The Session #2: Day of the Dubbels

The SessionI wanted to subtitle today’s Dubbels Session, "Dubbel Dubbel Toil and Trouble," but out of respect for Alan‘s running the show this month I abandoned my Bardly-themed title and went with his title. Mine was probably too nerdy, anyway.

Dubbels are somewhat under-represented in my beer repertoire, so when I was at the store I decided to do a (wait for it…) double tasting (har) and picked up two: New Belgium Abbey and St. Bernardus Prior 8.

(When is San Diego I looked for a locally-brewed Dubbel but had no luck; Stan had informed me that The Lost Abbey brews one but sadly I never made it up there to try it out. Next time!)

Some references for the style: BeerAdvocate, Wikipedia. Let’s get to my tasting notes.

New Belgium Abbey

New Belgium Abbey Belgian Style AleAppearance: Nice clear brown with red tints. Thick big dense off-white head, slow to break.

Smell: A hint of fruit, lots of sweet candy sugar, some gamey aromas that remind me of a farmhouse ale. Sour cherries or currants.

Taste: Sugary-sweet (not cloyingly saccharine, though), a bit of brown sugar, honey-ish, biscuit malt, a bit of alcohol warmth. Some plummy fruit, maybe some under-ripe cherry. Wet cut grass. More complex than I would have guessed. Herbal, almost.

Mouthfeel: Nice and chewy without being overly thick; still a nice lightness from the carbonation.

Overall: As I said, this was more complex than I would have guessed, and I was pleasantly surprised. Enjoyable. New Belgium’s page suggests this pairs well with dessert, and I’d believe that.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores 88 out of 100 with 99% approval. On RateBeer, it scores 3.7 out of 5 and is in their 93rd percentile.

St. Bernardus Prior 8

St. Bernardus Prior 8Appearance: Chestnut brown with deep amber red when held up to the light. A tad murky. Beige head is big and thick, though not quite as big as the New Belgium.

Smell: Malty and sweet, but less of a candy sugar sweet and more of a honey sweet. A bit of fruit… musty grape. Raisin? Spicy and herbal.

Taste: Belgian all the way. Candy, alcohol, musty dark berry, herby, some spices, some peppercorn, raisins, figs. Very nice, very complex.

Mouthfeel: Nice thick yet medium body—not as chewy as the New Belgium but not as light in the carbonation either. Feels like a nice sipping beer.

Overall: Though a bit higher in alcohol than the New Belgium, this one is both mellower and more complex at the same time. More subtle, and very drinkable.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores 90 out of 100, with 99% approval. In fact, it’s the #3 beer in their Top Dubbels list. On RateBeer, it scores 3.88 out of 5 and is in their 97th percentile—high-scoring there as well.