Category Archives: Dubbels

New Belgium ‘Abbey’ Dubbel

Rating:

65172365_1118621551655322_6265461500714942464_n“The story of New Belgium begins with an abbey: Not only were Belgium’s monastic beers the inspiration behind our Colorado brewery, but Abbey, a Belgian-style dubbel, was one of the first beers we released way back in 1991. Since then, it’s become our most award-winning offering. Sip Abbey, and sip New Belgium’s tradition.”

Glassware: Trappist chalice.

Appearance: Mahogany with ruby red hues. We get a full gaze through the beer when held to the light. Minimal head settling to a halo with some patchy lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Picking up a lot of the Belgian yeasty qualities such as banana runts, clove, pear/apple and peppery phenols. Moreish wafts of milk chocolate, caramel and dark fruits also getting amongst it. Maybe just a flutter of nutty malt, coffee and bubblegum as well. Love it…very conventional.

Flavour: It comes on with a fusion of Belgian yeasty notes and caramel/toffee sweetness. Dark fruits like raisin, plums, fig etc through the middle picking up a kind of banana split-like flavour as it rolls on. A little cameo of spice, chocolate and cocoa before a yeasty finish is dressed up with hints of toasty malt and coffee.

Mouthfeel: Pretty well rounded. Rather smooth and silky with medium body. Just the right amount of co2 to give it a lift. 7% AbV nicely tucked away.

Overall: That’s a pretty damn fine interpretation of the style. Lots of Belgian yeast character, caramel and dark fruit sweetness but also a nice roasty component as well. Solid offering.

Hargreaves Hill ‘AD’ Abbey Dubbel

Rating:

64225058_1108521519331992_7902258556374614016_n“Drawing inspiration from the Abbey brewing tradition, we use Belgian Special B malt and a funky Belgian yeast, to create notes of raisins and sarsaparilla.”

Glassware: Trappist Chalice.

Appearance: Deep reddish-brown revealing mahogany hues when held to the light. The head is loose and rocky, eventually retreating to the rim. Healthy lace clings to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: The first thing that hits the olfactory’s are these intense caramel and toffee overtones. Butterscotch and cocoa then morphing in to more yeast-driven notes of candied banana, honey, nutmeg, caramelized pears, raisin and prunes/dates. Getting an uber rich maple and or treacle sweetness from it once it settles…borderline cloying.

Flavour: That super rich sweetness transitions to the palate. There’s a hint of bitterness but it does little to stem the wave of caramel, toffee, honey and maple sweetness that follows. Very fine hints of toasty malt, cocoa and apple pie forming late as it finishes dry, fruity and spicy. Some good length on it though.

Mouthfeel: This is where it goes down hill a bit…it’s too thin for the style. It also feels kind of saturated from the low co2 and minimal balance.

Overall: Definitely not convinced but in saying that it’s still not a bad attempt. The big difference between this and something like a Westmalle or even our very own Mad Abbot is the balance. Even though it’s not really there it still isn’t a too bad a drop.

Insel Braurei Baltic Dubbel

Rating:

59392055_1080577912126353_8132901036063981568_nNO DESCRIPTION

Glassware: Trappist chalice.

Appearance: Pours a light brown with a wispy tanned overlay. Tight and fine bubbles which retain and work a healthy lace down the glass.

Aroma: Smells the goods. Layered with milk chocolate, hazelnut, plum, dates, yeasty spice and bubblegum. Once it warms we pick up hints of vanilla and coconut, toffee fudge and fairy floss. Every time we take a whiff there’s something new but we have to move on or it’ll become an essay!

Flavour: A lot less flamboyant than the aroma. Sort of takes more of a traditional approach with poignant yeasty spice and phenols, cocoa powder, dark fruits and rich burnt toffee. Doesn’t really shift far from this line with the aforementioned flavours carrying through to the extensive finish.

Mouthfeel: Nice and full. There’s a hint of co2 there with a promiscuous 8.5% AbV.

