In the land of beer, Belgium, their famous “Dubbel” brew flows like wine. Here, locals flock to cafes and bars every day to nibble on food and wash it down with their favourite beer. But, why is it called Dubbel? Is it double fermented?
If you’re unfamiliar with this style, or wasn’t aware there wasn’t a whole lot out there besides lagers and ales, don’t worry – this is all pretty straightforward.
Much like wine, there are a great number of historical European beer styles that have now caught on in the New World. Modern day brewers are looking to the past for inspiration, and are trying new spins on classic styles. Consumers are much more educated than ever, and once they discover something they like, they inevitably look to the original to see where the inspiration came from.
This particular style, the Belgian Dubbel, was originally classified as a Trappist style beer, a whole other category of its own. This category is strictly regulated, being that only 8 breweries in the world are allowed to label their beers as “Trappist”. What makes these beers so interesting is that they are brewed by monks, whose recipe and method of production dates back an extremely long time. It is kind of strange to think of monks brewing beer, but historically they were made in an effort to raise funds for the Church.
Taste the Dubbel
These dubbel beers are strong brown ales, clocking in at around 8% alcohol. Dubbels will have typical brown ale notes of nuts, caramel, and chocolate, but they will also show some toffee, brown sugar, cereal, and spiced fruit notes. Although there is some confusion about the names dubbel/triple, it doesn’t denote the number of fermentations. However, there are many dubbel that are “bottle conditioned” or fermented in bottle, much like traditional method sparkling wine. Another thing that sets these beers apart is their sweet note. Even though higher alcohol can trick your mouth into tasting residual sugar when there isn’t any, there are many of these beers that do have a touch of sweetness to them.
This, of course, makes these beers extremely effervescent and bubbly, which makes them excellent with a number of foods. This can be seen, as many dubbels are packaged in 750ml bottles with a Champagne cork and wire cage. Special care must be taken when pouring these beers, because they can blow up like a shook can on 7up.
Dubbel and Food
Looking for something else to eat with that Dubbel besides a winter cheese platter? How about spiced duck with red fruit (cherry/pomegranate) sauce? Dubbels are frequently referred to as the Red Burgundy of beer, and we all know how great Pinot Noir and duck is.
Due to the richness of the beer, and the higher alcohol content, this intensity needs to be matched in the food as well. Slow roasted pork, spiced lamb, sausages, or even Moroccan flavours found in tagine would work very well. Try some different things, and see what you like.
If you’re not hungry, stick to the beer – that high alcohol will keep you warm on cold days like today, and if you drink enough, will knock you out cold for an undisturbed 9 hour sleep.