Five on Five: Belgian Beers, as Chosen by the Pros

We asked five brewing pros about their most beloved Belgian beers—any style, as long as it’s made in Belgium. Here’s what they recommend.

Craft Beer & Brewing Staff May 6, 2022 - 3 min read

Five on Five: Belgian Beers, as Chosen by the Pros Primary Image

Glazen Toren Saison d’Erpe-Mere

Mike Schallau, founder/brewer, Is/Was Brewing in Chicago

“Saison d’Erpe-Mere is a beautifully eccentric expression of saison. It is loaded with spicy phenolic character and citrusy fruit character, while still being impeccably clean, crisp, and dry. Because, as brewer Jef Van Den Steen says, ‘Sweet is good for horses, for elephants, but not for human beings.’”

Chimay Cinq Cents

Mike Karnowski, cofounder, Zebulon Artisan Ales in Weaverville, North Carolina

“One of my favorite Belgian beers is a bit of an oddball—Chimay White (or Cinq Cents). It’s a head-scratcher for American beer geeks who want to easily pigeonhole styles—it’s a tripel ... and it’s the hoppiest Trappist after Orval. I like that it doesn’t have all the dark fruit like most Trappist beers and lets the yeast character shine. It’s crisp and refreshing while remaining unabashedly Belgian. While the blue label gets all the love, this black sheep of the Chimay portfolio deserves a spot in your fridge.”


Trappistes Rochefort 10

Kevin Ashford, brewmaster, Figueroa Mountain Brewing in Buellton, California

“This is such a hard task picking just one beer, but I really love and appreciate Trappistes Rochefort 10. It is such a wonderfully complex beer. Notes of fig, brown sugar, cherry, and peppery spice come to mind, but one could spend hours pulling subtleties out of this brew. The texture is just right, not too full and not too thin. It is excellence bottled.”

De Ranke XX Bitter

Matt Manthe, founder, Odd Breed Wild Ales in Pompano Beach, Florida

“XX Bitter is aptly named, especially in today’s climate where many beers seem almost artificially sweet. While this beer is very bitter, its bitterness comes across more like a North German pilsner than a West Coast IPA; a heavy-handed approach with whole-cone Hallertau hops lends layers of classic herbal and grassy notes that dominate the palate, with just enough fruity esters and restrained phenolics to make things more interesting, while not overshadowing the hops. The finish is dry and refreshing, making this complex beer exceedingly drinkable.”

Rodenbach Grand Cru

Jenny Pfäfflin, brewer, Dovetail in Chicago

“There’s something so enchanting about Rodenbach Grand Cru—it’s incredibly drinkable (and loves to be paired with food) but with complexity that can be pondered, too. Brown sugar, Bing cherries, oak, apple-cider vinegar, and leather—it’s one of my favorite beers because its flavors also remind me of some of my favorite foods: a bowl of bulgogi; strawberries and goat cheese; and Cherry Kool-Aid pickles.”