Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beer style of the week; Belgian Dubbel (Double Ale)

Originating in the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle in 1856, here is a style that effectively bridges the Belgian Strong Dark Ale and Belgian Tripel. The Dubbel should be fairly malty, lightly spicy, slightly astringent with a somewhat (but not over-powering) alcoholic backing. Dubbles may display some plum or prune-like fruitiness, maybe even a little pear-like tastes and aromas. A bit of molasses or candi sugar sweetness is to be expected. The body should be fairly full, yet not thick or syrupy.

Dubbles are the perfect ale to make Beef Carbonade (the national dish of Belgium) with.

Pair with rich stews, a variety of cheese, salamis or creamy desserts.

From the land of origin

Trappist Westvleteren 8 – Brouwerji Westveteren, Belgium – 8% ABV

Served at about 55F in a Westy silver-rimmed glass. It pours a deep and dark mahogany with a substantial beige head and some trailing, sliding and sticky lace. Sweet malt, fruit soaked in rum, hops, yeast and a mild pine scent make up the complex aroma. The lightly herbal malt features caramel and candy sugar sweetness in a rich velvety, nearly oily body. Beautiful symphonies of flavors mingle and harmonize. Ripe banana, plums, vanilla, fruitcake, coriander and cloves vie for attention within the dark rum-like warming alcohol background. Piney esters and an ever so slightly camphor astringency provide more interesting tastes. This wonderful brew pairs nicely with Molanari salami and Cabot Vintage Cheddar, and as can be imagined, any gourmet offering. Pure bliss!

Trappist Achel 8° Bruin - Brouwerij der St. Benedictusabdij - Achelse, Belgium – 8% ABV

11.2 dark brown bottle. Freshness date etched on back label (07/12) Served in a Piraat Goblet

It pours a deep, dark orange-hued amber.

A whiff of fresh honeycomb rises immediately from the bottle to glass. A yeasty smell is noticed throughout the glass. A faded horse stable aroma lingers in the background. A sweet malty smell comes and goes. A whiff of citrus is steady, if light.

Sweet caramel malty flavors dominate early, and then give way to citrusy grapefruit and orange-zest bitterness. A mild taste of cloves and peppery spices add, rather than detract from the overall malt to hop ratio.

A taste of sweet honey and hint of bourbon gives this Trappist its unique edge. Nice Brew!

Corsendonk Pater Abbey Brown Ale – Brouwerji Corsendonk – Oud-Turnhout, Belgium – 7.5% ABV

One of the nicest colors in a to examine. Sort of a cloudy root beer/plum/teak with a nice off-white head which fades, but remains as a thin cover then reveals a runny lace. Fun to examine! The aroma is complex with a yeasty clove dominating and citrus, herbal malt and alcoholic fragrances coming into play. Medium bodied with a slightly oily feel and citrus bitterness is noticeable. Wood-pressed apple cider comes to mind.

New England

Allagash Dubbel – Allagash Brewing Co. – Portland, Maine – 7% ABV

12 oz. bottle. Freshness date not noticed.

It pours clear ruby-hued mahogany color with a two finger dark beige head and loads of lacings.

Big aromas of raisin, prune juice, caramel, molasses, and cherry brandy.

Tastes of raisins, ripe plums, caramel, toasted malt, toffee, and slight yeasty spiciness mingle and balance. A bit of apple brandy is noticed in the finish.

This highly drinkable Dubbel is medium bodied with a moderate effervescence. It becomes slight oily and slick as it warms. Very nice representation of the style!

Saint Boltoph’s Town – Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project – Massachusetts – 5.9%

Ok, it’s really listed as a Brown Ale, but I think it fits very nicely into the Dubbel style.

22oz brown bottle. Bottled on date stamped on cap top label. (Batch 10)

Served in a standard pint glass.

Pours a dark brownish amber mahogany color with a solid 2" beige head and lots of webby lacing.

Smells of roasted barley, barn, and resinous and citrusy hops blend nicely together. A whiff mixed fruit soaked in mellow rum floats in the background.

Brown Malty backbone with a touch of toffee. Evenly matched hoppy balance. A light taste of prunes with a hint of tobacco.

This is an amped up Brown Ale. It can easily slide into an Autumn or Fall Ale, or even Dubbel style profile. There's more malt, hops and alcoholic punch to this wonderfully crafted ale, than you find in your standard English Brown Ale.

Just a lovely ale for a cool evening! Very nice!

Next week; Whiskey and other boozy barrel-aged beers.


Quote: “Belgian beer has mystique: Some of it’s made by monks. Some of it tastes really, really weird. Some of its labels show elves and devils. People who know beer are sometimes unable to resist blowing huge chunks of cash on it. It is the Disneyland of beer.” – The late Michael Jackson, Beer Writer

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