Belgian pale ale
Booze factor: 4.8-5.5%
How's it taste: A smoother beer with much less spiciness or floral character than most other Belgian styles (although there's still plenty of fruit on the nose and palate). Perceived hoppiness is even a thing here, especially on the dry finish.
What you should know about it: This is Belgium's answer to session beer, or lower-alcohol brews that you can drink more than one of without running the risk of getting goofy. You could also look at this as Britain's greatest influence on a Belgian brewing style, which was developed during the 18th century, and can use British yeast strains or hop varieties.
What you should eat with it: Mussels, clams (especially fried), peel-and-eat shrimp, and fish & chips all go well with this style, where the fruitiness works well with the natural sweetness of the seafood
Prime examples: Palm Speciale, Ommegang Belgian-Style Pale Ale (BPA)
Belgian golden strong ale
Booze factor: 7.5-10.5%
How's it taste: What most people think of when they think "Belgian beer": fruity flavors of apples, oranges, and pears with spice and a dry finish. It might help to think of it as a reined-in tripel.
What you should know about it: The original commercial example of this was created by Duvel in response to popularization of pale beers. If you're ever unsure if what you’re drinking is a golden strong ale, a devil reference in the name is a dead giveaway (as you might've guessed, Duvel is the Flemmish word for "devil"), which pokes at how easy they are to drink despite their higher alcohol content.
What you should eat with it: Hearty fish like salmon, or aromatic spicy food like bánh mì or drunken noodles
Prime examples: Duvel, Russian River Damnation, North Coast PranQster
Booze factor: 5-7%
How's it taste: Straight lambic and geuze will be relatively sour and earthy/barnyardy/funky with almost no hop bitterness. Straight lambics use spontaneous fermentation, are practically uncarbonated, and will vary greatly from batch to batch, whereas geuzes offer a bit more stability in that regard. Being fruit lambics, krieks and framboises (as we’ll discuss below) will obviously taste like their namesake ingredients, but the good-quality versions will never taste syrupy or candy sweet.
What you should know about it: So much to be said about this style, so little time! Historically, lambic is a rustic style that's made using spontaneous fermentation, which means that the beer uses ambient yeast from the surrounding environment to turn wort into beer. You can break the style down into four categories: geuze, framboise, kriek, and straight lambic. Geuze (or "the Champagne of Belgium") is a blend of at least two different aged lambics to create a consistent product, which is almost exclusively served in bottles. Straight lambic is practically uncarbonated and can only really be seen on tap in the Senne Valley around Brussels, so if you're looking to check this off your beer bucket list, start looking at airfare!
Fruit lambics are somewhat more known in the US (most assume lambics all contain fruit). Sometimes it's even easy to figure out which ingredient is being used if you paid attention in French class in high school! Framboises are made with raspberries and krieks are made with cherries, but there are plenty of examples where blackberries, apricots, or other local fruits are thrown into the mix.
What you should eat with it: Fruit lambics are fantastic for pairing with desserts like Black Forest cake, creme brulee, or cheesecake, especially if they're using the same fruit as a sauce. Like Champagne, geuze is a layup pairing for everything from pasta to popcorn (and any mushroom-centric dishes seem to especially love it).
Prime examples: Cantillon Grand Cru Bruocsella (the only bottled straight lambic), Oude Gueuze Tilquin à l’Ancienne, Boon Kriek Mariage Parfait, De Cam Framboise Lambiek