So you’ve probably heard the beer styles Dubbel, Tripel, and Quad mentioned many times before, but could you tell the difference between the three at a taste test?
In this article, we’re breaking down the qualities of Dubbels, Tripels, and Quads and the differences between the three. Though all three styles originated in Belgium, each beer style features distinct flavors, a unique color, and different ABV and IBU ranges.
A common misconception regarding Dubbels, Tripels, and Quads is that the name represents the number of times they’ve been fermented. However, for those familiar with brewing, it’s easy to recognize that this particular theory makes absolutely no sense.
While there isn’t a definitive theory as to how these styles got their name, it is commonly believed that the Dubbel, Tripel, and Quad names represent the alcoholic content of the ale. Belgian brewers used an “X” to identify the strength of the beer they were brewing, and as more alcoholic versions were made, brewers started to use “XX,” “XXX,” and so on to identify their beer.
Today, these style names are used mainly as marketing words, where the “Dubbel” is a particularly dark beer with a 6-7.5% ABV, the Tripel is a pale gold beer with higher ABV (7-10%), and the Quad is typically a dark amber that can range up to 11% ABV. For more characteristics of the Dubbel, Tripel, and Quad styles, check out our breakdown below.
On first glance, Belgian-style Dubbels can be identified by their dark brown color. This beer style features sweet malts, and often has aromas and flavors with notes of chocolate and caramel. Fruity esters are also common in Dubbels.
With a range of 20-30 IBU, Dubbels typically have a medium-low hop bitterness to them. Dubbels range from 6 to 7.5% ABV, which is lower than Tripels and Quads on average.
Frankenmuth’s Take: Abbey Maria, Ground Rule Dubbel
Tripels range from pale gold to light amber in color and are often recognized as the most famous of all Belgian-style ales. This beer style often features complex yeast-driven flavors and a noticeably spicy aroma and flavor. Fruit or clove-like flavors may also be present.
Tripels measure in on the high side of the ABV scale, with a range from 7-10%. Tripels range in IBU from 20-45, though the hop aroma and flavor is not particularly prevalent.
Frankenmuth’s Take: Tripel Vision
Quads are the most alcoholic of these three styles and are recognized by their dark amber or brown color. Quads are dominated by flavors of caramel, sugar, and sweet malts, and often have complex, fruity aromas.
At 7.2-11.2% ABV, Quads are typically some of the most alcoholic beers you will find, and the high alcohol presence is quite noticeable to the taste. Ranging from 25-50 IBU, a medium hop bitterness can be perceived, though hop aroma and flavor are not particularly strong.
Frankenmuth’s Take: Stay tuned in 2016 to find out!
Looking to get a taste of Dubbels, Tripels, and Quads without paying for a costly trip to Belgium? Stop by the Frankenmuth Brewery for a flight of Belgian-inspired ales, and with a new Quad release on its way in 2016, you can get a taste of all three styles and become a Belgian beer expert before you know it!
Frankenmuth Brewery’s Dubbels and Tripel are brewed in emulation of authentic Belgian Trappist and Abbey Ales, so stop by for a taste of Belgium-inspired beer with a hint of Michigan influence. As always, be sure to let us know what you think of our Ground Rule Dubbel, Abbey Maria, and Tripel Vision on Untappd!