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100 Belgian Beers to Try before You Die!

Tim Webb & Joris Pattyn

It’s always a dilemma. The choice of beers in even a half-decent Belgian bar is often bewildering.

100 Belgian BeersYou don’t want to go for the big names, or the beers you been able to get at your supermarket back home, and yet you don’t know which of the other beers in the extensive beer menu are likely to be to your taste.

The best guides up to now have been Michael Jackson’s The Great Beers of Belgium, which explores the origins of each style in some detail and combines that with a review of the best exponents, and Tim Webb’s Good Beer Guide Belgium, which covers just about everything you need to know for a trip to the country.

What Tim’s book lacks, however, is a focus on individual beers and detailed tasting notes, and this is where his alternative title, compiled with local beer buff Joris Pattyn, comes in.

100 Belgian Beers to Try before You Die is easily seen as just a spin-off from Roger Protz’s highly successful 300 Beers to Try before You Die, from the same publisher. The format, however, is somewhat different.

There’s a lavishly illustrated page for each beer, but none of Roger’s extended commentaries on the beers. Instead, the approach is sharp and to the point. The writing style and the forthright views are typical of both authors, with wit as sharp as a particularly rough gueuze.

This makes the book not just informative but entertaining, too, although I feel I could do with the story of each beer explained in more detail and, dare I say it, with a bit more love. As it stands, there’s a paragraph or two painting the backdrop to each product, followed by tasting notes and a brewery fact box. It’s all rounded off by a ‘verdict’.

You would think that, as these are 100 hand-picked beers, the verdict is always likely to be positive, and generally it is, but there are a few notes of caution and advice expressed.

As for the beers included, well there are a few surprises in the form of Belgian-style beers brewed in other countries, otherwise it’s a selection ranging from classics such as Duvel to Westmalle Dubbel to ales from less familiar breweries such as De Ryck and Sint Canarus.

Breaking things up are a handful of pages with a more detailed focus on individual breweries and a reference section that covers such areas as ‘How to Create a Beer Cellar’ and ‘Ten Top Tips for Restaurateurs’.

My own verdict on the book itself? It’s a more than useful introduction to beers you could all too easily overlook or should definitely seek out. The title says it all, really.

First edition (2008)

160-page paperback (CAMRA Books)


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