The best way to describe a Belgian IPA beer is if an American IPA and Belgian Witbier fused together to make one outstanding creation. What separates a Belgian IPA from other IPAs is the use of Belgian yeast strains, which has fruity esters and clove-like phenols. A Belgian IPA consists of various Belgian malts, Belgian yeast strains, and American hops. Compared to American IPAs, the Belgian IPA is reliant on the characteristics of the Belgian ingredients and contains less hops, nevertheless it produces a delicious, hoppy, and bright beer.
This beer comes in several styles, the Belgian White IPA, Belgian Black IPA, and Belgian Double IPA. The traditional form of a Belgian IPA is the Belgian White IPA, which has a flavor profile of fruits and spices including banana, citrus, cloves, and pepper. The malt in the pale to deep golden brew can sometime produce a slight bready flavor, but overall is refreshing and tasty. The comparison as a blend of an IPA and a wit comes from the bitterness and hoppiness of an IPA, all the while carrying the fruity and spicy flavors of a wit.
A Belgian Black IPA is similar, but uses toasty dark malt giving the beer flavors of light toffee and caramel. Although it has similar characteristics to other beers, it falls under this category and title because it lacks the body and roastiness of a stout, yet is much hoppier than a porter. The dark malt, Belgian yeast, and hops make a Belgian Black IPA the perfect name.
Finally, there is the Belgian Double IPA. The term double or Dubbel was termed by the monasteries of Belgium to determine different alcohol contents. Therefore, the Belgian Double IPA can be similar to a White or Black IPA, but has a higher alcohol content, and is often amber or brown in color.
All of these Belgian IPA beer styles are best when served in a tulip glass. For all the styles, the ABV ranges from 6-11%, with the double IPA typically being a bit higher than the Belgian White and Black IPAs. The White IPA with fruity spicy notes pairs well with Asian or spicy dishes, specifically ones with wasabi or horseradish. The Black IPA can handle richer flavors and goes well with steak, ribs, and burgers. Double IPAs are big beers and go well with barbecued meats.
We've picked some of the best Belgian IPA beers in our monthly Craft Beer Club. Not only were these selections featured, but we're sure to feature another in the future!
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