My Little Belgian Secret: Challenging My Beer Prejudices (& Yours)

Do you want to hear a secret?

It’s been a little while since we posted so if you’ve stuck around waiting for our next article, I figure we’re friends now. And because we’re friends, I know that I can tell you something and it will be kept between you and me. Right? Good. Because today I’m going to let you in on something I only share with those nearest and dearest to me…

I Don’t Like Belgian Beer.

There, I said it. Now you know my dirty little secret. I hope we’re still friends.

In all seriousness, I have professed a dislike for most Belgian beers over the years, though it’s not a feeling I share very often. When I do mention my aversion, it’s usually in a whisper so that nobody hears my confession. I mean, Belgian-style beers have been popular for centuries. This sort of admission could cause my beer geek card to be permanently revoked (if only there were such a thing.) It’s downright scandalous!

However, the real reason I don’t mention this affliction to anyone isn’t out of fear of being scolded for my point of view. If I’m being honest with myself, the reason I don’t share my opinion on this often is that it’s not totally true. Or at least, I don’t know for certain that it’s true. In fact, my truth is even harder to admit. The reality is that I don’t have enough knowledge or experience with Belgian beers to really know if I like it or not.

These beers were delicious. Clearly they’re an exception.

Does This Sound Familiar?

My experience with Belgian beers went like this: Early on in my beer drinking years, I had a few Belgian-style beers that didn’t hit my palate just right. Do I remember what beers I disliked? No, not exactly. I can’t even remember the styles that initially turned me off. All I know is that I tasted a couple, didn’t like them, and came to the conclusion that I just don’t like Belgian-style beers. Since then I have mostly avoided the styles when I see them on a menu.

I’m sure what happened to me has probably happened to you. I tasted a handful of beers, didn’t like them, so I decided I disliked the entire style. Heck, I decided I didn’t like a whole region of beer! It hardly seems fair, given the variety of beer styles, variations, and breweries, but that’s what happened. I made a snap judgment early on and just accepted it as truth as the years went on without question.

Ironically, I’ve maintained this opinion despite having enjoyed several Belgian-style beers over the years. While I don’t actively seek them out, I’ve had my share of Belgian saisons, wits, and sours. Some of them were actually quite delicious. However, for some reason, I look at those beers as exceptions to the rule. It seems like it’s just easier that way because otherwise, I’d have to admit that maybe my initial opinion was wrong. (Wrong? Me? Never!)

Yes this beer was tasty, but in all fairness it was paired with Belgian chocolate.

The Case For Trying the Things You Hate

It’s human nature to avoid things we don’t like. For me, it’s Belgian-style beer. For you maybe it’s something else. Perhaps you’re scared to try that ink-black stout. Maybe you hate IPAs for their bitterness or sours for their, well, sourness. Yes, we all have things we don’t like. But how do we know when we’ve passed judgment too quickly? How do we know we really dislike something when we’re not willing to try it once in a while to make sure?

What I’m saying here, is that it’s not fair to judge a whole category of beer based on a few bad experiences. I think it would serve us all better to stop generalizing about beer styles we don’t understand. You can’t tell if you’ll like a beer by the name or by its appearance. We should avoid making judgments on beers we don’t know much about just because of one or two bad experiences. By doing that, we risk missing out on something truly awesome. (For what it’s worth, I think the statements above apply to more than beer, but I’ll keep my soapbox tucked away for today and stick to the topic at hand.)

Challenging My Beer Prejudices

This month, I decided it was time to decide once and for all if I really dislike Belgian beer, or if I’ve just been too lazy or intimidated to figure out what I enjoy. It seems pretty unlikely that don’t like any Belgian beers, given the vast quantity and diversity of styles. Still, how do I find out for sure? How can I better pinpoint what I like and dislike, so that I can be a better beer consumer?

As I see it, there are two steps:

  1. Learn about Belgian beer styles to better understand the varieties.
  2. Taste several examples of the many styles and varieties with an open mind.