Overall: There’s a few firsts here. It’s our first crack at their range and it’s also our first crack at a German Dubbel. Furthermore it’s our first attempt at a “Baltic” Dubbel…although this could have more to do with the breweries geographical location. Being on an island surrounded by the Baltic sea and all!

Hawkers Beer Aquavit BA Dubbel

Rating:

48272874_999382020245943_2557939735309844480_n“The term dubbel is rooted in a Belgian Trappist beer naming convention which can be traced back to 1856. This brown ale has been aged in Aquavit barrels to produce a complex beer.”

Glassware: Goblet.

Appearance: Muddy chestnut brown with a ring of loosely held bubble around the rim. Some soapy lace left behind as we go.

Aroma: Rich, sweet and chock-full of chewy caramels, toffee, Christmas cake, spice, carob, prunes, oregano and burnt oranges – the latter surely being products of the Aquavit barrels. It’s lovely how the aromas tie together though. Superb.

Flavour: Getting more yeasty notes…estery fruits i.e banana, pear and earthy clove-like spice. Loads of caramel and toffee sweetness, dark fruits and fennel set up for a nice and warming finish. Not overly boozy though, still showing plenty of spice and dark fruit on the back palate.

Mouthfeel: Smooth as silk, chewy almost port-like texture. Full in body with low co2. The 11% AbV is incredibly well masked.

Overall: There’s only a small handful of Aussie brewers who’ve been able to pull off a brilliant Trappist ale. Hawkers have now placed themselves among them. This is a cracking Dubbel, kudos Hawkers!

Kereru ‘Velvet Boot’ Belgian Dubbel

Rating:

29104189_827204430797037_6024998861771112448_n“An amber Belgian-style Dubbel with an exuberant aroma of rum-soaked banana that gives way to brown sugar, caramel & spice. Brewed with lashings of Belgian dark candi syrup for an authentic complex taste. Serve at 8-10°C.”

Glassware: Trappist tulip.

Appearance: It pours an attractive copper red hue which dons a short beige cap. The head eventually peels off to a fine film but offers excellent lace work down the glass.

Aroma: Incredibly sweet but not cloying. Absolutely saturated in this thick, chewy caramel, toffee and butterscotch which blends with the ultra doughy and sticky raisin, date and rum notes really well. As it warms the estery characters come forward – sourdough, clove, banana etc. Undertones of plum jam, cocoa and stewed fruits. Oh my, absolutely superb!

Flavour: Good transition on to the palate. Tonnes of sticky sweetness – caramel, toffee, raisin, dates, all well supported by that doughy/bready malt. In come the subtle spices, earthy chocolate notes and stewed fruits before a big and well rounded finish with good length on the rear.

Mouthfeel: Velvety smooth (we can see where part of the name comes from). Full bodied, dense and chewy. Mild-moderate co2.

Overall: Magnificent! One of the best non-Belgian dubbels we’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. Can not fault it.

Brouwerij De Halve Maan ‘Brugze Zot’ Dubbel

Rating:

27067198_806476446203169_7033801945690186160_n“Brugse Zot Dubbel is a dark brown beer, leaning towards ruby ​​red. Brewed with six special malts, the beer has a unique and rich aroma in which the scent of honey, almond, chocolate and even brown sugar can be discovered.”

Glassware: Trappist goblet.

Appearance: Big and billowing four finger head that surges up and over the rim of the glass. It sits atop a very deep chestnut/brown body with crazy amounts of lace as it ebbs. Very attractive beer.

Aroma: Oh wow, unexpectedly sweet and fruity with a heady scent of either blackcurrant or blackberry leading out. More dark fruits and candied berries as it warms. Sticky toffee and caramel, syrup, spicy phenols, subtle chocolate and timber also coming through. So juicy and sweet but it’s no way cloying. Superb aroma.

Flavour: It’s not coming on as strong as we’d like. Some dark fruit sweetness, brown sugar and faint yeasty notes that impart adjunct spices, Christmas cake and prunes. It starts to fall away mid-palate and finishes somewhat weak, bitter and slightly spicy.

