BELGIAN SIPPING ALES

Tripel (or Triple)

The name of this light golden, spicy-edged, malty, stronger (7.5-9.5% ABV) style of ale was not cited until the 1930s, but unlike Dubbel (Double), which has equivalents across much of Europe, is firmly Belgian in origin. The best are conditioned in the bottle and even the most highly revered have their body thinned by adding sugar to the mash.  Substitution of 15% of malt by sugar can be absorbed without ill effects.   The style is credited to Henri Verlinden, a brewer who assisted the Trappist brewers of Westmalle.  He began introducing Pilsner malt into the production of strong ale, Westmalle Tripel eventually becoming the first established beer of the new style. 

Strong Golden

Strong Golden ale usually sports an innocent-looking pale blond colour, but is more highly attenuated, effervescent and subtly complex.  The best examples feature floral hops and are bottle-conditioned.  The strength (7.5-10.5% ABV) is often deceptive.  The difference between beers in the Strong Golden and Tripel (Triple) styles extends to the habit of applying unholy names like Duvel (devil), Lucifer or Judas to the former and saintly names to the latter. 

Belgian Strong Dark (or Quadrupel)

The thumbprint of this impressive style (8.0-12.0% ABV) is huge complexity built of malty richness, dark fruit flavours, spicy edges but little obvious hopping.  Despite their weight, the best of these are dangerously drinkable.  Brewers in Belgium have made strong dark ales for centuries but by 1980, the most celebrated were associated with the Trappist breweries of Chimay, Rochefort and Westvleteren.  The term Quadrupel was taken from the brand name used by Koningshoeven abbey in the Netherlands for a beer first made in 1991. 

> The beer styles of Europe and beyond > SIPPING STRENGTH ALES > BELGIAN SIPPING ALES


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