Tag Archive: Dubbel


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.

Wild Beer Co: Smoke and Barrels 2018: Islay Whisky (England: Smoked Dubbel: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Opaque. Small bubbled carbonation. Caramel head with dark brown troughs in it.

Nose: Liquorice. Gin. Gooseberries. Sour plums. Medicinal meets broth. Tart black cherries.

Body: Tart. Liquorice. Bready. Iodine. Sour black cherries. Tannins and teabags. Gin and juniper. Medicinal and salt.

Finish: Medicinal. Sour red grapes. Teabags. Woody. Peppery. Tannins. Tart raisins. Smoke and dust.

Conclusion: Well, even having had the un-aged version of this, I was not expecting this to be as tart as it was. With it being a Dubbel at the base, and Islay barrel aged I was expecting a lot of big things, but not something this mouth refreshing.

The aroma didn’t really give it away – it has tart hints but that meets a brothy and medicinal character from the time in Islay oak that gives thicker and meatier imagery. So, when I took a sip and got a sour Flemish bruin meets dubbel kick it was kind of a shock.

It is all about the dark fruit, sourly delivered – backed by medical Islay character that makes the mouth sparkle. The oddest large element is the tarter notes that feel very gin influenced with sloe and juniper floating around there.

Now I will admit that for the first few sips I was not a fan – I was expecting something closer to the 2017 version, something tart but still recognisable as a dubbel, just with enhancements from the special ingredients. Instead I find something utterly dominated by them.

So, I decide to take my time and try and work out how to describe it- imagine a dubbel mixed up with a gin, a rodenbach grand cry and a shot of Caol Ila and … well you roughly have this. It is heavy duty with sour, medicinal and tannin notes all mixing. It is a bit prickly edged as beers go and feels like it needs a more solid core for the notes to work around. While the fruit character is dark and sour it isn’t in a thick way that gives a solid core to work from. It does gain a bit by the end though, resulting in a smokey, full flavoured, sour dark fruit beer – which if not perfectly delivered is bloody intriguing.

So, unusual, prickly edged and tart- no polish, all experimental. Intriguing, smokey and pretty tasting – but needs a bigger body to make it all work. Good but not a must have.

Background: From a quick look around I think this is the same beer, or at least a very similar beer to the one that Wild Beer Co released as the Winter 2017 Smoke and Barrels. What makes this different is it has spent the intervening time in Islay barrels ageing. Which is pretty much why I grabbed it. I love a good Islay whisky. So, to go over it again, this is a dubbel brewed with smoked malt, infused with cherry and chestnut wood and made with sloes smoked with liquorice. Which is a thing apparently. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – I was expecting something big and slow to drink (no sloe puns please) so put on the excellent moody tunes of Godspeed you! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! To listen to. Utterly awesome experimental tunes that make great drinking music.

Wild Beer Co: Smoke ‘n’ Barrels: Winter (England: Smoked Dubbel: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin dark brown dash of a head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Sulphur and eggs. Lightly acidic. Bready. Malt chocolate. Smoke. Brown sugar. Creamy banana. Slightly dry.

Body: Sherbety feel up front into smoother back. Smoked meats. Brown sugar. Banana notes. Malt drinks. Slight chalk. Light tart grapes. Blackpool rock. Slight chocolate. Slight liquorice. Slight dry vinous influence.

Finish: Caramel. Smoked bacon. Hints of black cherry. Brown sugar. Light liquorice. Slight cherry pocked biscuits.

Conclusion: I came to this with a mix of nervousness and anticipation. Anticipation as Wild Beer Co’s Smoke beers have been improving with every release – and, better still, dark beers tend to carry smoke better in my experience. However there was nervousness as well – Liquorice seemed to be mentioned quite prominently in the description, and too much liquorice can really hurt a beer for me.

Thankfully the liquorice influence here is a small backing and rounding note. Instead this gives us something soothing, in a similar fashion to the chocolate and brown sugar touched Belgian dubbels but with a drier, slightly vinous base. This then has just a touch of Flemish bruin style being added to the mix. It results in an interesting mouthfeel and subtle cherry and tart grapes roundings to a very solid base.

The smoke, coming in as a sulphur to smoked bacon character is again a rounding note – giving extra weight and body to the beer. It is evident, but does not dominate. It feels a very balanced beer, all things considered. It even brings some banana and other fruity Belgian ester notes into the mix giving a lighter touch dusted over.

Probably could do with a touch of ageing – it can feel a tad chalky and fizzy at the moment, though that does settle to a smoother feel if held on the tongue for a moment. Any which way, could be polished with a few years I feel.

As it is it is a solid Dubbel, with lots of little tricks that make it atypical. Not an instant classic, but good, and I think it may have room to grow.

Background: I got an automated phone call today it said “With it being winter it is the perfect time to”. I have no idea what it said next. I hung up. Mainly because fuck automated phone calls, but also because it is Spring. If they get literally their first point wrong, why should I trust anything else they say? Anyway, this is a roundabout way of saying I finally got around to drinking the winter edition of Wild Beer Co’s smoked beers. I may have taken a while. It was a high abv dark beer, it was hardly like it was going to go off. Anyway this is *Deep breath time again* a Dubbel style beer, but with smoked malt, aged on liquorice smoked tart sloes in foudres that previously held red wine. This had been grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Bikini Kill. Only found out about them recently – angry and awesome music.

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