Wine & Food

    Belgium has more indigenous beer styles than any other nation the world (Getty)

    Toast the New Year with a Belgian beer

    30 December 2016

    In 2016, Britain heeded the advice of Nigel Farage – a man regularly pictured cradling an imperial pint of mid-strength bitter, a political prop that couldn’t be more quintessentially English if it was holding a cucumber sandwich in one hand and glancing a leg-side delivery for four with the other.

    But before he’s banished from Brussels, Farage would do well to get his sweaty palms wrapped around a bolleke – or indeed one of the other bespoke glasses used by Belgian brewers to enhance one’s elbow-bending experience.

    For Belgium is beervana with more indigenous beer styles than any other nation the world, it’s the birthplace of some genuine world classics and, in recent years, a thriving new wave craft brewing scene pushing more envelopes than an Elf on amphetamines.

    To commemorate, or perhaps commiserate, this Brexit year and to welcome in 2017, now is the perfect time to embrace two beautiful beers from Belgium’s bureaucratic capital before Article 50 is activated and Jean-Claude Juncker keeps them all for himself.

    Two to buy

    Brasserie de la Senne, Brussels Jambe de Bois
    Based in Brussels after years of itinerant ale-making, brewers Yvan de Baets and Bernard Leboucq are rebels of restraint, bringing balance where some of their countrymen flail on a seesaw of spice and cloying sweetness. Jambe De Bois (Peg Leg), subtitled Belgian Revolution Triple, is a gloriously aromatic golden drop designed to be sipped slowly.

    Brasserie de Cantillon, Brussels Gueuze
    Gueuze is the true beer of Brussels. Spontaneously fermented with naturally-occurring, local, airborne yeast specific to the surrounding area, it is the Champagne of the beer world – dry, sour and gently acidic, closer in character to cider or fino sherry. Serve in a champagne flute as an aperitif.