King’s Day—Celebrating Belgian-Style Beers

By Anthony Orig

On November 15, the country of Belgium celebrates it’s King, the monarchy and the sovereign. This holiday was first established in 1866, roughly 35 years after achieving independence from Holland, the last of the 13 overlords that dominated the country. Even though they were ruled by so many other countries, they never absorbed into them and were able to hold onto things that were culturally important, one of them being beer.

The history of Belgian brewing is about as complex and dramatic as the country’s history itself. In Tasting Beer, Randy Mosher explains that, “As the foreign princes came and went, people tried to hold onto things they felt were truly Belgian. Beer is as pure as it gets in that regard, and taxation aside, foreign potentates usually left it alone, as an adequate supply of beer helps to cool the embers of discontent.”

However, there were periods during times of war or turmoil, where the industry looked grim. But Belgian brewers prevailed and kept the uniqueness of their beers alive and well. As the country of Belgium celebrates their monarchy, let’s not forget about the new American craft beers that are inspired by the old world.

2011 Great American Beer Festival Medal Winners – Belgian-Style Categories

American-Belgo-Style Ale
Gold: Angry Birds | Haymarket Pub & Brewery | Chicago, Illinois
Silver: Blue Reserve | Blue Mountain Brewery | Afton, Virginia
Bronze: Boulevard Collaboration #2 | Boulevard Brewing Co. |  Kansas City, Missouri

Belgian-Style Witbier
Gold: Witte | Brewery Ommegang | Cooperstown, New York, New York
Silver: La Perouse White | Maui Brewing Co. | Maui, Hawaii
Bronze: ZON | Boulevard Brewing Co. | Kansas City, Missouri

French- and Belgian-Style Saison
Gold: Saison-Brett | Boulevard Brewing Co. | Kansas City, Missouri
Silver: Funkwerks Saison | Funkwerks | Fort Collins, Colorado
Bronze: Sofie | Goose Island Beer Co. | Chicago, Illinois

Belgian- and French-Style Ale
Gold: California Ale | Telegraph Brewing Co. | Santa Barbara, California
Silver: TAPS Biere de Garde | TAPS Fish House & Brewery | Brea, California
Bronze: Pin-Up Blonde | Bastone Brewery | Royal Oak, Michigan

Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale
Gold: Fifth Element 2008 | Squatters Pub Brewery | Salt Lake City, Utah
Silver: Blue Sunday | New Holland Brewing Co. | Holland, Michigan
Bronze: Barton Kriek | North by Northwest | Austin, Texas

Belgian-Style Abbey Ale
Gold: Brother David’s Double | Anderson Valley Brewing Co. | Boonville, California
Silver: Wild-Westmalle Tripel | Chicago Brewing Co. | Las Vegas, Nevada
Bronze: Two Tortugas | Karl Strauss Brewing Co. | San Diego, California

Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale
Gold: Buffalo Slumber | Sun King Brewing Co. | Indianapolis, Indiana
Silver: Revelations | Pizza Port Carlsbad | Carlsbad, California
Bronze: The Twelve | Black Diamond Brewing Co. | Concord, California

What Belgian-inspired American beers have you been drinking lately?

Anthony OrigAnthony Orig is the current Craft Beer Program Intern at the Brewers Association. He attends the University of Colorado at Boulder and will be graduating in December 2011 with degrees in Environmental Studies and Geography. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, he enjoys craft brews the most after long days of exploring in the mountains. Still new to the craft beer brewing world, he looks forward to learning more about the industry and meeting the people behind the beer. Follow his daily beer and mountain adventures on Twitter.