Mouth feel: Creamy texture, nice and vibrant co2 with medium weight. Well masked 7.5% ABV.

Overall: A fairly decent dubbel but it has nothing on the Trappist breweries like La Trappe or Rochefort – it seems to lack that depth and complexity in flavour. Not bad but not great either.

Grimbergen Dubbel

Rating:

27072982_806287862888694_6395039682140943563_n“Grimbergen Double-Ambrée – dark-coloured ale with the bittersweet flavours of caramel and dried plums, made from double-fermented hops and malts.”

Glassware: Trappist tulip.

Appearance: Deep mahogany colour with a wispy head that peels back to a film. It laces extremely well considering the lack of retention.

Aroma: Dark, malty and yeasty with some bitter chocolate on the flank. Quite the hop profile cutting through – earthy and somewhat floral which is infrequent for Belgian dubbels….nice touch though. Getting that banana runt and clove as we begin to scratch the surface. Underpinned by notes of tobacco, white bread and fig. Very good.

Flavour: Super earthy. Tonnes of fig, tree bark and grains which embrace some of that spicy and slightly fruity Belgian yeast on entry. Picking up plums, brown sugar and raisin through the mid as it delivers a dry estery finish full of pear, apple pie and cocoa on the back end.

Mouth feel: Creamy texture and quite high in co2. Only 6.5% ABV so the booze certainly doesn’t dictate. Medium-full body. Very well structured.

Overall: An extremely well brewed dubbel. Although it lacks a lot of that typical sweetness it makes up for it in the form of this kind of raw and earthy character. It’s no Westmalle but it’s still a bloody decent offering.

Red Hill ‘Dubbel Life’ Belgian Dubbel

Rating:

22008360_751656841685130_638067550920588303_n“Made with a 100% Belgian Malt bill from Castle Malting creating a beer dark brown in colour with malt flavour of dark fruit and warming alcohol. Our own inhouse (former) chemist, brewer Ajay was in charge of brewing up our own Belgian candi sugar, caramelising the sugar into a rich dark caramel toffee, then cooling it back to a solid rock. This was used in the boil adding caramel, chocolate and nutty flavours and keeping the beer light in body and easy drinking, even at 7.3%”

Served in a Trappist tulip. It pours out a deep amber with a copper tint. It struggled to produce much head as it swells to a finger and immediately retracts to a ring with limited lace work as it ebbs.
The nose offers some nice and traditional Belgian dubbel aromas – caramel, toffee, fig, cocoa, banana, clove and candi sugars. There is one component we dislike though…that is the funky and slightly vinegary character that’s happening. Call us old school but funky, tart, sour notes should be reserved for just that…sours. Not a bad aroma it just left us wanting.
The flavour follows the nose with a good foundation of sweet Belgian dubbel flavours like caramel, toffee, banana, clove, earthy fig and truffle but again we find that slightly tart and vinegary flavour distracting. It’s light in the lead up to the finish and a bit short in the tail as well.
Pretty lean and light on in texture. Slightly lifted co2 with quite a well concealed 7.1% ABV. Pretty smooth overall feel in the mouth.
We absolutely love this brewery and with exception to one or maybe two their beers are top notch. This one though….it’s a bit 50/50. We froth over big, dense and super sweet Belgian dubbels but this one was lacking that rich malt, spicy yeast and bubblegum notes that make them so bloody good. Slightly disappointing.

Red Hill Brewery Christmas Ale

Rating:

17425051_666679470182868_4161118406755777419_n“In the great tradition of the famous Belgian Breweries, our own special Christmas Ale is now available. This strong Belgian abbey styled ale is one of the brewery’s most highly awarded and requested. Deep orange in colour with a lasting creamy head. Spicy hop aroma from our own Hallertauer & Tettnanger hop flowers with a complex malty finish. Brewed with almost religious fervour, with extra long maturation and dry hopped in serving tanks . . . this one will continue to develop for a long time to come.”

