Bad Doubles: double entendre, double agent, double cross, double standard, double bogey, double dare, double whammy, double trouble, double jeapordy, seeing double, double talk, double edged sword…
Good Doubles: double scoop, double your pleasure, double take, double date, double team (think sports, people… sports), double up, double feature, on the double, double bass (any drummers out there?), double IPA, and of course, the Belgian Dubbel!
The Dubbel is a beer style which originated in the mid-19th century by the Westmalle Trappist abbey. The idea was to create a brown ale that had considerably more depth and strength than their standard “table beer”. Here’s some additional detail you can check out from the abbey.
Below is the Gateway Beers profile of the typical characteristics you can expect to find in a Dubbel (on a 1-5 bar scale):
Here’s a nice formal description from the Beer Judge Certification Program’s most recent style guide:
Appearance: Dark amber to copper in color, with an attractive reddish depth of color. Generally clear. Large, dense, and long-lasting creamy off-white head.
Aroma: Complex, rich malty sweetness; malt may have hints of chocolate, caramel and/or toast (but never roasted or burnt aromas). Moderate fruity esters (usually including raisins and plums, sometimes also dried cherries). Esters sometimes include banana or apple. Spicy phenols and higher alcohols are common (may include light clove and spice, peppery, rose-like and/or perfumy notes). Spicy qualities can be moderate to very low. Alcohol, if present, is soft and never hot or solventy. A small number of examples may include a low noble hop aroma, but hops are usually absent. No diacetyl.
Flavor: Similar qualities as aroma. Rich, complex medium to medium-full malty sweetness on the palate yet finishes moderately dry. Complex malt, ester, alcohol and phenol interplay (raisiny flavors are common; dried fruit flavors are welcome; clove-like spiciness is optional). Balance is always toward the malt. Medium-low bitterness that doesn’t persist into the finish. Low noble hop flavor is optional and not usually present. No diacetyl. Should not be as malty as a bock and should not have crystal malt-type sweetness. No spices.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium-high carbonation, which can influence the perception of body. Low alcohol warmth. Smooth, never hot or solventy.
For appetizer pairings, go with cheeses in the brie, cheddar, and parmigiano-reggiano families, and balance them with some apple slices.
For dessert, go with a rich or dark-chocolate-based dessert, or just enjoy a fat chalice of a good dubbel all on its own.
Serving and Glassware
The Dubbel’s flavors are tastiest when started in the 45-50 degree range, and warming through the 50’s. Try to serve it up in a wide-mouth gobblet/chalice, or at least an oversized wine glass.
What to Buy
There are over 40 varieties of Dubbels that you can find here in Eastern PA, with the following 3 being both well-rated and readily available at your better take-out restaurants and distributors in the area.
– Westmalle Trappist Dubbel, 7% ABV (Malle, Belgium)
– Chimay Premier (Red), 7% ABV (Baileux, Belgium)
– Ommegang Abbey Ale, 8.5% ABV (Cooperstown, NY)