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How Can I Learn to Enjoy Belgian/Wheat Beers?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BurgeoningBrewhead, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. Hey all,
    I've recently discovered a love for good beer, and have since tried over 100 different craft beers and counting. Usually my tastes have matched the reviews I see on here; I don't like bad beers, I find mediocre beers mediocre, and I have loved (almost) every 'world-class' beer I've tried.
    That (almost) is where my worry is. I have never enjoyed Belgian beers, or any sort of wheat beer. They taste anywhere from "eh" to "old pb&j sandwich." I feel like I'm missing out on some truly world-class beers by not enjoying these Belgian and wheat beers that get such rave reviews on here. I remember not liking strong stouts and porters when I first started drinking beers, but I love them now; can the same transformation take place with belgian/wheat beers?

    tl;dr:
    I don't like Belgian/wheat beers but I feel like I'm missing out. How can I develop a taste for them? Looking for all recommendations (specific beers, styles, food pairings, w/e) to help me develop an appreciation for them.
     
  2. MammaGoose

    MammaGoose Aficionado (210) Wyoming Jan 10, 2013

    Keep an open mind and accept that not everyone will like the same things. You might just not like Belgians/wheats. I'm "eh" on most wheat beers, but I like (typically not love) some of them. I tend to really enjoy most Belgian styles of beer, but not all.

    Tastes and preferences can certainly change and develop with exposure. Shoot, I used to be a Bud Light gal. I remember trying my first IPA and feeling like I had just been punched in the face or my first stout when it was like choking down dirt. Now I tend to like both styles. But, no matter how many fruit beers I try, I've found very few that I'd ever want to drink again. I have never gotten too excited about a lager. And I also really really can honestly say that I dislike lambics. I do like hops, but truth be told, I'd choose a malty beer over a hop explosion. It almost seems to be a point to brag about if one is a hop head. I don't feel that I'm any lesser than as a beer enthusiast because I don't want to have my palate obliterated by bitterness. There are absolutely some incredible beers that deserve all the recognition and appreciation they receive that I would frankly find to be too hoppy. And that's okay. I can respect the brewer's accomplishment of producing an excellent beer and still choose something else that's more to my taste. Some beers may simply be too Belgian-y or too wheat-y for your taste preferences. There are world class stellar beers of every style. Not every beer drinker has to like every style.

    That said, there's something to be said for an open mind. I still happily taste samples of lambic beers and will try the occasional fruity beer. Very rarely am I surprised to find that I like it, but I'm always glad that I at least sampled. Maybe my tastes will evolve, but I won't be worried if they don't. There are many styles that I love.
     
  3. Drink an Orval and thank me later. In all seriousness, Belgian beers are one of my least favorite styles, but I really appreciate the diversity and large array of flavors in them, and Orval is one that would be good to start with I think.
     
  4. blackcloud

    blackcloud Savant (420) Alaska Apr 28, 2012

    I consider my not liking them (that back of the tongue sweetness is a huge put-off to me) as my gift to all of you who love them. more out there for y'all....
     
    AnotherImperial, DanE and SammyJaxxxx like this.
  5. KYGunner

    KYGunner Savant (490) Kentucky Sep 16, 2012

    Hey Brewhead, I'm in the same boat as you. I dislike the wheat and Many Belgians because the yeast strains give them a very clove like taste. I've disliked clove since childhood and don't see it changing now that I'm 40. I've decided to simply chalk it up to not my personal favorite and just concentrate on the porters and stouts that I love.
     
  6. I've had at least 800 different kinds of Belgian beers in my time rating beer and Orval is one of the worst recommendations as a first Belgian. No offense and I'm not trying to be a dick but Orval has a very strong Juniper flavor and tastes NOTHING like any other Belgian. If the guy likes it, well, he won't find any other Belgian that tastes like it. If he doesn't like it he'll think all Belgians tastes like that. Seriously, bad, bad, recommendation. Most people start into the world of real Belgians with something like Duvel (pronounced Doo-vul, most people say Du-Vel which is wrong). Anyway, Belgians are amazing but the yeast is very strong and not everyone likes Belgian yeast.
     
    randjuke and mrhartounian like this.
  7. mweso2000

    mweso2000 Savant (335) Georgia Apr 10, 2010

    Looking at your beers I do not see any any Tripels. Allagash is a good one and so is La fin du Monde. Saisons and Wits are also an excellent way to go in terms of style. You may want to try a Belgian Pale ale or Belgian IPA since it may have familiar flavors. I really like my Belgians with meals, they usually pair well with food.
     
  8. My advice- get ahold of a few of these beers that are easy to findin your area, and drink them while you read reviews about them (ideally well-written reviews by pros, bros, or experienced BA 'ers). This will help you understand the nuances and subtleties of the beer. This may help you better appreciate the beers more. Not to sound like an ass, but if your palate isn't experienced with the flavors that more experienced drinkers reference (something I struggled with when I first got into beer- and I think most of us still miss from time to time), then you might not "get it". Again, I mean no offense, but this may be an issue where "practice makes perfect".
     
