The history of Leffe beer goes back to the abbey of Notre Dame de Leffe in southern Belgium, founded in 1152. Like most abbeys of the day, the monks of the abbey brewed beer. The abbey had a rough history, destroyed by fire, flood, overran by troops in multiple wars, etc. The French Revolution saw the brewery destroyed and the abbey deserted in 1794, but the monks returned in 1902.
In 1952, production of beer was continued with the partnership of a Flemish brewery. This brewery was purchased later by Interbrew (now InBev), and the Leffe brand is now brewed at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven.
Leffe Blonde is 6.6% ABV and it is recommended the beer be served in a chalice glass, which I did have on hand (albeit, a Schlitz chalice, but a chalice none the less!).
The style of “blonde ale,” as well as that of “abbey ales” are somewhat of a catch-all term, but for the most part, blondes should be yellow to gold in color, clear and be mostly malty (but still light) in flavor. There should be light hop flavor and from the esters that are found in this style, some fruity undertones. “Summer ales” and kölschs have some common links to blondes, too.
Leffe Blonde has a light aroma… “Belgian-y” in character with some yeasty and bready components. It poured a nice light golden, perfectly clear color with a fair amount of carbonation.
The carbonation carries through in the mouthfeel, too, with enough CO2 to be a little prickly. This would be a good thirst-quencher and could stand up well to some light to medium- fatty foods, too.
The beer has a yeasty, slightly bready flavor with light hoppiness (more of the resiny type of European hops than any grapefruit dominant West Coast hops). It has a nice, full mouthfeel, which was a surprise for me for what I thought was going to be a very light beer. The light bitterness of the hops extends into the finish, which is is fairly dry.
I know it’s popular to hate all InBev offerings, but I think Leffe Blonde is a solid beer. It had more complexity than I expected. In this category, there are LOTS of others to choose from, and at 6.6% it’s not quite a session beer, but this is a good beer and would pair up great with some cheeses, chicken or fish dishes, making it quite versatile. For me, personally, if I’m going to drink a beer like this I would probably gravitate more toward a witbier or something along those lines, but this is one of the better “blonde ales” I have had.