Served in a Trappist chalice. It pours a deep apricot hue with a short lasting head. It gradually reduced to a collar with only scarce lace being managed.
The aroma is nice and yeasty, maybe lacking in the intensity that Belgian dubbels have but there’s still a good showing of rich caramel, toffee, plums, raisin, all spice and Christmas cake. Definitely something a little tangy in here…at times it’s a bit like cointreau but it’s more jaffa-like in its delivery. Just a suggestion of boozy warmth tickling the nostrils. Not a bad aroma by any means.
The mouth feel is dense with this kind of syrupy viscosity. Co2 is kept low with nice warming alcohols around the edges. Medium-full bodied.
The flavour offers a complex integration of spices, caramel sweetness and warming orange liqueur upfront. A dark fruit accent hinges on the boozy plum notes that carry forward in to the mid palate. The 8.3% ABV gradually intensifies as hints of cherries and a sweet bready malt lingers with toffee and caramelized pear on the back end.
We were slightly critical of this beer initially but it has more than come through, it’s quite different to a traditional Belgian dubbel and that’s much of the reason why. Kudos to the brewers for taking the courageous step away from tradition and pulling off an extremely tasty drop. Solid stuff.

Brouwerij Westvleteren Extra 8 Dubbel

Rating:

16939166_654142121436603_7879342697304430348_n“Westvleteren has the smallest output of the Trappist breweries, with only a small part of their production going very far into the world.”

Served in a Trappist chalice. She pours that gorgeous chestnut brown with a fizzy head that reduced to a collar. A nice wavy lace pattern is left clinging to the glass as we imbibe.
Superb aroma! It’s just oozing with thick syrupy caramel, toffee and butterscotch while decadent wafts of ripe banana, spice and prunes fill it out. So chewy, yeasty and sweet! Hot damn these guys are masters. Impeccable stuff here, easily one of the best aromas you’ll get from a traditional Belgian dubbel.
In the mouth there is a really nice consistency. Dense and creamy in texture, medium-full in body and mild-medium carbonation. Just a hint of bitterness in there to balance out the super silky malts. Again…So impressive.
The flavour profile literally takes every facet of the aroma and lays it on the tongue with such elegance that we’ve almost finished our beers with the review only half finished! This incredible progression of flavour from caramel and toffee to spice and subtle booze and then to punctuate on this estery, somewhat dry, sweet and spicy finish is simply divine! So thick and malty on the back end too.
Absolutely right on the money! In terms of traditional Belgian dubbel this is as close as one can get to the perfect example. The one downside, if we have to nitpick, is the fact that you will part with a good chunk of your weekly earnings to bag one but as the saying goes…”all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. You don’t want to be Jack in this situation.

Stumblefoot Brewing Co. ‘Pied-a-Terre’ Dubbel

Rating:

16997836_652108538306628_4305856770621125944_n“Our Pied-à-Terre Belgian Dubbel is all about its Belgian roots. The combination of this style’s yeast and malts make for a complex flavors. We often have people describing the orange, banana or clove we must have used making this beer. NOPE! These are all characters born from the yeast, malts and hops.”

Served in a Trappist tulip. Crimson red in appearance with a short head that quickly retreats to a ring with minimal lace left in its wake.
The nose is delicate, slightly vinegary and slightly tart. Not a good sign early on in this beer. A vigorous twirl does uncover some hidden traditional aromas like raisin, plums, fruit cake and esters and thank goodness for that because if it wasn’t for the latter this would almost be a drain pour. Pretty underwhelming nose to be honest.
The mouth feel is oily, a little thin and again tart and vinegary. Just a slight hint of acidity which, for us, is not welcome in a dubbel. Mild body and mild-moderate Co2. Average at best.
Unfortunately we’re seeing those somewhat tart vinegary flavours showing upfront. It is at least hitting its mark with the sweet plummy notes but there’s just not enough bottom end…where’s the chocolate? Where’s the spice and the sugary/malty caramelization? Hardly any convincing flavour in the finish either – flat, insipid and dull. What a shame.
We’ll concede that dubbels are a very difficult style to master but the overall aroma and flavor was way off. Who knows, it may not have travelled well or it may not have been stored properly. Either way it wasn’t up to scratch.

