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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A closer look at dubbels.

We dive into the world of dubbels tonight as we continue our condensed and abbreviated Belgian beer month. So to start out, what is a dubbel? Unlike some Belgian styles this one can be fairly well defined, it is a stronger brown ale, and like the tripel it really came into its own under Westmalle. It fast became popular and other Belgian brewers were quick to copy and produce their own versions. It doesn't derive its color from the malts though instead through a carmelized syrup called candi sugar. Most of these will come in around 6.5% to 8% ABV. 

Our classic candidate is Maredsous 8º Brune. It poured a clear amberish brown color with a rich tan head that slowly dissipated leaving lacy remnants on the sides of the glass. It had a great smell to it on the pour. It is lighter than expected with a richer caramelly taste that coats the mouth eventually giving way to a mild raisin like aftertaste. It is a sweet, fruity beer but far from cloying, instead being light and crisp on the tongue with good carbonation. Decently hopped but well balanced with the rest of the beer.You would be hard pressed to find the alcohol in this though it is definitely there coming in at a respectable 8% ABV. It is best to let this beer warm up a little bit so its character comes out more. This is a very drinkable beer and would work well to introduce people to the joys of brown ales. I recommend this. 

Here is the party line on Maredsous 8º Brune.
The brown beer was originally only brewed for Christmas, but over the centuries it became a force to reckon with. Maredsous Brune (ALC . 8%) has a creamy foaming, dark, burgundy color, is easily recognizable by its expressive aroma bouquet. A generous caramel bouquet is completed with masterly fruit touches.) 
Want another take on it? Check out this write up.

Our nouveau candidate is Brother David's Double by Anderson Valley Brewing Company.This beer introduces itself first by smell, it exploded with an aroma of caramel and fruit. It poured a darker brown with little head that quickly disappeared. This is a sweeter beer than the Brune with less caramel taste and more fruitiness in the drink. Both the carbonation and the hops take a backseat to the sweetness and the fruitiness of this beer. It is bigger bodied than the Maredsous but surprisingly lifts of the palette rather quickly. In the alchohol department it is no slouch coming in at a robust 9% ABV which is more on the extreme side for this style of beer. 

Overall this is a good beer but I wouldn't toss it to a beginner. It makes no bones about its willingness to stretch the definition of a dubbel and that is part of the fault I find in it. It needs a bit more subtlety. It has a lot of things going for it, but it needs some restraint. 

Here is the party line (taken off the side of the bottle) on Brother David's Double.
Brother David's Double Abbey Style Ale is brewed in a a cloistered nook of remote Anderson Valley and may be the closest you'll ever get to Heaven on earth. This hand-crafted beer, made in very limited quantity, is malty, tangy, a little wild. It is sure to raise your spirits. The brewers of Anderson Valley have sacrificed and suffered to brew this enormously complex beer, so you can enjoy it completely guilt free. Because man cannot live on bread alone.
Want another take on Brother David's Double? Then go read this review.  

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