If you've been drinking craft beer since the nineties like me (It's true, I'm old), you probably had to start your 'better beer' journey with a few imports. And if you grew up outside of the Northwest, an area where it all began, you surely were drinking beer brought over from Europe. Newcastle Brown, Guinness, and Harp lager were three beers I saw at a lot of bars in the Midwest. These watering holes were typically flooded with light lagers, so any imported beer was a treat. But as my tastes in flavorful beer evolved, I took notice of the special corked bottles on the shelves of certain bottle shops around Chicago. Belgian beers were a whole new world of 'craft beer' for me, and Chimay was one of the classic Belgian beers that I cut my teeth on. When I started to search out and enjoy other Trappist beers like Westmalle and Rochefort, I discovered that these yeast driven and malt driven ales were in a category all their own. Rich, complex, and fruity described these beers, yet they were remarkably light, dry, and drinkable. It was then that I sought out more Belgian Styles and it fueled a passion for beer and homebrewing, which of course led to me to become a professional brewer and this crazy life I now lead.
Belgian Beers styles cover a wide range of colors, flavors, and aromas. From Saisons and Biere De Gardes to the Abbey styles of Dubbel, Tripel, and Quads, to the seemingly un-caterorized beers like Orval, Duvel, and Deus. I haven't even mentioned the lambics and the Flanders styles of beer. These wild, funky and sour beers also provide a lot of inspiration to Alesong. You can clearly see that the Belgian-style beers are nearly impossible to boil down to a single sentence descriptor.
Dubbel is one of the handful of Trappist Style beers originating in Belgium. Trappist beers are a group of beers made in monasteries throughout Belgium and the Netherlands. Chimay 'red', actually called Chimay Primiere, is one of the classic examples of a dubbel that you could get in our country when I was learning about all of these Belgian Styles. For our 4th beer (and non-barrel aged) in the November 2017 bottle release we set out to tackle this style. Now, imitating the classic Chimay Premiere, or any of the notable Belgian Dubbels would be impossible to do, but we are certainly inspired by the flavors and traditions of many of the world's classic beers. Dubbels, in general, are described as slightly strong, reddish brown ales, whose body is thinned by the use of sugar in the recipe (that's the dry and drinkable part of many Belgian beers). It is typically lightly hopped with a dry to modest body. Complex caramel, raisin, and fruity flavors are noticeable and it has a fairly crisp finish.
Our dubbel, which we creatively have named Dubbel, carries on many of those traits. It is just over 7%abv and has mild notes of fruit (pear, apple, banana), with a touch of raisin and sweet caramel, and then it finishes crisply with a light body and very little flavors lingering behind. The yeast did it's job well, as do most Belgian yeast strains, in creating unique and complex flavors and aromas while leaving very little sweetness from unfermented sugars behind. Give our take on the classic Dubbel a try and let us know if we came anywhere close. Or, if you're new to many styles like this, throw your expectations out the window and enjoy this rich, complex, and malty yeast driven take on a Belgian Dubbel. Prost!