Our universal love for beer is second to the love for Belgian Beers only. One of our favourites is undoubtedly the world-renowned Leffe, one of Belgium’s finest brews.
But as delicious as this incredible blond is, it also has a century-long history of delighting the thirstiest palates.
The ideal way of discovering the wonders of Leffe would be to travel all the way to Notre Dame de Leffe, much to the delight of the monks who, according to historical reports, have started welcoming thirsty guests and pilgrims way back to 1152.
While we are still waiting for better times to travel and pay homage to the hard work of these devoted brewers, we’ve decided to put our knowledge to your service and deliver you the best Leffe Beer experience without having to leave your couch.
Are you thirsty from some beer stories?
Leffe, More Than Just A Beer…
Since the very beginning, when the Premonastrensian canons founded their Abbey in Notre Dame de Leffe, it was clear they weren’t much alike other monks. For starters, they truly enjoyed being hospitable to pilgrims and travellers, always providing them with delicious refreshments.
But what sounds to us like a mere habit of courtesy, was, in fact, one of their order’s cardinal principles.
The Premonastrensian, in fact, much to the liking of other orders, firmly believe in leading a life of prayer and seclusion, but are devoted to helping pilgrims and the poors.
Who would’ve thought that this simple act of religious kindness would have contributed to giving us one of the most delicious Belgian Beers in the world?
Did The Pandemic Invent Leffe Beer?
The year was 1240 and, as one might expect from what they remember from their history classes, epidemics and pestilences were much more common – and disastrous- than they are today.
As you probably know, most dangerous pathogens travel through water and the 13th century certainly wasn’t famous for its disinfection techniques… That’s when the good Premonstratensian canons had a genius idea.
As we have already mentioned, the monks were famous for the delicious refreshments they gave to whomever was visiting, and yet plain water wasn’t exactly safe.
They then decided to build a brewery near the abbey: during the brewing process, in fact, water reaches boiling temperatures thus killing all the harmful microbes.
Through this clever expedient, the monks were not only able to quench the pilgrims thirst while avoiding spreading sickness, but they also laid out the foundations of Leffe (YES, they’re still using the same recipe from 1240!).
Beer In The Middle Age? Not That Uncommon…
When thinking of beer, we probably are all aware of the fact that this gorgeous drink is older than anything we know.
And yes, we know that beer built the pyramids – or at least, the diligent workers that built them seemed to really enjoy a daily brew- but what about the Middle Age?
Surely, we all think of the 13th century as a dark historical period where commodities were hardly ever available to most of the people. So, we can’t really imagine the popularity of this drink amongst well… everyone!
And while beer was popular and drunk everywhere, it was not the kind of beverage we are accustomed to.
First, because even the most traditional products have changed brewing techniques to comply with nowaday safety standards, second because the process had to be re-adapted to satisfy the increased demand of beer, and third because beer was not just a drink back then.
When the monks of Leffe first started brewing their beer, they did so in order to provide their guests with something that was pleasant and safe to drink: beer was easy to brew and, as opposed to water, wasn’t at risk of carrying dangerous pathogens. And that was true outside of Belgium and the secluded walls of the abbey, as well.
In addition to that, beer was often consumed as a medicine and as a liquid form of nutrition. All while being exceptionally cheaper -and faster to do- than wine.
The Recipe: A Successful Form Of Tradition…
The abbey of Notre Dame de Leffe continued its journey throughout the centuries, often suffering from major catastrophes, such as the destruction of the old building in the 19th century. It wasn’t until 1952, when Father-Abbot Nys and Albert Lootvoet decided to rediscover the old recipe and to revive the abbey’s brewing tradition, providing us with their delicious beers.
As many can already imagine, the Leffe is a perfect example of abbey beers and comprehends many kinds of different brews in its range.
Despite the fact that Leffe comes from a century long tradition of abbey brewers, it’s not produced inside the walls of Notre Dame de Leffe anymore.
Its increased popularity during the 20th century, in fact, made it impossible to keep the production at an abbey level and required bigger production structures.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s not, still, one of the best Belgian Beers around!
