Differences between Dubbel, Tripel & Quadrupel beer
Dubbel? Tripel? Quadrupel?
Don't belgians have enough by having over 1600 different beers to confuse and marvel us? What are those denominations we constantly hear the moment we step foot in this lovely country?
There's a lot of folktales around the specific origin of such terms with not much agreement. Some say it's due to being double, triple or quadruple fermentation, some argue they take the name from the amount of malt of the previous type (for example, a triple having three times as much malt). Despite these and other theories, the widely accepted explanation appeals to the relative strength of the beer in question.
Dubbel beers tend to be between 5.5% and 7.5%. It is a style that originated in the Westmalle abbey, near Antwerp. You can expect these beers to have a dark, coffee color due to the addition of candi sugar in their elaboration, as well as a strongish, toasty finish.
Tripels work in the 7.5% to 9.5% range, flaunting a glowing golden color coming from Pilsner malts. Slightly hoppier than dubbels, they must be served chiller than them too.
The origin of the term Quadrupel doesn't come from Belgium, but the Netherlands. De Koningshoeven trappist abbey baptized one of their beers as "La Trappe Quadrupel" and the name stuck. The real name for the style however is "Belgian Dark Strong Ale". They generally encompass all beers over 9.5% and include a wide spectrum of flavors, being most common the bready and spicy type, although most of them share an amber color.
Enjoy your beers, and have fun!