Wetten Importers

The History of Belgian Beer

Belgian beer dates back to the first crusades, long before Belgium became an independent country. French and Flemish abbeys brewed and distributed beer as a way to raise funds. The beer of that time had relatively low alcohol content and was preferred over the available drinking water which was often unsanitary. During the seven centuries that followed, the traditional, artisanal brewing methods of today evolved under abbey supervision.

Today, Trappist Beer is brewed in Trappist monasteries in Belgium. The Trappist monasteries were occupied during the late 18th century by monks fleeing the French Revolution. The first Trappist brewery in Belgium began operation in 1836, almost 50 years after the French Revolution. The beer produced in this brewery was made exclusively for monks and was described as dark and sweet. The very first recorded sale of Trappist beer in Belgium was on June 1st, 1861.  

What beer connoisseurs recognize as Trappist breweries began operations in 1838. However, several French monasteries maintained functioning breweries for five hundred years before the French Revolution. Even after the French Revolution, a few Abbey beer brewers resumed brewing from working monasteries until the occupation of Belgium during World War I. The first commercial Abbey beers appeared during Belgium’s World War I recovery.

Even though Abbey beers do not conform to rigid brewing styles, most tend to include the most recognizable Trappist styles of Belgian brown ale, strong pale ale (tripel) or blonde ale. Modern day Abbey breweries range from microbreweries to international giants. 

Today, Belgium houses approximately 125 breweries which are able to produce 500 different kinds of Belgian beer. The alcohol content of these beers is quite a bit higher than some of the other varieties of beer available in Europe.  This is because Belgium breweries were forced into making higher alcohol content beers because of laws stating that spirits, including beer, could not be drunk in public houses. This law was finally rescinded in 1983.

The types of beer brewed in Belgium today include:

  • Amber Ales
  • Blond or Golden Ales
  • Brown Ale
  • Champagne Beers
  • Dubbel
  • Flemish Red
  • Hop-Accented Beers and India Pale Ale
  • Lambic Beers including Gueuze and Fruit Lambics
  • Oud Bruin or Flemish Sour Brown Ale
  • Pils or Pale Lager
  • Saison
  • Scotch Ales
  • Stout
  • Table Beer
  • Tripel
  • White or Wheat Beer
  • Winter or Christmas Beers
  • Archaic Style Beers

Wetten Importers is one of the largest importers of European ultra-premium beers in the United States. They partner with some of the oldest and more traditional breweries in Belgium and Austria to provide American consumers with only the highest quality products. For more information please contact Wetten Importers today.