Belgium is rightly famed throughout the world for its beer culture, earning a place on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Its many styles are often delicately spiced and cover all strength and varieties.
Belgian blond ales are a fairly recent development, starting to arrive in the early 1990s. They tend to be around 5.5-7.0% ABV, their character varying from intensely spicy to balanced and delicate. Most are enhanced by refermentation in the bottle. Ironically perhaps, they post-date the so-called ‘Belgian-style’ beers that American home brewers had started making by the 1980s, aping the spicy nature of some Belgian beers that were being imported, and dependent for their spicy flavour on specific yeast strains. While neither style has much historical authenticity an interesting cross-pollination has occurred over time, with many Belgian brewers now using the same yeast strains to replace direct spicing of their beers.
Dubbel (or Double)
Expect rich malty flavours, a bit of fruitiness and/or chocolate, caramel and a few well-behaved phenols in this brown beer (6.3-7.5% ABV) that is best enjoyed in bottle-conditioned format. The term implies that double the malt is used in the mash, though 50% extra is more realistic. The style resonates with beers from other parts of Europe, such as British Double Brown and Italian ‘doppio malto’ beers.