    Tballz420 likes this.
  9. jtierney89

    jtierney89 Initiate (0) New Jersey Aug 15, 2011

    • I second rival as it it bit hoppier and makes for an easier transition. some tougher to find but worthwhile hippy Belgian ales include duponts foret organic saison and theriez extra. foret is almost like a Belgian ipa and extra is like a Belgian pale ale, the hops will produce flavors your mouth is familiar with while still letting you taste the yeasty Belgian notes​
     
  10. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Savant (485) Florida May 29, 2011

    Just drink & drink some more, honestly. If you do not like those styles, that is more than fine. It is perfectly normal for people to dislike particular styles. Shit, I've been drinking craft beer for nearly 3 years now pretty intensely and still do not like Belgians.

    I stay far away from most Belgians (& I have had some great examples - Cantillion, Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, Fantome, etc) simply because I prefer drinking other styles. I respect the beer for what it is, but don't go out of my way to have it, apart from some Saisons.

    Best advice is just to keep trying your hand, or palate, at it. First time I had Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, I thought it tasted like floral soap. Now I love it like a child.
     
  11. Bear1964

    Bear1964 Savant (325) Nebraska Dec 12, 2012

    That is a great way to explain it...and I agree all the way!
     
  12. But you are being a Dick
     
    Bung and BlackBelt5112203 like this.
  13. jplopez21

    jplopez21 Advocate (590) Illinois Nov 14, 2012

    Ommegang abbey ale is a really good starter belgian dubbel. Ommegang Three philosophers and Boulevard Sixth Glass are good quads (more intense flavor). La fin du monde is probably one of the best trippels I've had. If you wanna go real light maybe Leffe Blonde. Honestly, the real key to ALL belgian ales is drinking them @ room temperature, NOT cold. DO NOT drink them cold. You lose out on so much flavor. If you wanna go authentic belgian, Trappistes Rocheforte and St Bernardus are really popular.
     
    djl9701 and DelMontiac like this.
  14. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Advocate (715) Oklahoma Oct 22, 2010

    I'm not sure you can learn to enjoy beer. It's more likely that you'll enjoy learning about beer until you realize your appreciations for the various styles.

    My $0.02...If you like darker brews then try a Belgian Strong Dark Ale like Rochefort 8, Chimay Blue, or Goose Island Maltilda. Not everyone likes wheat beers, but I would recommend a German brand hefeweisen like Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse or Weihenstephaner Hefeweissier.

    And I agree with the above advice - don't drink those beers too cold. I was unimpressed with many craft beers until I learned about proper temperature.
     
    KevinMc79 likes this.
  15. --Dom--

    --Dom-- Savant (355) Missouri Dec 22, 2012

    New Belgium Abbey and Trippel are both good american representations of the styles. To all my belgian drinkers out there, please note that I said "good" and "american representations" before you attack :D That being said, they are both good beers and could help to get you acclimated to the style without being too offensive to your palate. P.S. if you do get the trippel, drink it with some pizza.... amazing
     
    Ispeakforthetrees likes this.
  16. mellowmark

    mellowmark Savant (465) Minnesota Mar 31, 2010

    I don't like Barleywines at all yet they are among some of the more creamed over beers on this site. Just because a lot of people like something doesn't mean you need to like it as well. Just accept who you are and maybe one day you will grow a taste for it. Cheers!
     
    RochefortChris and tectactoe like this.
  17. Alright thanks for the replies everyone, most of the recommended beers are ones I see in the stores I get my beers from so I'll start trying them. I'm fine with them not being my favorite styles, but I at least want to be able to appreciate a good beer in any form, even though I may not like it.
     
  18. Honestly, just taste what you can find. Weihenstephaner anything, Allagash White, Hofbrau Hefeweizen, Mother Earth Sunny Haze, Bell's Winter White, Sixpoint Apollo, Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat, and Sierra Nevada Kellerweis are what I would recommend.

    If you want to go dark wheats/Belgians, I would go with Rochefort 8/10, Westmalle Dubbel, and Weihenstephan Dunkelweizen.

    Tripels might help, but if you dont like Belgian Pales of hefes, then these wont. Aviator Devil's Tramping Ground is a good NC local one. Westmalle Trippel is a widely distributed one.

    If you dont find yourself drawn to anything after trying them, just write them off and move on. No one said you had to like them. I refused to drink anything Dubbel, then I had Westy 8, and was blown away. I had Pere Jacques, and swore Dubbels off. Now Ive knocked off the widely distributed Abbey Dubbels and BSDAs.
     
  19. I am not a "beer snob" I will usually drink any beer out of any glass but I will say that a heffe weis glass can really make a wheat beer much more drinkable.
     
