Belgian Dubbel is a rich malty beer with spicy and mild alcoholic characteristics. Some dark fruit aromas and flavors may be present, with no lingering hop flavor. It gets its caramel color not from roasted malts but from a highly caramelized sugar syrup called “candi syrup.”
Belgian Dark Ale
Belgian Darks offer a massive range of characters. Colors play within the amber to light brown to deep garnet hues, with thick, rocky heads of great retention. Aromas can be anywhere from traces of yeast, spiced, malty, floral and even slightly intoxicating. Flavors from dry and spiced, to sweet and malty. Most have a low level of bitterness.
Examples: Leffe Brown, Unibroue Trois Pistoles, North Coast Brother Thelonius
The Belgian Dubbel is a rich malty beer with some spicy / phenolic and mild alcoholic characteristics. Not as much fruitiness as the Belgian Strong Dark Ale but some dark fruit aromas and flavors may be present. Mild hop bitterness with no lingering hop flavors. It may show traits of a steely caramel flavor from the use of crystal malt or dark candy sugar. Look for a medium to full body with an expressive carbonation.
Examples: Chimay (Red), St Bernardus Prior 8, Bells Hell Hath No Fury
The name “Tripel” actually stems from part of the brewing process, in which brewers use up to three times the amount of malt than a standard Trappist “Simple.” Traditionally, Tripels are bright yellow to gold in color, which is a shade or two darker than the average Pilsener. Head should be big, dense and creamy. Aroma and flavor runs along complex, spicy phenolic, powdery yeast, fruity/estery with a sweet finish. Sweetness comes from both the pale malts and the higher alcohol. Bitterness is up there for a beer with such a light body for its strength, but at times is barely perceived amongst the even balance of malts and hops. The lighter body comes from the use of Belgian candy sugar (up to 25% sucrose), which not only lightens the body, but also adds complex alcoholic aromas and flavors. Small amounts of spices are sometimes added as well.
Examples: Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Victory Golden Monkey, Tripel Karmeliet
Inspired by the Trappist brewers of Belgium, a Quadrupel is a Belgian style ale of great strength with bolder flavor compared to its Dubbel and Tripel sister styles. Typically a dark creation that ranges within the deep red, brown and garnet hues. Full bodied with a rich malty palate. Phenols are usually at a moderate level. Sweet with a low bitterness yet a well perceived alcohol.
Examples: St Bernardus Abt 12, Gulden Draak Quad 9000, Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad
Flanders Red Ale
Flanders Reds are commonly referred to as the “red” beers of West Flanders. Belgian Red Beers are typically light-bodied brews with reddish-brown colors. They are infamous for their distinct sharp, fruity, sour and tart flavors which are created by special yeast strains. Very complex beers, they are produced under the age old tradition of long-term cask aging in oak, and the blending of young and old beers.
Examples: Duchesse De Bourgogne, Rodenbach Grand Cru, The Bruery Oude Tart
A traditional Belgian blend of young and old Lambics, which are then bottle after blending, thenaged for 2-3 years to produce a dryer, fruitier and more intense style of Lambic. There is no hop character, some are filtered and force carbonated if not pasteurized as well. Some say that this is the more harsh lambic as the sourness is pretty intense.
Examples: Timmerman’s Oude Gueuze, Lindeman’s Gueuze Cuvee Rene, Tilquin Gueuze
A spontaneous fermented unblended ale that is indigenous to the Senne Valley of Belgium, a large portion of wheat brings out the crispness though the flavor is dominated with a unique tartness from the wild yeast and bacteria that inoculate the brew from both airborne and tainted barrels that they ferment in. Light bodied with little hop flavor or bitterness. Look for hard cider, white wine or similar tartness. Lambics are aged before consumption to ensure that the tartness has mellowed. Many are turned in to Fruit Lambics where whole fruit is added after spontaneous fermentation has started.
Examples: Lindeman’s Kriek Lambic (Cherry), Boon Framboise Lambic (Raspberry), Rivertown Lambic
Saisons are sturdy farmhouse ale that was traditionally brewed in the winter, to be consumed throughout the summer months. Not so long ago it was close to being an endangered style, but over recent years there’s been a massive revival; especially in the US.
This is a very complex style; many are very fruity in the aroma and flavor. Look for earthy yeast tones, mild to moderate tartness. Lots of spice and with a medium bitterness. They tend to be semi-dry with many only having touch of sweetness.
Examples: Saison Dupont Farmhouse Ale, Goose Island Sofie, Ommegang Hennepin
A Belgian Style ale that’s very pale and cloudy in appearance due to it being unfiltered and the high level of wheat, and sometimes oats, that’s used in the mash. Always spiced, generally with coriander, orange peel and other oddball spices or herbs in the back ground. The crispness and slight twang comes from the wheat and the lively level of carbonation. This is one style that many brewers in the US have taken a liking to and have done a very good job of staying to style. Sometimes served with a lemon, but if you truly want to enjoy the untainted subtleties of this style you’ll ask for yours without one. Often referred to as “white beers” (witbieren) due to the cloudiness / yeast in suspension.
Examples: Blue Moon Belgian White, Avery White Rascal, Hoegaarden Original