La Trappe: Dubbel Special Edition 2018 (Netherlands: Dubbel: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown. Good sized frothy beige head.

Nose: Orange zest. Peppery. Malt chocolate. Crushed lemon drops. Yeast funk touch. Lightly nutty.

Body: Peppery. Palma violets. Vanilla. Tobacco. Malt chocolate. Yeast touch. Slight resin and hop oils. Orange zest. Lemon drops.

Finish: Tobacco. Milky chocolate. Praline. Nuts. Yeastie. Peppery. Slight orange skin. Lemon drops.

Conclusion: Ok, I need to do an admission up front. It has been bloody ages since I last tried La Trappe’s standard dubbel, so I can’t really compare this to that. Sorry. I’m just going to have to treat it as a beer in itself. Hope that is ok.

This feels like a, comparatively, gentle dubbel for the style. There is malt chocolate, but not the full on brown sugar, chocolate liqueur, or the rough gem edges that you see in some expressions. What stands out instead is a peppery, slightly oily and resinous hop character, along with a decent yeast funk that makes this feel akin to a dubbel mixed 50/50 with an orval.

That is the main flavour hit for a while – a slightly more hop influenced, orval like, dubbel. Late on though the flavours twist to show new facets – orange zest and lemon drops come out giving a slightly hard sweet citrus style as a gentle additional character.

This, above and beyond everything before it, makes it interesting. The more gentle dubbel character now means that these lighter notes have room to roam.

It feels like a more new wave hopped orval, albeit not as awesome as you are now imagining from that description. It is quite easy drinking, especially considering the abv – the subtle hop bitterness helps encourage further drinking.

It is never super exciting but it is interesting – wearing the light hop flavours, yeast character and light dubbel notes pretty well. At a lower abv this would be a session god of a beer. As is, it is worth trying, but probably not one I will return to often.

Background: La Trappe. Probably my least visited of the Trappist beers (well of the ones I have tried – there are a few new ones I still need to dive into), but this one caught my eye. A variant of their standard dubbel, this one is made with an experimental hop variety, which they say gives a spicy aroma and floral character. Or at least that is what google translate tells me they said. Take with a pinch of salt. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit, had in the cupboard since tail end 2018 – decided to break it open now. I went again with the haunting electronica of Marie Davidson as background music.