The Civil Life just released its second Belgian Ale, a dubbel. Although this is the first time we brought a Belgian yeast strain into the brewery, and Belgian ales seem stylistically different from our mainstays, the abbey style dubbel is not that much of a departure. The dubbel is a type of brown ale (needless to say, the Civil Life is on firm ground here).
It’s a relatively recent style. Dubbels were first brewed in the mid-nineteenth century by Trappist monks at the Westmalle Abbey, but it wasn’t until 1926 when the abbey’s brewer, Henrik Verlinden, reformulated the recipe, that the dubbel as we know it today was perfected.
Unlike most brown ales, which are given their color from roasted malts imparting characteristic flavors of coffee or chocolate, dubbels get their brownish color from candi sugar, a deeply caramelized sugar syrup. Characteristic flavors from candi sugar include dried fruit, like raisins and figs, as well as burnt sugar or crème brulee notes.
The classic Belgian yeast strains impart herbal, fruity, and spicy notes. We followed Belgian tradition by fermenting our dubbel at higher temperatures, which intensifies those spicy and fruity notes. Belgian dubbel ales are typically dark and dry and relatively high in alcohol (6-ish to 8-ish percent) but don’t taste especially alcoholic.
Our Belgian Dubbel, at 6% alcohol, is somewhat lighter in color than is typical, but rich in taste, with some plum-like fruit and light caramel, and a delightfully spicy finish. It’s balanced, smooth, and exceptionally drinkable.
The origin of the name dubbel is not entirely clear, though nowadays terms like dubbel, tripel, and quadrupel (this last apparently an American invention) give a rough idea of alcoholic strength.
We could learn a thing or two from the Trappist monks who still brew these outstanding beers. The spiritual life they cultivate, marked by hard work and quiet meditation, is not impeded by drinking finely crafted ales, but enhanced by it. At the Civil Life, we are proud to brew within the honorable traditions they helped to create.
-Dr. Patrick Hurley, Resident Barman and Civility Expert Extraordinaire
Hello earthlings. I have been sent here to open a brewery. I hope you have time over the next year to check in from time to time and see our progress (or lack there of at times).
Morning beer delivery at Tynan’s Bridge House Bar in Kilkenny, Ireland.