By: Benjamin Welton
All the great detectives are drunks. No, I am not talking about real life police officials. I am here arguing that the best fictional sleuths—those men who exist only as black letters stuck inside of paper pages that are held together by glue and binding—are all wet. American icons like Philip Marlowe and The Continental Op mirror the hardcore drinking habits of their creators (Raymond Chandler for the former, Dashiell Hammett for the latter), whilst their international counterparts are as likely to ponder a case in a pub as they are in private.
During an evening out at an upscale French restaurant, I drank a beer and immediately felt like one such literary lush— Inspector Jules Maigret. With a tobacco pipe in one hand and a beer in the other, the laconic commissaire never fails to exude all things Gallic. Maigret’s creator, Georges Simenon, was Belgian, not French. A Walloon from Liège, Simenon was a morally complicated man who often found himself longing to be more like his upstanding creation. Despite their profound differences, both creator and creation shared a passion for beer, which is easy to understand given their Belgian heritage (one in actuality and the other in spirit). Brasserie Lefebvre’s Blanche De Bruxelles White Beer is emblematic of that rich heritage, and this bright, crisp beer is the perfect accompaniment to a night spent amongst the canals, whether they be in Paris or Brussels.
First Impression: I was served the Blanche De Bruxelles White Beer from an aluminum can, which, to be frank, did not impress me. Other than that, the can’s aesthetic, which primarily revolves around the Manneken Pis or le Petit Julien, the landmark bronze fountain in Brussels which depicts a young lad urinating. The good folks at Brasserie Lefebvre make sure that you can’t mistake their Belgian White Beer for anything other than what it is—a uniquely European product.
Pour: This beer pours fast and with a bright, light body that caps off with a surprisingly strong white head. As with other wheat beers, the Blanche De Bruxelles does not contain a lot of movement once it has been successfully poured, and yet to call this beer stagnant would be a mistake. The Blanche De Bruxelles should sit in your glass with calm, reassuring reserve.
Taste: The typically Belgian tastes of coriander and orange peel are immediate, and so too is a rich and creamy aftertaste. Rather than being bitter like its Germanic counterparts from Germany or the United Kingdom, the Blanche De Bruxelles is a cloudy beer that tastes refreshing, crisp, and clean. If enjoyed in a long pokal, this beer will slide down your throat, reaching the back of your spinal column even before you are ready for your second sip. The one drawback here is that this beer doesn’t sit well if left unattended. For instance, if you are engaged in a dinner conversation, then your best bet is to drink with some giddy-up. Also, this beer is somewhat seasonal, with its best time being late summer/early autumn.
IBU: Unknown, but somewhere between 10 and 20