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The Everyday Pintje: Searching for Belgian Pils

Overshadowed by the global fame of Belgian ale and lambic, pils is nevertheless the country’s most popular kind of beer—light, inexpensive, and available at every corner café. It’s also uniquely Belgian, with many independent breweries making distinctive versions worth seeking.

Jeff Alworth Sep 9, 2022 - 11 min read

The Everyday Pintje: Searching for Belgian Pils Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves/

On a sparkling morning in late September three years ago, I arrived in Vichte, West Flanders, to tour the wonderful old Verhaeghe family brewery, where they make the classic Flanders roodbruin, Duchesse de Bourgogne. Tour guide Katrien Martin and owner/brewer Peter Verhaeghe showed me the brewery and cellars, and we tasted through a line-up of their beers—all of them, or so I thought. Yet when I was preparing to leave around lunchtime, Martin mentioned a café nearby where I could have a glass of their pils.

Pils? I had just toured the whole brewery, and nowhere did I see any mention of a pilsner.

I found the restaurant and was served a luminous glass of liquid gold with my steak-frites. The glass, of course, was embossed with the brewery’s ornate crest, typical for Belgium. The beer had a curious quality—sweetish malts, zesty hops, a mineral note, and a quick, dry finish. It bore some resemblance to German pilsner, but the malts, the minerality, the finish—they were unusual. It was excellent, and I wondered why they didn’t talk about it.

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