The Magnificent Nine: A Comprehensive List Of All The Leffe Beers You Need To Convert
After spending an awful lot of time discussing the history of Leffe we start feeling slightly parched, don’t you? Then, much similarly to the canons’ fashion, here’s our comprehensive list of all the Leffe beers that your thirst can buy. Plus, a few helpful suggestions on how to pair them up properly to enjoy the experience. Now, we are not suggesting that the good monks that first created the recipe of one of the world’s favourite beers would necessarily condone similar mundane feasts, but nobody ever said that you needed to be religious to enjoy a cold beer, so…
#1 The Blonde
When you think of Leffe, your mind instantly thinks of the Blonde. After all, who doesn’t love a nice, aromatic belgian pale ale with hints of cloves, banana and vanilla? No one, according to the World Beer Awards! This incredible craft beer was, in fact, awarded a gold medal in 2017 for “World’s Best Belgian Style Blonde”, and in 2019 a silver medal for the category “World’s Best IPA Speciality”. Not bad, am I right?
This blonde goes along well with many foods and recipes, but if you want to play it fancy try it with a nice, caramelised crème brûlée.
#2 The Brown
Another famous and enchanting beer from the abbey of Leffe is undoubtedly the brown. Or, as they call it, the Brun. This is another award winning brew, having secured a bronze medal at the World Beer Awards in 2019 for “World’s Best Dark Belgian Style Dubbel”. And with its incredible toffee and caramel aroma, accompanied by the sharp bitterness of its aftertaste, Leffe Brun qualifies as a complex brew that compliments perfectly a nice bowl of pita chips and hummus.
#3 The Ruby
Red might not be the holiest of colours, but this Ruby Leffe certainly is enough to send your taste buds to beer heaven. For this recipe, they crafted a unique product combining the traditional flavours of Leffe Beer with the classic acidity of red forest fruits. Just enough to be one of your five a day! Like many other beers from Leffe, the Ruby is also an award winning beer, with its shiny bronze as “World’s Best Flavoured Fruit & Vegetable” at the World Beer Awards. Fancy a snack? We feel like the tanginess of the red fruits would compliment a nice cheese platter immensely.
#4 The Triple
If you are a fan of the Blonde, you can’t possibly think of going without giving the Triple a try. In fact, some might say it’s thrice as good! Triple the malt, triple the taste.
Thanks to secondary fermentation, the triple develops a complex, robust and bitter taste that will conquer your thirst from the first sip.
With its sophisticated citrusy and coriander after taste, the triple makes an amazing pair with smoked meats. Our suggestion? A nice, rich and dark pulled pork.
#6 The Rituel 9
If you are looking for an easy beer, the Rituel 9 is not for you. Having the highest ABV of all the Leffe’s range, it’s definitely not the kind of beer to be mindlessly chugged while watching sports.
That’s why it’s best known as a meditation beer! In addition to the usual recipe, the Rituel 9 has additional hops that enrich its aftertaste, making it perfect for sipping in the quiet of your home after dinner, with some nice dark chocolate. Who knows, after all the meditation you might also feel like reciting a prayer of devotion to the Premonstratensian canons!
#7 The Winter
The Hiver -or, in English, Winter- Leffe is a seasonal abbey style beer with distinctive notes of caramel, clove and a smoky aftertaste that compliments any seasonal dish incredibly well.
It is traditionally served in a chalice and we couldn’t possibly fathom the possibility of sitting in front of the fireplace without one in hand. After all, isn’t Christmas one of the holiest Christian holidays?
#8 The Royale
If there ever was a beer fit for royalty, the Leffe Royal is one of them. Top fermented using three kinds of hops, the Royal has a complex, bitter and almost haughty taste. Like a true royal!
It’s a strong pale ale with an ABV of 7.5%, dark golden with a fruity aftertaste and persistent notes of spices – cloves and pepper above all.
If you wish to match this beer royalty with a suitable pair, we have no doubt that fresh oysters would be the right choice.
#9 The Radieuse
Another feisty amber with a strong ABV of 8.2%. In the true fashion of abbey beers, it has a fruity and rather spicy taste that it’s not too overpowering and contributes to making it an enjoyable beer. It has distinctive citrus and coriander notes, and it’s best served in a chilled beer chalice, allowing all the flavours to come to life properly. It’s amazingly drinkable and would make the perfect match with a nice seafood platter.
Now, aren’t you thirsty for some good quality belgian beer? Leffe is probably the best option to start and learn your way around abbey beers. That’s why we suggest you to take the right time to savour each bottle as a mystic experience!
Leffe Beer? A Learning Experience…
Beer is far from being just a nice and refreshing brew to enjoy with friends and family: it’s also an historical – and living!- monument to the craftsmanship of those who invented our favourite recipes centuries ago. So, whenever someone you know starts nagging about your unconditional love for craft beer, follow our suggestions and invite them over for a nice learning session.
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