Beer Review: Leffe Blonde/Blond Beer from Belgium

AFTER slumming it with Tesco Value Lager, I decided to move upmarket for my next beer review. That move upmarket led me to this: Belgian Blond(e) beer.
Bottle of Leffe Blond(e) Beer

Like Ostravar Premium Czech Lager, we can tell that Leffe is premium because of the gold wrapping around the top. Ostravar however, was a letdown, so can Leffe do any better?

The labels on the bottle don’t tell us an awful lot. That might be because the little it does say, it says in half a dozen European languages. Most prominent among those are Dutch and French. In fact, the entire bottle is split between Dutch and French names and descriptions. Not surprising, when Belgium itself is, more than ever, splitting apart at its French and Dutch seams. As a consequence, we have ‘Blond’ also spelled at ‘Blonde’. ‘Bière Belge’ as ‘Belgisch Bier’ and ‘Abbaye de’ as ‘Abdij van’. This final duel wording, referring to Leffe’s origins at an abbey. The ‘1240′ date on the label at the shoulder of the bottle is something of a mystery. That couldn’t possibly be the date that brewing started there. Maybe it’s the date that the Leffe abbey was founded? If you know, leave a comment in the usual place.

Leffe Blonde front label

Around the back, if you look carefully at the multilingual jumble of text, you can make out a small number of facts. We learn that it is an authentic Belgian abbey beer. But we learnt that from the front of the bottle. It is 330 millilitres, so be prepared for either overfilling your half pint glass, or leaving your pint glass looking unfulfilled. Malted barley is the only listed ingredient. The only pleasant surprise the rear label tells us is that this beer has a 6.6% volume. Pleasant because that will make it more potent than most of the ales and cheap lagers I’ve tried recently.
Leffe Blonde back label

Impressions of the outside are of its yellow-ness. Presumably playing on the blond(e) connections, this is a distinctively yellow package. And continental European too, going by the text and red roof-topped abbey.

Poured carefully into a glass, we are treated to a thick creamy head. And one that stays around. The colour is yellow-ish, but not as luminescently bright yellow as the labelling has led me to believe. Still, it does look appealing being a dark shade of gold.
Leffe Blonde poured into a glass

Giving this a thorough sniff, as I recommend that you do, you will be treated to something special. Leffe has the richest and maltiest smell I have seen so far. And not in a bad way. You will have to smell it for yourself to see what I mean.

The smell carried over to the taste. It is rich, creamy and malty. Unlike nearly every other malted barley brew I have tried, it is not the barley that comes through. With Leffe, it is the malt. This is by far the maltiest beer I have ever tried.

It is, however, somewhat gassy, causing me to burp once or twice. You also have to be particularly careful how you pour it into a glass, if that is your preferred method of drinking. Whilst pouring the remainder into the glass, with rather less care than the first portion, it was very easy to end up with a big pile of foam atop a tiny layer of drink.

The flavour, also, might not be to everyone’s taste. It is fairly strong, so if you don’t care for malt, you may not be impressed with this. Me however, I enjoyed every drop. Leffe, is different, but not unpleasant. It is actually quite drinkable. And like the many ales that I have tried, this lager manages to match them on smell and flavour. A rare accomplishment indeed.

Does Leffe deserve to play the ‘Premium’ card in the same way as Ostravar? Unlike Ostravar, Leffe doesn’t just look quality, it is a quality drink. And it does what it does differently to the others. For that, I think it is well worth your time trying a bottle for yourself.

Rating: 3.75 to 4.25 depending on how much you like strong maltiness

Have you tried Leffe? What did you think of it? And have you tried any other Blond(e) beers? Leave me and the other readers a comments!

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29 Responses to “Beer Review: Leffe Blonde/Blond Beer from Belgium”

  1. Beer Review: Polish Tyskie Gronie Premium Lager « Bloggy Woggy Says:

    […] Bloggy Woggy Just another WordPress.com weblog « Beer Review: Leffe Blonde/Blond Beer from Belgium […]

  2. Leigh Says:

    I must say, the marketing behind the Leffe brand is outstanding.

    A true classic beer.

  3. mcpvc Says:

    Good you liked Leffe. Have you tried Grimbergen ? Or any other Belgian beers yet?

  4. Greybeard Says:

    A good and fair review – you’re right about the gassy effects. Must be served cold (‘frige for at least 3 hrs) as any warmth makes it a little sickly and even harder to pour and drink. That said, the body is good, the balance of bitterness is about right and drinkability is high although at 6.5% you won’t need too many. The maltiness and hence darker colour distinguishes it from many continental beers.

    One of the few European beers that could make a transition to draught in a pub. Being sold cheaply in 0.75 Litre bottles in many supermarkets now.

  5. Michiel Says:

    the “1240” refers to the first historical references to the Brewery and dates that were found about the Abbey. (The name was changed to Leffe Abbey in 1200)

    See also the video here:
    http://www.leffe.com/en-gb/het_erfgoed.html#video1

  6. Justin Says:

    Definitely agree with you about the maltiness of Leffe Blonde. I’m 18 and i’ve just moved to Louisiana after living in Waterloo, Belgium (about 45 minutes from the Leffe Abbey-of which i visited many times) for the past 9 years. Needless to say there is NOTHING as DISGUSTING and DISGRACEFUL as American Beer. Leffe Blonde is my beer of choice, i had it ever Friday, Saturday and Sunday when i would go down to the pub-i miss it so much. It was like a good friend for me. I remember once I was trying to talk to this very beautiful Swedish girl, but there were guys surrounding her, and they were all drinking Bacardi Breezers and Eristoff Ice, so i strolled up with my Leffe Blonde in hand, and let’s just say that after that night I have always considered Leffe Blonde to be my lucky brew. I’m working on brewing my own beer right now and if anyone can give me some tips or ingredient suggestions then i would be extremely grateful.

    cheers.

