Several years ago I was sitting in a café in Paris, France and after a long day of sightseeing was in the mood for a crisp, refreshing beer. I wanted something distinctly European and so I ordered a Leffe, which I was not so familiar with at the time. The waiter arrived with the signature chalice-shaped glass and I could hardly wait to grab the golden honeyed brew with slight frothy head from his tray. This lightly spiced Belgian ale was ever so sweet with a subtle caramel and clove aroma and wonderful creamy mouth feel - it totally "hit the spot".
After a week of travel filled with breathtaking sights and many memorable meals I just couldn't stop thinking about how delicious that beer was that afternoon. Two age-old questions were looming: was Leffe widely available in the US so that I could find it locally and would it taste as good as it did that afternoon in Paris?
The minute I came home I needed to find everything I could about the brewery and most importantly introduce friends to my new favorite beer. I was intrigued with the centuries of history that have contributed to this amazing elixir and was like a little kid whose thirst could only be quenched with information (and more Leffe). The brewing tradition of the Leffe beers dates back more than 700 years to the Abbey Notre-Dame de Leffe, founded in 1152 in the town of Dinant in Belgium. Today, the Abbey De Leffe Monks continue to have input into the production and marketing of the beer. In fact, the revenue from sales of Leffe continues to be the largest source of income for the Leffe Abbey allowing them to continue with their charitable endeavors.
So the next time you are in the mood for a beer do yourself a favor and try some Leffe Blonde. Look closely at the label on a bottle and you'll see an image in the style of a stained-glass window with a picture of the church tower of the Abbey Notre-Dame de Leffe. Pop it open and pour it into your glass and let the aromas of warm spice and citrus transport you to your favorite European café on a warm afternoon. And remember, you'll be honoring a centuries-old tradition that is symbolized by the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Leffe. And by the way, the answers to the questions I posed above are "Yes" and a resounding "YES".