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Possible silly question about Belgian styles.

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by tectactoe, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. tectactoe

    tectactoe Champion (880) Michigan Mar 20, 2012

    I'm sitting here thinking about Dubbel -> Tripel -> Quad. If I understand correctly, the Dubbel and Tripel corresponds to the fact that (approx) double and triple the amount of malt are used than in a regular Belgian single (or "simple"), right?

    If that's the case, why are Tripels not just stronger, similar versions of Dubbels? They're completely different! Dubbels are usually dark brown, ruby in color, often with big plum and date flavors, while Tripels are golden-yellow and heavy on the bubble-gum, clove, banana esters, etc. BUT, then you look at a Quad, and it's basically a stronger version of the Dubbel!

    Now I know "Quad" isn't technically a style. But you can draw an analogy from the American IPA.

    IPA -> Double IPA -> Triple IPA

    Each one is basically a more hoppy version of the previous (where Triple isn't "real" but a moniker used by some brewers who hop the shit out of the beer). So why doesn't the Tripel resemble a sweeter, more alcoholic Dubbel - rather it's nearly a completely different style of beer, almost more reminiscent of a BSPA?
    BigBarley and checktherhyme like this.
  2. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp Advocate (510) Missouri Sep 14, 2011

    That's a simplistic understanding of the styles. It loosely correlates to strong, stronger, strongest. But those styles have different histories.
  3. Andygirl

    Andygirl Savant (280) Michigan Jan 3, 2013

    It doesn't make sense to me either, but I know exactly what you are saying. Especially if you just drank the 3P.
  4. tectactoe

    tectactoe Champion (880) Michigan Mar 20, 2012

    Right, I figured as much. But I'm wondering why/how (historically or otherwise) exactly the Tripel ended up as a stronger, yet completely different style rather than simply a more alcoholic version of it's predecessor, the Dubbel.
  5. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Advocate (530) Texas Nov 21, 2008

    You have it correct. Regardless of the original intent of the names they do not simply mean a bigger malt bill. Quadrupel BTW is not a traditional style its basically an imperial dubbel.
  6. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp Advocate (510) Missouri Sep 14, 2011

    Because Westmalle brewed it specifically to compete with Pale Lager, as was Duvel (BSPA). The monks developed it with Hendrik Verlinden of the Drie Linden brewers. It was originally caller "Superbier" but renamed Tripel in 1956.

    The old X, XX, XXX, XXXX don't really have anything to do with it. They are all different beers, though Dubbels, BSDA and Quads are more in the same vein than is Tripel.
  7. lookrider

    lookrider Advocate (530) Pennsylvania Apr 22, 2007 Beer Trader

    I believe that Tripels use a lighter colored malt that is also more fermentable. In addition, they use a higher percentage of simple sugars that ferment completely. That's why it's lighter bodied and drier than dubbels while still being stronger in abv. I'm sure someone else can explain it more thoroughly
    guillemiro likes this.
  8. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp Advocate (510) Missouri Sep 14, 2011

    Actually they both use Belgian pilsner malt. Dubbels use caramelized candi sugar while Tripels use straight up white sugar and slightly warmer fermentation. Tripels have a slightly higher OG which translates to 1% or so more ABV. They both have similar FG.
    Pelican5 likes this.
  9. As far as dubbels and tripels, ask Westmalle. And, quadrupels? Ask La Trappe. These breweries are the name inventors for these 'styles'.
    RochefortChris likes this.
  10. lookrider

    lookrider Advocate (530) Pennsylvania Apr 22, 2007 Beer Trader

    I knew someone could explain it better. So do Tripels just use more sugar to get the higher OG?
  11. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp Advocate (510) Missouri Sep 14, 2011

    Up to 20% sugar for Tripels. Probably less for Dubbels. But I am not a brewer. Just regurgitating what I memorized for Certified Cicerone test. Probably got the info from a variety of sources including BJCP and Oxford beer companion.
  12. Errto

    Errto Savant (325) Connecticut Oct 20, 2009

    No no, none of this "truth" stuff. Didn't you know the Trappist beers have been brewed in exactly the same way since the 1400s???
  13. It's really just a very simple numbering system that shows ABV goes up the higher the number. The names have no particular historical significance in the same sense as the English X system. It's all just marketing, don't over think it.
  14. I hear ya. The first few "Belgians" I had tasted so much like Hefe's I just couldn't stand em (something about German Hefe's I just can't drink). I thought I didn't like "Belgians". Then I had a Rochefort 10 somewhat recently and BAM, world turned upside down. So good, complex, and no "hefe".

    I take it from this thread I should be trying more dubbels and quads and no tripels?
  15. PortLargo

    PortLargo Advocate (550) Florida Oct 19, 2012

    Not necessarily.

    I do not notice a "hefe" taste in most tripels, rather a complex set of spices. The dubbels and quads will normally be sweeter than a tripel and be less spiced. In my opinion each of these styles have a time and place where they can be enjoyable. Plus the Belgians are finally getting on the IPA bandwagon. La Chouffe makes a Tripel/IPA that can take on Dogfish or Stone for hopiness.
  16. Pretty much all yeast throw out isoamyl acetate, which is what creates the banana flavor in beer. Some Belgian strains and all the weizen strains throw out enough to make a clear banana flavor present. In Belgian strains it's usually appearing with other fruit flavors to make it less obvious than a weizen strain. It's there in dark Belgian beers but you're less likely to spot it in a beer with that much specialty malt and/or dark candy syrup.
  17. OneDropSoup

    OneDropSoup Champion (780) Pennsylvania Dec 9, 2008 Subscriber

    I'd started a thread on this a while ago that's since been lost, but I remember hearing Steven Pauwels from Boulevard basically said that a marketing company suggested to Abbaye de la Trappe that they brew a Quadrupel.
  18. Belgian and German Wheat beer yeasts are also known for the phenolics, which include clove for the German and peppery notes for the Belgian yeasts.
  20. patto1ro

    patto1ro Advocate (620) Netherlands Apr 26, 2004 Subscriber

    I'd be interested to know what you think the particular significance of X, XX, XXX, etc is.
    LMT likes this.
  21. The best explantions for this stuff are in Michael Jackson's 'The Great Beers of Belgium'. Depending on which Trappist Brewery you happen to be drinking at the time... Westmalle was the one that 'created' the contemporary Tripel using all pale malt and dextrose. Rochefort all three beers are dark, Chimay has a pale beer now and it is a more recent addition(10-12 years?). Orval makes just one beer in two strengths.

    The plot thickens when you add Abbey breweries vs Trappist... Then it just becomes a matter of whatever you want to call it...ship it to the USA and they'll buy anything...
    LambicPentameter likes this.
  22. travisdiener32

    travisdiener32 Savant (355) Florida Mar 31, 2009 Beer Trader

    I went through an intensive beer school training, 2 weeks, 40 hours each week going over styles, abv, traditional brewing for world of beer. It was explained to me that dubbels and quads use brown sugar while tripels use light candy sugar but are otherwise very similar ingredient wise aside from more or less malts etc. for dubbels and quads.
  23. ThirstyFace

    ThirstyFace Initiate (0) New York Jan 11, 2013

    They should jump off that bandwagon and stay pure.
  24. Mostly right, but the dark sugars are from refined white sugar being heated repeatedly and inverted and caramelized. Brown sugar as we know it is white sugar with some molasses added back.