  20. If you don't like it then don't drink it, you can revisit it every now and again and you may feel differently.
    OR
    Jupiler
     
  21. mfnmbvp

    mfnmbvp Advocate (660) Illinois Nov 28, 2012

    I thought the Stone Cali-Belgique was a decent Belgian IPA. Jus sayin.
     
    RobertColianni likes this.
  22. Try some Belgians that aren't wheat beers. Maybe Duvel or Saison DuPont. Both are delicious, flavorful, crisp, and clean. Not as sweet or heavy as some other Belgian styles.
     
    --Dom-- likes this.
  23. i find certain Saisons to be my favorite belgian style. for me they have a little bit of all the other styles i really like. some spicy yeast, well masked booze, bit o' fruit, bit o hops and nicely carbonated.
     
  24. Stevedore

    Stevedore Champion (915) Wisconsin Nov 16, 2012

    Try a bunch and if it doesn't take off, then go try some different styles. Then come back to it.

    You never know how much your palate changes over a year. A year ago, I wasn't a big fan of Porters and Stouts- I hated the one FBS I drank at the time, for example. I kept drinking my APAs/IPAs- more recently seeking out more of the higher-rated APAs/IPAs rather than just my local mainstays and paying more attention to my tasting notes to develop my palate. And so it happened that I picked up a bottle of Narwhal and found it incredibly delicious. And that's how I got back into stouts- I have tasted at least 15-20 different stouts in the past 2 months and most have been incredible, especially BCBS, Black Note. And I'm pleased I came back to it.

    Belgians are actually the next on my list. Even before I knew there was a such thing as craft beer, I favored some of Lindemans' offerings over any sort of macro beer. Fruit lambics are delicious and always will be. I just have to stop buying stouts, drink the ones I have and save up money for these expensive Trappist ales.. thank the good Lord that Ommegang is reasonably priced to start me off on a few Belgian styles.
     
  25. atxdelivery

    atxdelivery Savant (255) Texas Aug 28, 2010

    My girlfriend likes this style.
     
  26. Just buy them and drink them. Thats how you find out if you like them or not! Its really that simple! Enjoy!

    And do some research:

    http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/93

    http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/129

    http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/48

    These might be some styles that you are speaking of....read the list see if you can find something that you can find on the shelves out there!
     
  27. Try a bunch of them from different breweries. That should give you a pretty good picture as to whether or not you like the style.
     
    BeerKangaroo likes this.
  28. You can't...Belgian's suck and so do wits!
     
  29. ThirstyFace

    ThirstyFace Initiate (0) New York Jan 11, 2013

    Drink them seven times. That's the magic number. That, or see the Beer Yogi. He'll show you the light.
     
  30. ThirstyFace

    ThirstyFace Initiate (0) New York Jan 11, 2013

    Fix that for you
     
  31. Didn't really fix anything since wits were created in Germany, which was exactly why I separated my sentence the way I did. You're another one of those new hipster type that thinks they know everything, right?
     
    Bung likes this.
  32. you shouldnt have to suffer by sucking them down...still continue to buy them, but just ship them straight to me. I will take the bullet for you.
     
  33. jmmy3

    jmmy3 Savant (345) Massachusetts Nov 30, 2010

    If you don't like them, no amount of text will change your taste. Just move along, and revisit the styles every so often, there's a good chance your taste will change over time.
     
  34. ThirstyFace

    ThirstyFace Initiate (0) New York Jan 11, 2013

    I think you are wrong. And no, I'm not a hipster.
     
  35. je1129

    je1129 Aficionado (230) Iowa Feb 22, 2011

    From what I've learned from beerfest you should drink rams piss. Because if you can drinks ram's piss, you can drink just about anything.
     
    Tballz420 likes this.
  36. Depends on what your definition of "wits" and "Germany" is.
     
    ThirstyFace and Tballz420 like this.
  37. Beezee

    Beezee Savant (330) Illinois Jan 29, 2010

    pair it with foods
     
  38. Maybe try some wheat beers when you're sitting outside on a hot summer's day.

    Belgian beers tend to be an aquired taste, as they aren't what most peopel would imagine "beer" to be like when they first get into it.

    My advice is that if you're pretty new to craft, thoroughly explore the styles that you enjoy first. As your palate develops, your curiousity to continue to explore will take over more and more, and some of the flavors that you maybe don't enjoy now might come across as better tasting with more experience.

    But even though a lot of people enjoy all of the styles of beer, I would guess that most people have at least a few styles that they don't like. Try em out, if you don't like them, there's nothing wrong with you.
     
    Bear1964 likes this.
  39. Even though Belgium was part of Germany in the late 30's and early 40's, Witbier was invented long before that.

    Maybe you're a hipster doofus and you don't even realize it?
     
    ThirstyFace likes this.
  40. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (965) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    Well, we need to send you some Belgian Red, Raspberry Tart, and Serendipity from New Glarus.
     

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