Drinking from the Source: Belgian Dubbel

This month, we're taking a spring trip to Belgium, and savoring styles of beer from this small country with a remarkably diverse beer culture. This week, we'll sip some dubbels from Belgium. Dubbel is typically a darker, heartier style, with moderate ABV (6-8%). Dubbels typically feature sweeter flavors that arise from the dark candi sugar used to make them – and relatively small quantities of hops. Dubbel pairs well with rich, hearty meals – beef stew, steak, chili, and burgers. Their complexity and strength make them excellent for solitary sipping too.

 

For this week's tasting, I've selected “standard bearers” of this style from three Trappist breweries.

 

Trappistes Rochefort 6


Format Sampled: 11.2 oz. capped bottle

ABV: 7.5%

Availability: Purchased at Craft Bier Cellar


Tasting Notes: Pours a fuzzy amber with a thin, off-white foam. Aroma pops with apples, prune, maple syrup and hot taffy. The initial flavor has cider, raisin, and toffee. The sticky sweetness is tempered by a slight acidity and some subtly spicy hops. The body is moderately thick and syrupy, distributing the complex procession of stewed fruit flavors evenly over my palate, and lingering for many minutes. The aftertaste is distinctive — with apple butter, caramel, and a hint of nutmeg. As the beer warms, the caramel and spiced character becomes more forceful, and the body even more concentrated any syrupy. What an aperitif! With cheese, apples and a few glasses of the 6, who needs dinner?

 

Westmalle Dubbel

Format Sampled: 11.2 oz. capped bottle

ABV: 7.0%

Availability: Provided by Merchant du Vin


Tasting Notes: Pours a burnished brown with a thin, tan head. Aroma has cider, fresh chestnut, and green raisin. The initial flavor is savory and nutty. The mealy flavor of a roasted chestnut forms a surprisingly secure base, from which a slightly sour cider character leaps off into a spicy sunset. Forgive the lyricism, loyal reader, but this is inspiring! There are warming, spices that leap to the fore — cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger — all muted and glowing, rather than sharp and spicy. The body is surprisingly light and fluid for all the warmth and richness in the flavor. I imagine this beer on a cold fall evening, with an apple turnover and a fire ablaze!

 

Chimay Première

Format Sampled: 11.2 oz. capped bottle

ABV: 7.0%

Availability: Purchased at Craft Bier Cellar

Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy chestnut, with a thin scrim of white head. Aroma has raisin, pipe tobacco and walnut. Initial flavor is sour, musty, sweet, and fruity — all at once! There is an overriding dustiness, a cross between a used bookstore and a damp basement. It's ephemeral, and not unpleasant. There's a tacky, concentrated fruit layer under the dust and age – a sugared concentrate of prune, stone fruit, dried cherries and apple butter. The yeast adds a spicy character to the whole lovable jumble — clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Of the three, the Chimay is the boldest, and, dare I say, funkiest of the bunch. The aftertaste has tannin, sour fruit, wood and plenty of spice. Ten minutes after the last sip, it lingers on my palate, asking me to open another.

Last modified onMonday, 10 April 2017 12:36