Our last post was about Tripel, one of Belgium’s best known beers. Dubbel is another one. Like Tripels, Dubbel have their lineage in ancient monastic brewing traditions. Westmalle’s version dates back to the mid-1800s, about five years before the US Civil War, but the inspiration goes back to the Middle Ages. While several Dubbels are Trappist Ales produced by Monks, many are not. That makes them Abbey Ales, which are brewed commercially in the monastic style.
Dubbels are a strong brown ale, with restrained hop bitterness, prominent fruity esters and cereal-like maltiness. Spicy clove and herbal phenolic flavors are common. Most are toasty, but they should not be roasty. Many have a sweetness in the middle, but finish dry. Although they are higher in alcohol than average styles, they should never be hot.
Dubbels are darker than Tripels, which always seems backwards… as beers get “bigger” they usually get darker. Dubbels can be dark amber, copper or light brown, ranging from 10-17 SRM.* Hop bitterness is subdued, the balance swings toward the malt with a 15-25 IBUs* range. Dubbel alcohol content is mid-range, usually 6-7.6% ABV*, however it may creep into the low 8s.
The Westmalle Abbey also brews a fantastic Dubbel. Like the Tripel, their Dubbel is the epitome of the style. It pours a coppery-brown color, with aromas of raisin, banana and plums. You’ll taste chocolate, toast and fruit, that have a soft sweetness that fades into a dry finish.
A favorite local version is from Alabama’s Straight to Ale. The Brother Joseph Dubbel, aka BroJoe, is a delicious American Dubbel that pays tribute to a Bavarian-born Monk who built the Ave Maria Grotto at the St. Bernard Abbey in rural Alabama.
There are so many great Dubbels out there, definitely try La Trappe Dubbel, Chimay Red, Trappistes Rochefort 6, Russian River Benediction, Allagash Dubbel, Goose Island Pere Jacques and Lost Abbey Lost & Found.
Dubbels are complex and are perfect for wild game and roasted meats. Try them with Lamb, Venison, Duck, and the style paris well with a traditional Beef Stew or roasted Pork Loin. Dubbels pairs with washed-rind abbey cheese, also nice are Roquefort or Stilton. And for dessert, go with Chocolate Truffles or a high-quality Milk Chocolate, or a fruity dessert with Blackberries.
*Standard Reference Method (color)
*International Bitterness Units (hop alpha-acid utilization)
*Alcohol by Volume
All quantitative specifications are from the BJCP Style Guide