Brasserie Rochefort Trappistes 6 Dubbel

Rating:

16265674_638078353042980_7929978365064404711_n“Trappistes Rochefort 6 from Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy is a top fermentation beer with an alcohol content of 7.50%. Red-brown colour. Slightly spicy aroma and an intense taste of caramel, fruit, and hints of raisins.”

Served in a Trappist chalice. A copper/chestnut hue meets the eye. The pour generates a thumb of tightly held foam that trims off a smidge and settles to a fine sheet over the top. Not a great deal of lace but enough to decorate the glass as it ebbs.
We’d have to say this is the most unique-smelling Trappist Dubbel we’ve ever encountered. It’s pretty complex with this discernible blueberry/blackberry tartness on the nose. On one hand it offers floral scents of sandalwood, Jasmine and frangipani and on the other it’s sweet, slightly phenolic and plummy. It kind of has a sugary apricot scent to it as well. Smells like holidays! Exceptional stuff.
The mouth feel is seriously smooth with a creamy texture. It’s almost unfathomable that it’s 7.5% ABV, absolutely no indication as to its strength. Co2 is mild-moderate with a medium body. Classy stuff.
The front palate exhibits a distinctly sweet apricot and orange liqueur-like flavour. Really sugary as a more tangy and yeasty character evolves in the middle. Just a mild hint of dryness creeping in as sweet raisins and earthy notes of fig lead in to a dry, sweet and almost bourbon-esque finish.
Geez what did we just drink?! A glass of berry flavoured flowers with hints of sweet stone fruit and bourbon?! Incredible, and so far from your traditional Trappist Dubbel it isn’t funny. Very unexpected but a very fine offering.

Westmalle Trappist Abbey Dubbel

Rating:

15578706_615711041946378_9212293312418760437_n“Since 1856 the monks have also been brewing a dark Trappist beer along with their table beer. Since the recipe was modified in 1926, they have been brewing slightly heavier beer. This is the foundation of today’s Dubbel.”

Served in a Duvel Trappist tulip. The murky brown pour is topped off by a finger of loosely held bubble that eventually settles to a halo with a reasonable lace left clinging to the glass.
Geez it’s hard to resist a traditional Belgian Trappist Dubbel and the aroma of this sexy beast shows exactly why. It starts with the hallmark scents of banana bread, clove, fruit esters and brown sugar but as it settles in the glass wafts of tobacco, banana split, bubblegum, Christmas cake and plum jam begin to develop. It’s a super complex concoction but it’s extremely addictive. Incredible.
In the mouth it’s full bodied with a creamy texture. Despite the richness and weight it still manages to glide over the tongue with minimal grip in the swallow. Maybe a slight hint of bitterness there in the tail as well.
Upfront we taste all of those yeasty fruit esters and sweet, sugary malts spiked with a mild warmth from the 7% ABV. As it progresses we begin to see the rich notes of banana bread, Christmas cake and cocoa mix it up with the spicy clove and pepper that delivers this complex and sweet yeasty finish.
That’s a really classy Dubbel. The question is where does it rate among some of the best Dubbels in the world? Personally, we think the Ommegang and the St.Bernardus Prior 8 are slightly better…..but not by much. Still a lot of great qualities to this Dubbel. Delicious.

Holgate Brewhouse 2015 Release ‘Double Trouble’ Dubbel

Rating:

14632892_579329618917854_6830306356470439775_n“Brewed each year in Woodend as the leaves begin to fall from the trees, Double Trouble is a Holgate classic dating back to 2004. An homage to the Trappist monks of Belgium
who started brewing rich dark beers in around 1850, that would evolve into the beer style now known as dubbel. Using dark malts and rich caramelized candi sugar, the monks would formulate their own special recipe that would match the spicy fruity characteristics of their house yeast perfectly, to produce a rich and fantastically complex beer.”

