Belgian Beer Corner: Floreffe Belgian Beers from the LeFebre Brewery
The Floreffe brand is currently brewed by Brasserie LeFebre, in the town of Quenast, not far from Brussels. This brand has been under their charge since 1876. However Floreffe beers date back much further than the 19th century.
The brand find its roots, not surprisingly, in the town of Floreffe, specifically in the town abbey, which was established in the name of St Norbert in 1221. The monks brewed their own speciality beer for many centuries using malts and hops that they grew themselves.
Eventually, as was the case with the vast majority of monasteries in and around the country, the brewing of these flavoursome beers switched to non-secular brewers. Floreffe Blonde is 6.5% abv. On pouring this beer you will see it is light amber, with a fluffy white head, which although dissipates quite quickly, leaves its mark on the sides of the glass.
It is reasonably light and easy to drink, quite sweet and malty on the first mouthful, then waxing yeasty. This dry beer has a long-lasting dry, bitterish aftertaste with a hoppy aroma and some spicy notes. The bottle has a green label.
Floreffe Dubbel, at 6.3% abv, is extremely tasty. Rather oaky, though perhaps reminiscent of liquorice or brown sugar, with a lovely fruity aftertaste. This brown beer has a head of froth that is much the same colour as the beer itself. It is quite fizzy on the tongue, and has a lovely fruity smell. A red label is what you should look out for in the packaging of this beer.
Somewhat similar to Dubbel is Floreffe Brune, though much stronger, at 8% alcohol by volume. This deep burgundy-coloured beer has a last-lasting head and an aroma similar to chocolate. It is quite sweet, though at the same time hoppy.
The white-labelled Floreffe brew is Tripel. A typical Belgian Tripel, it tastes both sweet and hoppy, though with caramel and honey undertones, leaving a crisp aftertaste of mild hops. This beer is artfully brewed to be highly thirst-quenching. The yeast used is a good source of vitamin B, and both Hallertau and Styrian hops are used in the brewing process. Tripel is a golden-yellow beer with an excessive head of froth. Stand it upright and pour carefully, as the final fermentation of this beer occurs in the bottle, leaving a bed of sediment.
It has always been traditional in some beer-brewing monasteries for the fathers to designate their “best” beer, and hold it in high esteem amongst all the others. In the case of Floreffe, their designated best is both the strongest and darkest of the range. Thus, at 8% abv, we have Floreffe La Meilleure (French for “the best”). This is a sweet beer with a multiplicity of flavours, including spices and lemons. The aftertaste is rather bitter.
La Meilleure has a puffy brown head, concealing below it a brownish red beer with a fruity, chocolate, yeasty aroma. This brew is distinguishable by its blue label. It is a powerful beer and a real find for any drinker.
LeFebre has done us beer drinkers proud by keeping this beer alive and well, with its fervently guarded recipes from days of old.