by Tyler Turek
Belgian ales — rich, dry, spicy and moderately boozy. The Belgian Dubbel is the middle child of this diverse beer style family. Heartier than a typical regional ale but lighter than the Belgian Tripel, the Dubbel packs massive flavour into a tulip glass.
The Belgian Dubbel is a robust, malty beer with some spicy phenols. Alcohol ranges from 6.5 to 8% ABV and bitterness is quite low. There is less fruitiness compared to other Belgian brews but some prune and raisin notes may be present. As with most Belgian beers, distinct yeast strains particular to each brewery leave their imprint on the final product.
Typically, it is brewed with Candi sugar — a liquid, highly-fermentable adjunct that increases alcohol without much residual sweetness. Candi sugar also imparts honey and toffee-like notes and defines the brew’s colour. Not to be confused with adjuncts like rice and corn that decrease a beer’s flavour.
While Belgium is known for its ancient Trappist beer recipes, the Dubbel is relatively modern. Created at Westmalle in 1926 by Henrik Verlinden, it is now a global beer style that has inspired craft brewers in Europe and the Americas.
However, the style does seem more popular among American craft brewers and their French Canadian counterparts than Ontario brewers. Northwinds Brewing in Collingwood produces Dubbel Diamond Belgian Ale and our friends at Block 3 Brewing have created a few seasonal varieties. Unlike Saison-style beers which are widely available, locally-made Dubbels are more elusive.
The Belgian Dubbel is perfect on its own. But it also goes well with traditional Belgian fare — cheese, BBQ ribs, and seared scallops. Your choice!