This season, we're sipping beers of Belgian origin. We've slurped singels, drunk dubbels, and tanked tripels. We're moving on to the logical conclusion of this advancing series, loyal reader: drinking 200 proof grain alcohol from an enormous bucket! I jest. We'll actually be trying the strongest of the so-called “Abbey Ales.” These beers are known as a quadrupels, or quads, if you're a serious beer geek that would rather use your oxygen for alcohol metabolism, rather than pesky additional syllables. Typically exceeding 10% alcohol by volume, quads feature spicy, fruity flavors, and dense concentrated bodies. These beers pair well with strong, funky cheese, preserved meat, and long, philosophical conversations. Cheers!
La Trappe Quadrupel Trappist Ale
Format Sampled: 11.2 oz. capped bottle
Availability: Provided by Artisanal Imports, Inc.
Tasting Notes: Pours a sparkling copper with a dense layer of off-white head. Aroma is strong, with pear, prune and toffee. The initial flavor is dense, concentrated and fruity. It's the distilled flavor of candied apples, plums and cherries, plus a handful of fruitcakes. The sweetness is so profound that it nearly burns, and it's offset by a pleasantly tart acidity. There's a creamy aspect, like a cream sherry. As the solution warms, my palate has the spins, and the fruit flavor evolves to include quince paste and licorice, plus the fruity flavor of the alcohol itself. The aftertaste is sweet and lingering, emphasizing apple, berries and pear.
St. Bernardus Abt 12
Format Sampled: 750 ml corked bottle
Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market and Bakery
Tasting Notes: Pours a glowing garnet with a rich, light brown head. Aroma is rich, multi-layered with fresh cider, cold-brew coffee and spices. The initial flavor is similarly rich and complex. There's a rich, mulled opening — reminiscent of spiced cider, made darker with a hint of cold coffee. The richness shifts, and there's dark fruit — spiced plum, dried apples and clove and a bit of aged port. The aftertaste is spicy and rotund, with big, glowing hints of fruit flitting in and out, and whiffs of clove, coriander and cinnamon adding complexity. This is a supremely well-balanced quad — both opulent and subtle, carefully planned and wonderfully liberating.
Triporteur Full Moon 12
Format Sampled: 11.2 oz capped bottle
Availability: Purchased at 7-11
Tasting Notes: Pours a bright amber, with a thin layer of off-white head. Aroma is bright with candy apples, candy syrup and spices. Initial flavor is dense and syrupy. Apple butter, dark corn syrup, brown sugar and a sharp snap of pure rock candy issue a challenge to my tongue: “How many kinds of sweetness can you endure?” Under all the sugar, there's plenty of plush fruit — sugared plums, peaches, dried cherry and quince form a compact base. There's a bite amid the fruit, a hot, alcoholic jab that hits me in the gut, reminding me of the strength.