A new Midtown brasserie celebrates the ancient art of Belgian brewing.
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Amid all the American craft-beer hoopla, it’s easy to forget that the Belgians have been making some of the world’s funkiest brews for centuries, and there are hundreds of varieties beyond your standard Chimay or Stella. Enter the new Brabant Belgian Brasserie, in Midtown East, which serves no fewer than 50 Belgian beers.
“Belgian beers are a lot like wines in that they age in bottles and they’re brought up to a certain drinkability over time in the bottle,” says bartender and marketing manager Eric Laverty, who’s been traveling to Belgium for more than 15 years, learning about the country’s beer culture. “They’re pretty new to American drinkers, but some of these beers have been around since the 1400s, and the aromas that come out when they’re poured are unbelievable,” he says. “If you pour a beer made for a specific type of glass into another glass, it will taste different.”
We asked Laverty for a primer on some of the more exotic brews you’ll find at Brabant. Just be sure to let him pour them for you.
It’s lighter that many Belgian beers, and when it didn’t do that well in Belgium, they brought it here. Pretty much all Duvels are triple fermented, and they have a higher than normal concentration of alcohol. This is a single fermentation, and it’s 6.8 percent alcohol. It’s a golden ale, comparable to the Canadian ales. It’s very smooth, gentle, and a little bit on the dry side. It would go well with fish.
This is the first time I’ve seen this beer on tap in New York. It’s considered a blond, but I think it’s more medium-bodied, and really tasty. This would pair well with meats like lamb. The rack of lamb here has a very delicate taste, with a sage and rosemary marinade and a mint-pistachio pistou.
This is a very nice full-bodied brown abbey beer. It’s got a creaminess to it, with a bitter hint. Most people gravitate toward the Leffe blond because the brown wasn’t available in the States until last year. It might be my all-time favorite. It’s always nice with steak frites and mussels. All of the heavier bottled beers go well with mussels.
Donker means “dark.” This is a really powerful beer, sweet and malty with a very rich color. You could compare it to Guinness, but it’s not that heavy. I’d pair it with a good piece of meat or something equally robust, like short ribs or our savory pork meatballs.