  7. Ben Says:

    lager?? its blonde ale!!!

  8. barbara Says:

    I enjoy Leffe blond really, but wonder how to read the best before date:
    09/01/11 on the bottles I just purchased. Is it Y/M/D? That makes sense, but then my beer is past its expiry date. If anyone knows, please let me know. Then I can either continue to enjoy my Leffe or return it to where I bought it for a refund.

  9. Greybeard Says:

    Barbara, the date is 9th Jan 2011, only the Swedes use YY/MM/DD.

  10. barbara Says:

    Thanks greybeard. I appreciate it!

  11. alex Says:

    This is one of the worst beers I have ever tasted.

  12. alex Says:

    Pure Garbage!!!! Try some German beer it is the best in the world.

  13. Greybeard Says:

    Alex,
    “Some German beer” seems a little vague. Did you have one in mind?

  14. Péter Says:

    Leffe isn’t half bad, but I don’t think it’s a lager…
    And for German beers, I would suggest Köstritzer Schwarz.

  15. Lucia Phipps Says:

    If only more than 75 people could read about this.

  16. Alb Says:

    This should really be poured to the proper Leffe glass, to dump a lovely Belgium ale into a half pint or even pint glass is a sin. I’d drink it from a wine glass before a pint glass. This is a beer to be sipped and savoured not glugged back.

  17. Dallas Says:

    He is absolutely right! Im a current employee at the Belgium Beer cafe Brisbane and this beer needs to consumed from a chalice type glass at the very least. If you loved the Blonde, try the Brune. Leffe really do know how to make well structured beers!

  18. Flooring Trends 2011 Post Domotex Pre-Surfaces Preview | BuildDirect Co-Founder Blog With Rob Banks Says:

    […] Forum Magazine booth in Hall 7 … Because they serve free Belgium Leffe beer, one of my absolute […]

  19. Ian Says:

    I’m just in the process of polishing off another bottle of this brew-I’m feeling a kind of golden glow permeate through to the very heart my inner being and a softening of the pain-must be the cloves,must be the malts, must be the spirit of the leffe blond- could be the 6,6 abv-mmmmm tasteeeeeee

  20. joex444 Says:

    I really don’t understand why people think German beer is the best, or American beer is utter crap. Where it’s made has nothing to do with what it is. And the American craft beer industry, IMO, is the most varied and diverse out there. They, as a group, produce beers of every style ever created — ones that originated in Belgium, England, Germany and ones that they merged, combined and truly gave birth to on their own.

    But I actually wanted to comment on what the author said about the taste being malt instead of barley. “Malt” is short for “malted barley.” So, what the author said made no damn sense. And I happen to have a 25cL bottle (well, several) in front of me and the dominant flavor is yeast not malt.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    What a great beer…

  22. James Duren Says:

    I tried some Leffe on a whim about 9 months ago. I first was shocked by the aroma…so rich and unique. Like I said in other posts, I’m an IPA man. The aromas couldn’t be more different, but they both are equally transcended. Leffe’s nose is fantastically golden, so rich, and the perfect interstection between honey and sugar.

    Taste wise, it doesn’t disappoint at all. I think you did the beer such tremendous justice in your description, so no need for me to add anything.

    Leffe is great as a staple, but is also a fantastic breath of fresh air for hoppy drinkers.

    • Baye Says:

      Τί εννοείς είναι μόνο μπύρα; Η guinness δεν είναι μόνο μπύρα, είναι κάτι παραπάνω (Όπως η balrocena είναι “κάτι παραπάνω από ένα αθλητικό κλαμπ” αν εννοείς την αναλογία μου). Guinness makes you strong, guinness makes you happy (και guinness makes you chubby, αλλά αυτό δεν το λένε…)Όπως και να’ χει I like!

  23. glyn howells Says:

    i’ve been brought up on lager,my first drink was “stella”, over the years/decades i’ve tasted most lagers,but my 2 fav’s are leffe + warstiener, both cost a bit more but worth it,when i get home from work on a hot summer’s evening,i open a bottle of cold leffe,boy the taste,head,it’s just fab no other one so far comes near it,needless to say 4 leffe’s later my mrs wakeing me up telling me it’s time to go in.(spoilsport).long live leffe!

  24. Peter De Bock Says:

    Hi, I’m from Belgium, been savouring local beers since thirty years now and if you think Leffe Blond has a full flavour, then my God, are you in for a treat: try some of the less commercial beers like Orval, Duvel, Westmalle, Rochefort, Sint-Bernardus and many others. Actually, we consider Leffe Blond to be a cheap, mass produced supermarket fluke among the other truely amazing real Belgian beers. Try some Gueuze or Kriek or some real Trappist instead! Cheers!

  25. Ian Wardell Says:

    I ordered a bottle of Leffe lager in a pub last night. They had no bottles which I recognised no becks, stelli etc, so thought I’d try it.

    I took a few sips, then left the other 80% or so. The most disgusting lager I’ve tasted in my life! Just relieved I didn’t become ill!

  26. Dax Says:

    If you liked the Leffe you have to plan to Belgium. It is only in Belgium where you get the true taste of all the great Belgium brews. Most of the Belgian beers have their own glass that is designed to bring out the true taste of the beer. I am with mvpvc, if you like Leffe you really need to try out all the Belgian brews. If you can find Delirium you will be in for a treat.

  27. Jimmy Says:

    I didnt like this, I know its an ancient beer with good reviews but to me it tasted like what I imagine home brew to taste like. Too strong and too tangy.

  28. Steve Says:

    Had a weekend in ostendand got hooked, imagine my surprise all the best supermarkets stock in 750ml bottles and lidl have been doing two for a fiver.

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