One of the best ways to study is beer, is to go by country. Breaking up beer into categories to makes it easier to study. One of the ways I like to see beer broken up is by country. Studying one of the three traditional European brewing traditions, British, German, and Belgian breaks beer down to digestible bites.
I have rotated my explorations between these three traditions over the years. Yet, the most interesting and most vexing is the Belgian style. The reason for that is the Belgian styles are usually not governed by guidelines. They are general attributes of a beer family. Then there is the Dubbel.
The Dubbel is one of the few beer styles that has a definitive origin story. It was created in the mid-19th century at the Trappist Westmalle Brewery as a brown ale. Then tweaked just after World War I to become the somewhat sweet, dark, high ABV beer we know today.
As I said, the Dubbel is one of the few Belgian styles that have an actual style definition. Dubbels are dark copper with a malty sweet, slightly dry, strong beer with dark fruit esters. Most descriptions of Belgian styles are like this one for witbier in the 2015 BJCP guidelines: “Overall Impression: A refreshing, elegant, tasty, moderate strength wheat-based ale.” That tells you nothing.
American brewers are famous for fluctuating between devotion to the traditional style and pushing the edges to find something new. The Double Barley Double Dubbel is a beer that seeks to celebrate the original Belgian Dubbel.
The Double pours a dark coppery color with a thin quickly dissipating head. It has the aroma of sweet white bread with little hop presence. You get a lot of dark cherry and dark fruit esters that kind dominate the malt aroma.
For a beer that checks in at 8.8% ABV, the alcohol taste is rather mild. There is a slight herbal, earthy hop taste. There is a nice sweetness from the malty white bread sweetness. It also gets the sweetness from the candi sugar providing a dark cherry, pruny taste. It has a slight carbonation and has a dry medium length finish.
This is a well-made representation of the Belgian Dubbel style. I prefer my Dubbels to have a little more sweetness at the front to balance out the dry finish. If you’ve never had a Dubbel before this is a good beer to make your first because it is such a good version of the style.