The majority of Belgian beers are brewed year-round with no specific time frame. Winter or Christmas beers, however, are the exception.
Usually, winter beers are brewed in August and September and matured for a couple of months so that they are ready for consumption by the beginning of winter. As a rule, this type of beer is pretty strong (9-11% ABV) and spiced with additional ingredients such as cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, vanilla, etc.
Every year, a festival dedicated exclusively to winter and Christmas beer takes place in Essen, near Antwerp, close to the Dutch border. For one weekend in December, beer-lovers gather to taste almost 200 variations of this specific type of beer. Among the most interesting types are wood-matured beers and mulled kriek (“glühkriek”)—the perfect winter warmers.