Anyone who knows me is aware of how much I love wine and knows how fortunate I feel to be part of a profession where my cravings and lust for the good things in life doesn’t stop there. One of the most wonderful things about my vocation, is that I learn the details, stories and histories of all that is deliciously rotten, molded, fermented and fizzy. Curious?
I am back in Belgium and though there more than enough opportunities to have my choice of European wines, it’s almost sinful to sip wine here. I am in Antwerp for the fermented and fizzy beverage. Are you with me yet? Beer. Belgium Beer. Mind the two capital letters ‘B’, please. The residents of Belgium are sticklers about this and they have every right to be. There are a minimum of 1200 different styles of Beer from Belgium, and that number rises annually.
If you are curious about what to do in Antwerp, I have a few suggestions. Since the city is very bike friendly with paths that stretch for miles around all the neighborhoods, hop on your two wheeled transport, go for a ride and visit the pubs to see what you can sip from local taps. While you can try a fair share of Belgium Beers that are imported around the world, we all know it does not compare with a fresh pour.
Our second night in Belgium, we headed to the Wattman to meet up with a travelling friend we had toured with in Patagonia a few months back. This little pub restaurant has been part of Antwerp easily thirty years or more. The name comes from the name of the driver who pilots the trams about town. The menus are updated often with simple, delicious, wholesome dishes and they’ve got a handful of great Belgium Beers on tap. One to try, a classic. La Chouffe. A good pint will run under 3€ and the Lamb Moussaka I had that night was around 11€. Not too shabby, and the Moussaka was delicious, like someone’s grandmother was cooking in the kitchen.
The Achouffe brewery has been around since the late 70s and is found in the Belgian Ardennes, founded by two brothers-in-law, Chris Bauweraerts and Pierre Gobron. The duo started up with only €5,000 and the first La Chouffe beer was made in a humble mash tub of only 49 liters. That hobby transformed into a lifetime adventure. The dwarves on the labels and the beer became part of Belgian culture and over thirty years later, attracted an investor and now you can find the Beer all around the world.
While I might be able to get a six-pack online, there is nothing like sipping it where it’s made. The blond fizzy goodness is short of a hefty appetizer in a glass, and the thick, rich foam is irresistible, as are the refreshing tropical flavors with just the right amount of warm spice and slight hoppy-ness. All the flavor and texture stays in the beer, as it is unfiltered and refermented in the bottle and in the barrels. It pairs well with the best comfort foods and some good salty snacks such as salamis and of course good company. If you are tempted to enjoy more than two, remember the right way along the bike paths home and pedal with ease. I’m off in France for now, wine reviews to follow, but I’ll be back in Belgium soon to sample other beers and their famous fries!
International Sommelier and Chef Christie Kiley has over a decade of combined experience in both restaurants and wineries. While working in kitchens under talented chefs, she spent nights off serving guests in the dining room.
Her passion for food began overflowing into the wine industry and while laboring during wine harvests in Napa, she learned the nature of the product from soil to bottling. Experience working the back- and front-of-the-house in restaurants, wineries in sales, and as a food and wine educator, Christie has vast knowledge of the two industries.
Christie is currently living in Buenos Aires, where she received her Fourth level International Sommelier Certificate from the Escuela de Argentina Sommeliers (EAS) after two years of study. She is now travelling to fine-tune her knowledge and delve into the gastronomy and cultures around the globe. She works as a freelance writer to share her cultural experiences. Find Christie on Facebook