Served in a wide rimmed tulip. At the centre she’s a solid dark brown working to a mahogany hue around the edges. Capping off is a finger and a bit of tanned foam that hastily collapses to a ring with some spotty lace left trailing behind. In true Dubbel fashion a big impression of dark fruit sweetness is the first to entertain the olfactory’s. We get hefty wafts of plums, raisin, dried figs, banana bread, clove and fruit cake leading out. Some mild fruit esters, toffee, white bread and jaffa are all subtle but certainly in here to fill it out. Maybe some boozy notes coming through as it comes up to room temperature as well. Quite a complex aroma. In the mouth it’s full bodied and rich but not overly heavy on the palate. A vibrant Co2 offers a slight lift while the 8% ABV presents with a bit of warmth. Surprisingly pleasant to drink. The flavour profile is extremely rich and decadent with a somewhat sharp sweetness that’s softened by chocolate, toasty malts and dates upfront. Hints of fruit esters and Belgian candy sugars flow across the mid as yeasty clove and banana bread lead in to a dry, earthy and somewhat dark fruity finish. Quite a few similarities to the 2014 Double Trouble. Yes we’ll concede the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of wriggle room when it comes to Belgian Abbey brewing, this is why we must take our hats off to any brewer that has the cojones to take on this intricate and centuries-old style of brewing. And to pull it off this well?? Respect.

Tuatara Brewing ‘Bottle of Waterloo’ Belgian Dubbel

Rating:

13413645_528871327297017_7835015821667166275_n“If you can bear the wait, this classic Dubbel will truly come into its own after 6 to 30 months of repose in a quiet, cool place to allow the already prominent plum, raisin notes to reconcile to perfection.”

We couldn’t even wait two weeks since the day we bought this bottle let alone lay it down for 6 months! Maybe another bottle is on the cards 😉 Moving on. We served this in a wide rimmed chalice. The dark brown pour just reveals a mahogany hue when held against the light. A wholesome three finger head is generated which retains well but eventually peels off and establishes a thin sheet that omits a wavy lace pattern down the walls of the glass. The term “pinning the tail on the donkey” comes to mind when summing up this aroma. They’ve absolutely nailed the basics. We get a nose-full of chocolate cake, licorice, tobacco, banana bread, clove and raisin that simply erupts out of the glass. We also get faint scents of fig and brown sugar creeping in too. Absolutely divine! In the mouth it’s held up well with a smooth and slightly sticky texture on the palate. The carbonation is low, the body medium-full and a considerably well contained ABV (7.5%) makes for a gracious swallow. Seriously drinkable. Upfront it’s malts-a-plenty. A delicious little plummy twang cuts in which opens up an approach for milk chocolate, licorice and ovaltine to sail through the mid and punctuate with a lightly roasted, somewhat sweet, chocolatey and figgy finish. Great duration on the back too, this lengthy and lustful drop just keeps getting better as it warms. Here’s another offering that this highly respected Kiwi brewery can add to its growing list of cracker beers. Another bottle of this to lay down is certainly on the cards, if it somehow gets better than this then we’re looking at a definite 10. Delicious!

Hop Dog Beerworks ‘Abbey Of The Dead’ Dubbel

Rating:

12650911_477080995809384_563414362813451226_n“Abbey of the Dead perches on a mound of skulls above a river of blood, offering up candy to the lost souls. She is sweet, and beguiling, she is dainty and beautiful, but inside she is not cotton candy and rainbows. Brewed to celebrate Halloween and the Day of the Dead festival, Abbey of the Dead is our blood red Belgian ale brewed with sugar skull candies, spiced with marigolds and dried hibiscus flowers, and a hefty backbone of big Belgian malts to tie it all together. Spicy from 2 Belgian yeast strains, you’ll get cocoa and toffee on the nose, earthy marigolds and plummy, citrusy hibiscus notes. Light in body, but big in malt – and no pumpkin.”