There is no better time than the present to tackle this issue, and that’s not just lip service. In fact, now is the perfect time for me to explore Belgian-style beers because there are events this month to help me with both of the above steps, and as luck would have it, they’re both being hosted by the same brewery: Bruz Beers.

Since you know my secret I’m assuming we’re best friends now. That’s why I figure you’ll want to follow me on my journey of Belgian-beer discovery and, hopefully, appreciation. Here’s what I’ve got planned:

Step One: Educate Myself

Don’t tell the folks at Bruz Beer my secret about Belgian-style beers, because these folks really love the stuff. Not only did they love the style enough to open a Belgian-style brewery in Denver, but they also offer regular workshops to beer losers lovers like me to help educate people on Belgian beer. The World of Belgian Beer workshop at Bruz Beers offers an overview and guided tasting of more than a dozen major categories of Belgian beer. It seems like the perfect way to learn about the style, and maybe through some tasting, discover what I enjoy vs. what I hate don’t have the palate to appreciate.

Today I signed Jeff and myself up for the World of Belgian Beers workshop. I’d say “wish me luck,” but I seriously doubt it’s needed. I really enjoy beer, as you know, so I’m hoping that with a little more knowledge and a few tastings, I can determine what Belgian styles I like best. If nothing else at least I’ll get a better understanding and appreciation of the style. Worst-case scenario, I’ll find out that I hate it all and can be more confident sharing my opinion.

Step Two: Taste A Lot of Beer

This step should come pretty natural to me since it’s basically what I do every weekend, except this time I’m going to taste lots of Belgian-style beers. How can I do this without breaking the bank on beers I may or may not enjoy? Fortunately, Bruz Beers comes to my rescue again.

On Sunday, April 28, Bruz Beers is hosting their 3rd Annual Belgian Brew Fest. This festival brings more than a dozen local craft brewers together, with each offering some of their best Belgian-style brews. It’s the perfect opportunity for me to use what I’ve learned and do some sampling. This year’s lineup even features special guest breweries Ommegang and Duvel, the latter of which is a genuine Belgian brewery. Genuine, as in, the Duvel Moortgat Brewery has been making beer in Belgium since 1871. That’s about as Belgian as you can get.

Photo Credit: Bruz Beers

I’ll bet these breweries would all be super excited to have a Belgian beer skeptic coming to their party. Fortunately, I think the one-two punch of the Bruz World of Belgian Beers workshop followed by the 2019 Belgian Brew Fest just what I need to go from critic to fan. At least that’s the hope. Otherwise, it’s going to be an enjoyable afternoon for Jeff, but maybe somewhat less fun for me.

Want to find out how this all turns out?

Come back to Bottle Makes Three later this month to find out if my opinion of Belgian-style beer changes after these two events at Bruz Beers. I’m hopeful that with a bit of education and exposure, I’ll be a fan of at least some new styles of Belgian beer. However, I promise I won’t hold back if I’m not converted.

To follow along on this adventure in real time, follow BMT on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where we’ll share our experiences on this Belgian-style beer journey as they happen. Besides, we’re friends now, and friends support one another in their beer blogging adventures by following them on social media. #bffs

Share Your “I Hate That” Beer Secrets

I’ve told you my secret, so it’s only fair that you come clean and admit what beers you avoid. Are you scared of the dark beers? Do you hate IPAs? Do you think sour beer is gross? (For what it’s worth, I used to hate sours, too. I’ve been converted.) Perhaps you hate craft beers and stick to those big-name lagers, with or without corn syrup. Maybe you don’t even like beer at all.

If I’m going to challenge myself to try something new, I think you should, too. Let us know in the comments below or on social media what types of beers you hate and why, and we’ll tell you that you’re wrong. Just kidding… we promise not to look down on you for sharing your beer truth. However, Jeff and I would love to know what beers you avoid. Maybe we can tackle those styles next and challenge your beer misconceptions. Who knows, perhaps we can help you find something new to love that you previously avoided. Hey, that’s what friends are for.

That’s Flemish for “Cheers!” according to our pals at Google.