Dallas has few diversions other than eating, drinking and shopping.....and shopping does not interest us.
So we spend our time hopping from restaurant to restaurant and to every pub that we can find in search of the perfect meal and the perfect beer.

We randomly review restaurants and bars, dishes and beers at whim and give our brutally honest opinions of our findings. And while we concentrate on Dallas, we travel far and wide to sample cuisine from all regions of the country and beyond.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Beer 101 - Belgian Ales

Belgian Ale Styles

While sitting in a pub the other day drinking a superb Belgian quadrupel (it is what I do, drink) a drinking buddy asked me, "Snob" (yes, that is my real name) "What is the difference between a dubbel and a tripel, and how does a tripel differ from a quadrupel?"  "Well" I stammered, "I think it has to do with the length of the brewing process....or is it the number of fermentations?".  Bloody hell, I hate being called out.  So here, my friends, is a breakdown in the different types of Belgian Ales so that you don't get caught looking like a noob when asked about something you should already know.

Belgian Ale - The every day beer of Belgium, similar to an American Pale Ale, or Amber Ale or an English Brown Ale.  Typified by a lower alcohol content (say around 6%) that far most Belgians it is meant for daily consumption.  (No children, Stella Artois is not an ale, it is a lager and a mediocre one at that.  The locals refer to it as 'wife beater' beer and would be compared to PBR or Milwaukees Best by a Belgian.)

Belgian Strong Ale - Add candy sugar to the ale brewing process and you get an ale that is stronger, sweeter, full flavored and insidious.  The sweetness and light mouthfeel hide the fact that the beer is stronger (7% +) and will slap you down.

Abbey Dubbel - The Dubbel, Tripel and Quadrupel distinctions were originally reserved for the Abbey brewed beers.  Many secular beers, even here in the U.S., are brewing these styles of ales.  The dubbel is an ale that is allowed to go through a second fermention, sometimes in the brewery, sometimes in the bottle.  They are usually richley malted and are brown to dark brown with a persistent head.  Candy sugar is used to strengthen the brew and the style overlaps with Belgian ales or strong ales.

Abbey Tripel - This style was created by the monks at Westmalle abbey, so if you want to try the original, the best, the superior tripel ale, try the Westmalle, which can be found in many parts of the U.S..  Tripels are ales that have gone through a third fermentation and are usually golden or light amber in color and usually have long lasting, lacy heads.  The use of candy sugar and high carbonation can easily hide that fact that you are consuming lots of alcohol.  The biggest difference between the tripels and the other Belgians is that the tripels are usually hopped and have the floral nose that you would expect with hops.

Abbey Quadrupel - Also created by monks and copied by many secular breweries these ales go through the fermentation process 4 times.  This creates the richest, strongest, most complex flavors and are dark brown to red brown in color with a creamy mouthfeel.  Typically very high in malts with a background taste of yeast, fruits and chocolate and lots of alcohol (10% or more) to ruin your drive home (was that a mailbox?).  Whenever you mention Belgian ales and see a beer snob start drooling like Pavlov's dogs they are probably thinking about this style of ale.

No comments:

Post a Comment