Eric Asimov, who writes about wine and beer for the New York Times, owner of the Herald-Tribune, has a new article taste-testing Belgian beers.* You can read it here. It's a good introduction to Belgian-style beers, whose common element is their differences.
I'm happy that three of the top four beers in their blind taste test were American. Several of their Top 10 are sold in our area. Here are the ones I know are sold here and their NYT rankings and comments:
"1. Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza
★★★ ½ (Three and a Half Stars) Dexter, Mich. 750 milliliters
Fresh, lively and softly carbonated with complex spicy, floral, fruity aromas and flavors.
5. Unibroue Maudite
★★★ (Three Stars)
Chambly, Quebec 12 ounces
Balanced and refreshing with spicy, fruity flavors. (Unibrew U.S.A., Shelburne, Vt.)
6. Het Anker Lucifer
★★★ (Three Stars)
Mechelen, Belgium 11.2 ounces
Complex and bright with aromas and flavors of flowers, spices and citrus. (Wetten Importers, Sterling, Va.)
9. Brooklyn Local 1
★★ ½ (Two and a Half Stars)
Brooklyn, N.Y. 750 milliliters
Spicy and tart with a pleasing hoppy bitterness."
I think you could find most of these at Whole Foods and/or Total Wine & More. The Cock & Bull and World of Beer sell many of them, too, if you're looking to have them at a bar. Also, a reader reminds me of the newly opened Stairway to Belgium on Main Street in Sarasota, which is a restaurant devoted to good beer and food with a concentration on Belgium.
I like these two paragraphs from the story:
"Among the many unusual qualities of these beers is the pricing. They are not cheap. The Het Anker Lucifer, from Belgium, for example, cost $6 for an 11.2-ounce bottle.
Our No. 1, Jolly Pumpkin, cost $18 for a cork-topped 750-milliliter bottle. Yes, it’s a lot more than a six-pack of Pabst. But these are not industrial beers. They are hand-brewed by artisans. I think you’ll taste the difference, in all their confounding glory."
I could further summarize the article, but let's face it, Asimov is a much better writer than I am, so just read his article for all the details.
* No, the Times didn't tell me to write about their article. Actually, my mom pointed it out to me. Thanks, Mom!