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Beer Town: Belgian Beer

Beer Town: Belgian Beer

Dubbels, Trippels, and Quadruppels


As promised in my New Beer’s Resolutions column, I’ve embarked on a quest to conquer my resistance

to the Belgian ale styles. The fact is, there’s enough ignorance and xenophobia going on in the world

without my contributing to it, especially when it comes to one of the pillars of beer culture. Just because

a beer style is foreign is no reason to dismiss it.

So, this week I’m beginning a series examining the Belgian styles, so that if you, like me, aren’t sure

what you’re getting into when you drop by Monk’s Corner or Duel, you can study up beforehand.

Abbey ales

The unique characteristics of modern Belgian styles owe their inception to the Catholic Church, which

allowed abbeys to brew beer for fundraising purposes starting in the 12th century.

Over the intervening years, Trappist monasteries emerged as the most famous of the Belgian brewing

abbeys, and today enjoy a great deal of prestige. There’s only one authentic Trappist ale producer in the

U.S. and it ain’t in New Mexico, so we Albuquerque residents must instead be satisfied with locally

concocted “Abbey ales.”

Abbey ales are brewed in the style of Trappist ales, but lack the official certification by the

International Trappist Association (which requires that the beer be brewed within a Trappist monastery,

among other qualifications). They may or may not be associated with a non-Trappist monastery.

Locally, Monk’s Ale is affiliated with Christ in the Desert Monastery near Abiquiú, though the beer is

brewed at a facility in Moriarty.

Duel, on the other hand, is entirely secular and, thus, the word “abbey” doesn’t appear in any of their


Dubbels, trippels and quadrupels are the most commonly encountered abbey ales. Dubbel is Dutch for

“double,” and I bet you can figure out the others from there.

What exactly is being doubled, tripled and quadrupled? Why singles of course, although you’re not

likely to find one of those in an American brewery. Singles are “small beers” with low alcohol content

and thus never very popular in the consumer market.

Dubbels are a brown ale with an ABV in the 6-8% range. Beet sugar, often used in Belgian ales, is

caramelized for this style, imparting both color and a raisiny flavor.

Quadruples are pretty much just doubled up dubbels – we’re talking ABV that goes into barley wine

territory (around 12%). They’re also called Belgian strong dark ales.

Trippels are a bit different in that they don’t typically caramelize the beet sugars, resulting in a more

cidery flavor, a golden color and a higher ABV than the dubbel.


Find the ale for you at these taprooms:

Duel Brewing Co., 606 Central Ave. SW

Monk’s Corner Taproom, 205 Silver St. SW

Dialogue Brewing, 1501 1st St. NW

All three specialize in Belgian styles and typically offer one or more of the abbey ales.


In the next article, we’ll tackle the farmhouse ales and then, the infamous sours.

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Ty Bannerman is a beer drinker, co-host of the City on the Edge podcast and author of “Forgotten Albuquerque,” as well as a forthcoming memoir.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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