Recommended Belgian beers

July 12, 2011

De Struise Brouwers Pannepot (11.2 ounces, $18)

Struise’s U.S. importer, Shelton Brothers, calls Pannepot “about the easiest beer in the world to sell,” and for good reason. A chestnut-brown “old ale” brewed with spices, this smooth, robust beer is filled with caramel, fruit and roasted notes. Ignore the cost and buy this true beer-lover’s beer before the last local bottles run out, as they surely will.

Available in the District at Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown.

De Struise Brouwers Black Albert (11.2 ounces, $20)


Label of Struisse Tsjeesus Belgian Ale photographed on July 8, 2011 in Potomac, MD. (Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

A uniquely Belgian take on the high-alcohol motor oil look-alikes known as Russian imperial stouts (Struise calls this a “Belgian royal stout”). Named for Albert II, the king of Belgium, it is brewed with Belgian malts, Belgian yeast and Belgian-grown hops, which combine to produce a thick but elegant beer with a noticeable hoppiness.

Available in the District at Birch & Barley/ChurchKey, Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle.

Picobrouwerij Alvinne Extra Restyled (11.2 ounces, $4)

This refreshing and easy-to-drink blond ale, brewed with American hops, has a complex hop bitterness that sets it apart from most comparable Belgian beers. Light enough to go well with food, it is an ideal summer beer.

Available in the District at Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor.

Picobrouwerij Alvinne Cuvee Freddy (11.2 ounces, $13)

A strikingly winelike beer — a sour version of an imperial stout that has been aged for one year on Burgundy barrels — Cuvee Freddy isn’t for everyone, but sour-beer enthusiasts will enjoy its many nuances. It features a berrylike fruitiness as well as bitterness, tannins, funkiness and acidity.

Available in the District at Birch & Barley/ChurchKey (at 25.4 ounces for $45). Available in Virginia at Rustico locations in Alexandria and Arlington.

De Struise Brouwers Tsjeeses (11.2 ounces, $16)

Struise’s Christmas beer is an irreverent riff on a style that often overwhelms the palate with spice and noticeable alcoholic warmth. Similar to a Belgian tripel, it manages to be summery despite being brewed for winter, thanks to a honeyed sweetness that comes from a secondary fermentation with apricots, plums or peaches.

Available in the District at Birch & Barley/ChurchKey, Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown.

— D.F.

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