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Beer #7 – January 7, 2010: Smuttynose Winter Ale

January 7, 2010

Beer: Smuttynose Winter Ale

Brewery: Smuttynose Brewing Company, Portsmouth, NH

Style: Dubbel

Serving Type: Bottle – Best before April 2010

Price: $7.99 / 6-pack

Availability: Winter Seasonal

Glassware: Goblet

Strength: 4.8% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Tasty, but rich… one is enjoyable, but just enough

Tasting Notes

strong>Appearance: Pours a deep opaque ruby-brown with a thin tan head that disappates quickly

Aroma: Sweet, malty, raisins and red wine

Mouthfeel: Medium, slightly syrupy body with moderate amount of tiny bubbles of carbonation, satisfying

Taste: There is an initial amber maple and molasses sweetness that quickly develops into a rich middle balanced between dark fruit (raisins, plums and cherries) and deep malts (chewy caramel and chocolate).  The yeast brings some subtle clove and corriander spice, with a little earthy funkiness.  The finish is slightly drying with a touch of woody bitterness, creating a nice counterpoint to the rich flavors of the middle.  Overall, not quite equal to classic Belgian Trappist Dubbels, but a worthy and enjoyable take on the style.

Pairing: This would go great with Slow Braised Pork with Raisins & Balsamic, a recipe from my previous beer blog.  Also, short ribs would be excellent too.  Really, any tender meat in a rich sauce would pair quite nicely.

Trivia:  A Dubbel is a style of beer that originated in Trappist breweries of Belgium.  The tradition of monastery brewhouses began with monks brewing beer to provide their local community (as well as themselves) with beer, given that drinking beer was much safter than drinking local water in many areas in the middle ages.  This evolved over the years into the breweries generating funds for both the monestary operations and good causes they support.  Over the years, monastery breweries have been responsible for major advances in the science and brewing of beer.

In reverence to these wonderful beers, the traditional styles developed by the Trappist brewers have been adopted by brewers around the world.  There are typically four basic different styles.  “Singles” are mild, relatively low alcohol ales that traditionally were brewed by Trappist monks for their own consumption, and still are rarely found for public sale.  Dubbels (or Doubles) are somewhat stronger brown ales (6% to 9% ABV), but despite the name, are not double the alcohol content.  Tripels (or Triples) are strong golden ales with an alcohol content of 8% to 12%, with a very different flavor profile than the other Abbey styles..  Quads (or Quadrupels) are a darker style that developed more recently, often a stronger take on the brewery’s dubbel, with alcohol content as high as 13%.

These designations (Single, Dubbel, Tripel, Quad) may have originally related to the amount of malt used in brewing the beer, but these days only relate to the general flavor characteristics of the particular style. 

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