Style: Belgian Dubbel
Beer should be yellow to medium-range gold with good clarity and spritzy carbonation. A long-lasting, tall-standing, rocky, clean white head should grace the surface. As it drops away slowly it will leave a clear and intricate framework of Belgian lace on the glass.
Overall aroma is a complex combination of subtle malt, fruity esters, notes of spice, and floral hops. Fruity esters can be significant showing as orange, apple, and pear. A low to medium floral hop character, often verging on perfume-like can be present. Spicy and peppery phenolic notes can range from a low-medium to medium. Malt character may be the least distinguishable, ranging from a subtle sweet grain character to an almost unnoticeable neutral. Alcohols should never be perceived as hot or solvent-like. Instead, they should be subtle, spicy, slightly perfumy, soft and range from low to moderate.
A light to medium, smooth body, often belying the significant gravity hidden within. Carbonation is high creating a spritely, fizzy mouthfeel. There should be some slight warming from the alcohol presence, but this should never be solvent-like or hot.
Malt plays a softly supporting, background role to a combination of spicy, fruity, and warming alcohol flavors. Peppery phenols present at low to medium levels, merging well with slightly higher levels of fruity esters including apple, orange, and pear. Bitterness is usually moderate to high and is often made up of a combination of hop bitterness and phenolics produced by the yeast. Carbonation can contribute to higher perceived bitterness. Hop character, if present, will be spicy and range from low to moderate. Alcohols appear as a soft spiciness and can also range from low to moderate. High carbonation and hop bitterness create a dry to very dry finish with a light residual bitterness in the aftertaste.
This style’s clean flavors, thirst quenching feel, and high carbonation make it a solid partner to many dishes. It works well as an aperitif, accompanying the fatty and salty foods that often make up before dinner snacks. Think cured meats, crackers, and triple cream cheese.
Having something spicy for dinner? Break out the Belgian Golden Strong. From salad plates made with spicier greens such as arugula, mustard greens, or dandelion to light Cajun, Indian and Tai cuisine, this beer finds an appreciated place alongside. Fish and other sea food also work incredibly well. It will heighten the flavors of lighter fish dishes, while lifting away the oiliness of fatty fish. Try battered shrimp too, preferably with a spicy cocktail sauce.
When it comes time for dessert the sugar/fruit elements of desserts like cobblers made with lighter fruits (pear, peach, apple), baklava, or bread pudding accentuate the fruity qualities of this style.