Hey everyone. I’m in the mood for a beer. I want a big, strong, flavorful beer to match these cool nights we’ve been having as Winter begins to tighten its grip. The one style that keeps popping in my head is the Belgian Quadruple. It’s been a while since I last had one and I don’t know why because it’s always been one of my favorites. It’s an old world style that’s bold, complex, versatile and basically a meal in a bottle.
When I think of the Belgian Quad four brews come to mind immediately. The St. Bernardus Abt. 12, the Westvleteren XII, the Rochefort 10, and the De Struise Pannepot Reserva. For me, I measure all of the other Strong Dark Ales produced against these. Now, deciding which is the best is a matter of opinion for sure, however I don’t think a person could go wrong with any of ’em. That may not be fair and I’m sure many craft beer aficionados can point to others that may even be better, but for my money these four are the cream of the crop.
With most breweries spinning their recipes off the Trappiste Monks original concoctions (although some Trappiste variations have been produced to satisfy current drinking trends) I find that these four remain the most consistent and true to style.
I love the look of the Quad when sitting in a chalice. The dark brown, burgundy color with the light tan, creamy, smooth and soft head evokes thoughts of a libation that needs to be respected, pondered over, and not rushed. I also like how sometimes a trace of clear alcohol can even be seen clinging to the glass of the vessel when tilted from side to side. Truly a remarkable looking beverage in my opinion.
Customarily, when I shove my nose in a glass of this liquid I get those aromas of boozed soaked dark fruits. Tones of fig, dates and raisin matched with that unmistakable Belgian yeast. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Granted, with these four particular beers a substantial amount of alcohol is usually detected (depending on the age of course), but as the beer warms and some of the subtleties of spice and candied sugar arise I foolishly forget what lies ahead for me in terms of potency of intoxicants.
Turning up a glass and letting the liquid molest my lips and palate I’m immediately transported to some Belgian countryside. The rich, sweet and sticky fruits matched with the yeasty, bready component is nothing less than nirvana. I love sipping these brews and letting them develop over the course of an evening. Furthermore, I have zero problem consuming at room temperature. In fact, I believe they are at their best when a bit warmer. It seems as though the “clovey” spice is more upfront in that regard.
The mouthfeel is nothing short of amazing either. Usually they are very creamy and smooth with a bit of dryness on the back end. Not only that, but in most cases enough flavor is left behind after each swallow for enjoyment until the next gulp is had. I like that aspect because I don’t have to rush through it or hurry my next sip.
The only real downside that I see when having a beer of this caliber is the fact that I can usually only have one or two. The combination of the high ABV and the prominent character doesn’t lead to a very high drinkability for me and because of that I don’t imbibe in Quads all that often. Either way, they are thoroughly enjoyed, respected and pondered when I do get my hands on one. Needless to say, I always have a bottle of a stashed away for that moment when the craving hits.
What about you guys? Is the Belgian Quadruple a style that peaks your interest? If so, what’s your favorite?
Leave a comment and tell me all about it.
Thanks for checking in everyone. I really appreciate it. Until next time.
Photos courtesy of:
Westvleteren XII: http://www.deredactie.be
Rochefort 10: http:/www.frenchtoastsunday.com
St. Bernardus: http://www.protersteken.se