Served in a snifter glass. The rich mahogany appearance caps off with a well retained three finger head that persists beautifully. Rings of thick, sudsy lacing are left clinging to the glass as it ebbs. Due to years of familiarising ourselves with this brewers beer we know he has the tendancy to sour or barrel age most of them. Let’s just say it works for certain styles and potentially ruins others. The Belgian Dubbel is one not to be soured and it perilously seems that is the case here. Offering malty scents of plum, raisin, fig, chocolate and pudding, this aroma flirts with scents of cherry, blueberry, phenols and currants. Although the base aromas are here the estery yeasts are coming through a bit too excessively. The mouth feel is soft and creamy but a subtle acidity that develops reinforces what we’re saying. Co2 is medium and a mild bitterness adds a little kick but this lip puckering sourness is a little untoward. The front palate is overbearingly sour with that vinegary phenol character that is simply not welcome in a Belgian Dubbel. Tart fruits like raspberry and pomegranate come forward as a restrained dark malt undertone tries to push through across the mid. The sour acidity lingers in to the finish and rounds out a slightly disappointing Dubbel. OK, there are beer lovers out there that enjoy sour beers. We don’t mind sour beer too but we truly think that some styles just aren’t meant to brett-fermented. A Belgian Dubbel is in the don’t sour category. Plenty of better beers from these guys, we aren’t fans of this one.

Black Heart Brewery Dubbel

Rating:

imageIf there was ever anyone more trustworthy with your craft beer it would be these two blokes. Behind Black Heart brewery are two surgeons – a cardiac surgeon and the other, a perfusionist. Not only do these guys posess the skills to save lives (or pump your stomach after a tipple too many) they also have some brewing prowess, boasting a huge range including a Bohemian Pilsner, a Dunkelweizen, a Christmas ale and an Imperial Stout. Not to mention this Dubbel, which we’ll stop talking about and pop open!

Served in a beer tulip. The appearance offers a rich mahogany below a finger and a half of loosely packed tan foam. The head recedes quickly to a collar with scarce lace trails being omitted. Quite a strange aroma emanating here. The main one throwing us off is this unwelcomed scent of chlorine. Our guess is that the hops and the rich malts are clashing instead of combining, creating this ultimately muddled aroma. There are subtle hints of toffee and dates but this slightly tart/citric and almost vinegary fragrance is off putting. Disappointing. In the mouth it’s a little thin with a slightly sour feel. Mild Co2 and mild-medium body. What has been done well is the masking of the 7.4% ABV. Average all round so far. The flavour profile opens up with a kind of sour/vinegary character that is quite foreign to the traditional Dubbel. Once all the sourness settles we finally get a hint of caramel and dark malts in the finish. Even in the finish, unfortunately, we can still taste this persistent sour citrus flavour . Extremely bummed out by this Dubbel. We reviewed their Tripel a couple of months back and were surprised at how good it was. This brew, though, is confusing and far from what we like in a Dubbel. Didn’t like it at all.

Bright Brewery ‘Fainters’ Dubbel

Rating:

12091195_442772319240252_4203492128275978988_o“Beer is sacred at Bright brewery. Our Fainters Dubbel honours Belgium’s Trappist monks, who first created and savoured these rich and complex ales. Even the deep copper colour is reminiscent of Abbey stained glass. To develop the rich malt-driven aromas and complex palate accentuated with raisin and spicy clove, it is essential that we remain celibate throughout the brewing process. Monks aside, the remote high peaks of the Fainters beyond Bright inspired both the naming of this beer and our brewer, who regularly pilots his paraglider above these majestic ranges.”

