20 Belgian Beers to Drink Before You Die

From Trappist ales to saisons that set the blueprint, these are Belgian ales every beer nerd needs to taste.

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While the American craft-beer scene has changed the face of brewing worldwide with its sheer gumption and ingenuity, it's important to remember the centuries-old traditions that laid the foundation for our own hops-cowboys to do their thing.

The Germans gave us lager and showed us the magic of brewing at its most pure, using nothing but barley, hops, water, and yeast to create a remarkable range of flavors. From the English, we learned subtly, the art of the session beer, and the beauty of cask-conditioning. But more than anyone else, it's the Belgians who ignited the imagination that defines American craft. As Don Feinberg, who began importing Belgian beers into the U.S. in 1982, has told us in the past, "[Belgian beer] showed home brewers, craft brewers, and big brewers that it’s what’s in the bottle that counts, not some absurd adherence to an approved ingredient list or narrow stylistic guidelines." Many of the tricks that our brewers have pushed to extremes—barrel-aging, bottle-fermenting, cranking up the alcohol content, flavoring with fruit, and so on—have their roots in the small, artisanal breweries of Belgium.

Looking through the best beers in the country, as well as the most exciting up-and-coming breweries right now, it's impossible to miss the emphasis on Belgian styles, not to mention the trail of Belgian yeasts that threads through many of our most celebrated beers. And what's especially cool is that the game is coming full circle, with American experimentation shaking things up back in Belgium and producing hybrids like Hop-Ruiter, a strong golden ale amped up with hops to appeal to the U.S. palate.

In short, exploring the Belgian classics is an essential part of being a beer nerd—to know where we're at, you've got to know where we started. But with so many options, what to drink? To help you narrow the field, we gathered our panel of beer pros, including bar owners and writers, to pick their favorite Belgians that are available stateside.

From Trappist ales to saisons that set the blueprint, these are the Belgian beers you need to try before you kick the bucket.

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RELATED: 25 Stouts to Drink Before You Die

Click to start the list
  • Ludgero Filipe

    Awesome list, another is Chimay Blue.

    • Love Guru

      That’s exactly what I’m drinking here in Brussels while trying to find it on this list!

  • TomBedell

    Slide show? Don’t do slide shows. Put ‘em all on one page!

  • Ab

    I loved the Leffe brun and you have taste the one they make in Bruges o Brugge: it is called Brugge Zot.

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