christmas Beer Festival in the village of Essen, just to the north of Antwerp. Winterkoninck Winterkoninck
© BeerTourism.com
You’ll see hordes of passionate beer lovers at work.

They want to taste all that is on offer and will diligently make notes of every single experience.

So, what can you expect to find in your glass? Evil tongues have it that brewers jumble together all the residues from their tanks at the last moment and call it a 'Christmas Blend'.

Fortunately, the truth is far more nuanced than that.

There are breweries, such as Palm Belgian Craft Breweries, Dubuisson and De Koninck, which introduce a seasonal beer for the end-of-year period that is based on their familiar amber beers but usually higher in strength.

As to abbey brewers, you are quite likely to come across a Christmas version of their regular dark/dubbel.

Particularly in the south of the country, brewers tend to have a more generous hand when it comes to adding herbs. And alcohol content goes up as well. After all, in winter you can turn up the heat a degree or two.


Bush Noël Bush Noël
© BeerTourism.com


No Rules, Great Beer...

Precisely because Christmas beer is not a well-defined beer style, the Christmas themes have endless variations. Too many to mention, in fact. You may come across a seasonal beer that stays Christmas beer festival Essen Going for dark...
© BeerTourism.com
a long way from the brewer’s usual path and can rightly be called an outsider.

The Slaghmuylder brewery, for example, surprises its customers with an extra-hopped, malty, blond, bottom-fermented beer. With this pils-style beer, the brewery hopes to appeal to thirsty partygoers.

There are Christmas beers to suit every taste and every moment; no-nonsense or more complex. However, as a rule, we are talking about degustation beers rather than thirst quenchers.

A pick-me-up with a few more degrees of alcohol due to a re-fermentation slipped into the brewing process, strong caramel aromas thanks to the roast malt, a fruitiness from the yeast and sufficient hops to stem the tide of sweetness.

Often you wil detect that one particular herb that compels you to order a second round so you can find out which one it is. Maybe cloves...? Or were they used in the warm 'Glühkriek' you had just now? I can’t wait to see the winter colours that will soon show up in my glass.


Antwerp Blog Posts

Belgian beer and food pairing, what's the deal? (2)
ANTWERP - Today, we are meeting up for a second tasting session in this beer and food pairing series at ‘t Zilte restaurant, the proud owner of two Michelin stars, perched high above the Flemish city ... [ read more ]
Brussels Beer Challenge 2015
ANTWERP - The 4th edition of the Brussels Beer Challenge once again put Belgium firmly on the world map. After Brussels, Liège and Leuven, it was Antwerp’s turn to host this internationally renowned b ... [ read more ]
The De Koninck Antwerp City Brewery experience
ANTWERP - The new interactive De Koninck brewery tour will completely immerse you in the world of the Antwerp City Brewery. In exchange for just €12 you can find out everything there is to ... [ read more ]
Behind the scenes at Grand Café De Rooden Hoed
ANTWERP - Local legends are there to be cherished, whether they are strictly true or not. So, did an Antwerp Cathedral priest really patrol the neighbourhood in a red hat? Or does Grand Café De Rooden ... [ read more ]
De Laet & Van Haver: Where beer meets meat
ANTWERP/HOVE - Last summer, thousands of visitors sampled Luc De Laet’s wares at the Tomorrowland music festival and in a pop-up restaurant in Antwerp. Next year, Luc will open his second ... [ read more ]

Comments



SHARE:
 



BLOG

POSTS
Chimay Grande Réserve Vieillie en Barriques 2016, a touch of wood

CHIMAY/COGNAC - Chimay Bleue stands out as a classic amongst Trappist beers. Nevertheless, its brewer continues to break new ground. The first ‘limited edition’ Chimay Grande Réserve Vieillie en Barriques saw the light <... [ more ]

Brussels Beer Challenge 2016: Belgium holds its own in the beer world

BRUSSELS - For the fifth running of the Brussels Beer Challenge the organisers selected a location steeped in history and prestige. After touring from Brussels... [ more ]

The Belgian Beer Book: Tapping into Belgian beer culture

BELGIUM - How do you write an unbiased review of a book that you yourself have written, pouring your entire soul into it? I’ll immediately give up on that impossible task and instead I’ll offer you a peek behind the ... [ more ]

Bush_de_no%c3%abl_premium_225

More Beer

This beer is based on the Bush de Noël, a warming Christmas beer introduced by Dubuisson in 1991, which was intended to lighten up the long, dark nights of winter. Such Christmas ... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.

Name:
Email:
TWITTER
    FACEBOOK