This is our first entry for this Victorian brewery. We’ve had our eye on them for a while so we thought it was high time we gave them a go. Served in a snifter glass. The gorgeous mahogany pour can only manage to arouse half a finger of beige foam before it peels off and settles to a fine halo around the circumference of the glass. As expected lacing is scarce. Not all is scarce though, as our first few whiffs uncover a decadent, malty nose with scents of toffee fudge, chocolate, clove, banana, brown sugar, csramelised pear and raisins. A certain liqueur-ish complexity lends a kind of Muscaty/Porty astringency to it as well. Very nice. In the mouth its creamy texture is sharpened by a subtle alcohol burn (8.5% ABV) Co2 levels are low and the body is medium-full. Upfront a burst of sweet and luscious malts offer flavours of toffee, raisin, chocolate, banana and port. Behind it all is a firm warmth from the ABV. Although there are no variations in flavour the intensity of it all crescendo’s through the mid and rounds off to a robust malt finish with good duration. This is an honest and malleable representation of this incredibly complex style of brewing. We’re already looking forward to the next addition from this brewery.

De Brabandere ‘Petrus’ Dubbel Bruin

Rating:

12052372_438020513048766_6046935163385628114_o“Petrus Double Brown Ale is a top-fermented dark beer. Brewed with pure spring water and carefully selected hops and malts. The dark beer with its subtle and slightly caramelized flavour is preferably served cool.”

We’re liking this label, with a picture of God holding a key in one hand and a chalice in the other with the cheeky quip that reads “the key to heaven”. Obviously the almighty doesn’t mind a Belgian Dubbel now and again. Served in a beer tulip with quite an interesting appearance. Against a dark background a deep mahogany brown is offered but when held to the light a bright strawberry red hue is revealed. A modest finger of khaki foam is knocked up which retains well and releases nice, artistic patterns of lace as it ebbs. Oh wow! The aroma is delicious, we wish we could just eat it. This rich and caramelised toffee scent emanating is simply divine! Plenty of yeasty notes are coming through, bringing with it a strange, almost medicinal aroma, although it’s subtle and could easily be mistaken for the slightly phenolic cherry character. Not bad. In the mouth it’s creamy and luscious with an excellent smoothness to it. Carbonation is moderate and the body is about mild-medium. No alcohol burn at all, so the 6.5% ABV is well masked. Very sweet on the front-palate. Raisins, plum and brown sugar come to mind as an earthy fig character works to balance it out. Hints of stewed pears and candied apple appear in the mid before it descends in to sweet, chewy toffee finish. This sweet, fleshy fruit flavour reappears again on the back end displaying it’s good legs. Not bad but a little too sweet to be brilliant though. The delicious presence of cocoa and chocolate weren’t as pronounced as other top shelf Dubbels are. Tasty and very enjoyable, just not convincing enough to be great.

Brewery Ommegang ‘Abbey ale’ Dubbel

Rating:

image“Ommegang Abbey ale is directly influenced by the patience and wisdom of the Trappists, who ever seek divine union – a pretty high standard for an ale, but a good one, we think. Deep burgundy colour, rich and malty. Enjoy with savoury dishes, rich cheeses and almost every dessert.”

There is a small piece of text on this bottle which prompted us to do a bit of research. It states “part of the Duvel family of fine Belgian ales”. It is true, Ommegang is owned by Duvel Moortgat. All the more reason for this to be a standout beer. Uncaged, uncorked then served in to a beer tulip. The dark mahogany pour manages to arouse a modest finger of lightly tanned foam. The head is retained well, eventually reducing to a fine layer with a thick halo around the edges. Wet, streaky lacing is being omitted. Very rich, decadent and creamy on the nose. A moreish complexity throws up wafts of dark nutty chocolate, fruit cake, apple pie, licorice, raisin, toffee, spice and mocha. A soft stinging scent of alcohol does creep in but it’s disguised extremely well. This is one remarkable aroma. The texture of this beer is creamy with mild levels of Co2. The 8.2% ABV is hidden so well it’s almost untraceable in flavour. Definitely on the fuller bodied end of the scale. There isn’t so much a progression of flavours here, more an array of rich and heavy impressions of caramelised pears, plums, raisin, toffee, licorice and alcohol that move in and intensify as the flavours go through the motions. Excellent length too, a kind of aged red wine oakiness lingers on the back end just to make everything more complex. What an amazing beer this is. One that would go hand in hand with red meat, cheeses and a roaring fire. Phenomenal!