The Session No. 91: First Belgian

This month’s Session* topic is hosted by Breandán Kearney at Belgian Smaak.  He asks us to reflect upon Belgian beer, tossing out a variety of directions to go:

Our blog is called ‘Belgian Smaak’. We love (and investigate, write about and drink) fantastic beers from other countries around the world, but the reason we started the blog was that we were blown away by the variety of flavours that Belgium offers in its beer and wanted to enjoy our own adventure in taste.

The rules are that there are no rules. There is incredible opportunity at your fingertips; whether it be to write about the first time you tried a Flemish red brown ale or the time you got your taste buds around a traditional Belgian witbier.

I missed the deadline for this month’s Session thanks to additional writing assignments for my paying beer writing gig and an active day job.  In fact, Breandán is so on the ball he’s already published the roundup of all the timely posts.  So if you want to read how others addressed the topic, head to the round up here.

I don’t remember the first Belgian beer I tried, but I remember what I thought about it:  I hated it. Couldn’t handle the flavors which were most decidedly different from those I commonly enjoyed.

I was no American adjunct lager drinker, mind you.  By the time I tried my first Belgian beer I was a microbrew devottee in the mid-1990s always on the lookout for new beers.

But like most craft beer explorers my palate has undergone an evolution.  Early on I was enamored with brown ales, porters and stouts.  Its a typical starting point and nothing to be ashamed about. Pale ales, initially, and later, IPAs, were too bitter. Belgians? Not even beer.

Pizza Port (Solana Beach) Belgian-style IPA

Imagine living in San Francisco and freely choosing not to patronize the famous Toronado Pub because it specializes in Belgian beers (less so these days).  That was me in 2002.

Yet, as with all styles of beer I kept trying the occasional Belgian and Belgian-style beer.  It was long after I started enjoying IPAs that my taste buds clicked and I began to enjoy the spicy and fruity flavors imparted by traditional Belgian yeasts.  Who knows why that happens.  Your own mileage may vary.

I continue to do this – occasionally torture my flavor sensors with things I do not enjoy with the understanding that it may pay future dividends.

I do not have high expectations, though.  I’ve moved on from broad categories to individual flavors.  Rye is a perfect example.  It’s an astringent, vile flavor which should have been left for bread.  Sorachi Ace hops are another.  Who wants lemony-horse’s ass flavors in their beer?  Not me.

The journey continues.
*The Session, held the first Friday of each month, is a collective effort of beer bloggers around the world to write on a common topic once each month.

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2 thoughts on “The Session No. 91: First Belgian

  1. yah.. Leomy-horse's ass flavour thats what it is… 🙂 But their variety is bigger than just that. Their mixtures and blends can't be simply ignored.

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