2023 Winners Announced

Congratulations to Curtis Ritter of the OC Mashups for his Best of Show beer called “Susan”, a Belgian Tripel, an assertively strong beer but with gentle warmth and spicy phenolics.  Curtis has the opportunity to brew his recipe with Tortugo Brewery as a GABF Pro-Am entry!
Congrats also to 1st Runner Up John Warner, San Francisco Homebrewer’s Guild, 23-E, Gueuze, which had just the right amount of “funk”, and 2nd Runner Up Zach Grinnell, That Damn Brew Club, 28-A, Brett Beer.  He captured a restrained Brett character that balanced the underlying malt character.

The full list of winners can be found at http://comp.belgianbrewchallenge.com/

I must say that I enjoyed the Best of Show judging session!  Thank you to Tortugo Brewery for hosting the 2023 competition.

Please join us for our awards ceremony, which will take place on Thursday, April 20th at Tortugo Brewery, 916 W Hyde Park Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90302.  Awards will be presented around 8:00 PM.

Thanks to all who entered, judged, stewarded and volunteered. In the meantime, please visit our sponsors .

Carl Townsend
Competition Organizer

Welcome to the 2023 Los Angeles Belgian Brew Challenge

Pacific Gravity Home Brewers Club is proud to announce the 6th Annual Los Angeles Belgian Brew Challenge.  This is your opportunity to show off your brewing prowess for anything Belgian.  After a 2 year hiatus for COVID, we have resumed this competition.  This year we will be running the judging at Tortugo Brewing Company in Inglewood.  Our Best in Show beer will be brewed as a Pro-Am collaboration with Tortugo.

Judging day will be at 9:oo AM on Saturday March 25th. Registration for Judges and Stewards is now open!  Registration for entries will begin on February 2nd, and run through March 10th.

As in prior years, only entries that fall under Belgian sub-categories will be accepted for this competition.  These include 2015 BJCP styles 21b, 23b, 23c, 23d, 23e, 23f, 24a, 24b, 24c, 25a, 25b, 25c, 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d, & 28a.

In addition, there is one additional specialty category 35a that should be used only if your beer does not fit within the style descriptions listed.  This would pertain to wood aged, smoked, fruit styled beers.  Make sure it is clear from your description why it wouldn’t fit into one of the standard categories.

Good Luck!
Carl Townsend
Competition Coordinator

2020 Winners Announced

At long last, we socially distanced ourselves through the Best of Show round and have come up with winners!

Congratulations to Jay Adrian Perez of SoCal Cerveceros.  His beer named Grand Cru 2015 took the top spot in style 23E Gueuze.  His beer then went on to take Best of Show!

First Runner up goes to Quadruple Borracho Belgian Strong Dark goes to the team of Jason Justeson, Joe St. John, Ralph Carrasquillo and Gabe Padilla of the Brewing Borrachos.
Second Runner-up goes to Isn’t That A Daisy, a Belgian Tripel brewed by Curtis Ritter of the OC Mashups
Honorable mentions goes to 271 – Bg #2, a Belgian Golden Strong Ale brewed by Craig Corley of Pacific Gravity.

Thanks to all who entered, judged, stewarded and volunteered.   In the meantime, please visit our sponsors.

Welcome to the 2020 Los Angeles Belgian Brew Challenge

Pacific Gravity Home Brewers Club is proud to announce the 5th Annual Los Angeles Belgian Brew Challenge.  This is your opportunity to show off your brewing prowess for anything Belgian.  Once again, the event will be hosted by Los Angeles Ale Works in Hawthorne, CA.  Our Best in Show beer will be brewed as a Pro-Am collaboration with LAAW.

Judging day will be at 9:oo AM on Sunday March 15th. Registration for Judges and Stewards is now open!  Registration for entries will begin on February 2nd, and run through March 6th.

Only entries that fall under Belgian sub-categories will be accepted for this competition (BJCP styles 21b, 23b, 23c, 23d, 23e, 23f, 24a, 24b, 24c, 25a, 25b, 25c, 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d, & 28a).  In addition, there is one additional specialty category 35a that should be used only if your beer does not fit within the style descriptions listed.  This would pertain to wood aged, smoked, fruit styled beers.  Make sure it is clear from your description why it wouldn’t fit into one of the standard categories.

35A – Belgian Specialty

Entering Specialty-Type Beers

Since additional information must be furnished with every entry in a Specialty-Type Beer category, it is critical that entrants closely examine the Entry Instructions section of each style description. This section describes the information that judges will expect. Don’t assume that judges will be able to recognize your beer without any additional information; some might, but most won’t. You will almost certainly receive a lower score if you omit this information than if you specify it properly. Put yourself in the position of the judge; write down the useful information needed to properly judge the beer. Judges won’t care if you picked the cherries in your grandmother’s yard, so don’t put down useless information – tell them the variety of cherry or how they taste.

When specifying a base beer style, read the Entry Instructions for the style carefully. Some may say that a Classic Style is required – this means that the beer should be listed as one of the styles in the guidelines (including historical beers, or beers with enumerated alternatives). Some may say that a base style must be described, but that it does not have to be a Classic Style – this is free license to describe the beer style in any way you want. If your base is loosely a porter, but wouldn’t score well as an English, American, or Baltic Porter, then don’t be overly specific – simply call it a porter. Some beers that are designed to showcase the specialty ingredient will often have a fairly neutral base.

When specifying the specialty ingredient, keep in mind that the more specific you are, the more judges will look for a signature characteristic. So be sure to taste your beer and decide how specific you need to be. If you are showcasing an unusual or expensive ingredient, that may be a good time to be specific. However, if the ingredient seems somewhat generic, then just use a generic name. If you use a combination of ingredients, such as spices, you can refer to the blend by a common name (e.g., pumpkin pie spice, curry powder, etc.). If you list every individual ingredient, judges will expect to detect each one. But if the nature of a mixture of ingredients is that the specific character of each ingredient contributes to a greater character, then just describe the resulting character. Understand how judges will use the information you provide.

Deciding where to enter a Specialty-Type Beer is often difficult for entrants. Be sure to reach each style carefully, as some styles will specify where to enter a beer with a certain combination of ingredients. We have arbitrarily defined some ingredients as taking precedence over others (in order of highest precedence: wild, smoke, wood, fruit/spice, grain/sugar), but that only applies if you can perceive that ingredient. When seeking a place to enter your Specialty-Type Beer, look for the best fit with the style description in a style where the combination is allowable. Entering a beer as a specific style will be a signal to judges that your beer will have certain identifiable components. If you added an ingredient, but it cannot be detected, then do not enter it in a style that requires the ingredient. If judges cannot perceive it, they will believe it is absent and deduct points accordingly.

Judging Specialty-Type Beers

Overall balance is the key to a successful Specialty-Type Beer. The entry should be a harmonious marriage of the beer and the special ingredients, with neither overpowering the other. The special ingredients should complement and enhance the underlying beer, and the resulting product should be pleasant to drink. The entry should be recognized as belonging in the entry category, or at least not clearly belonging elsewhere.

Some experienced judges will do take a quick hedonistic pass at a Specialty-Type Beer prior to digging deep at the particulars. The quick assessment is designed to judge whether the combination works or doesn’t (i.e., if flavor clashes exist). If the combination is a bad idea, it doesn’t matter how well the product is brewed; it simply won’t be enjoyable. Judges should keep an open mind, however; some unexpected flavor combinations can be surprisingly delicious.

Judges should not be overly pedantic about seeking the full character of a specified base beer style. After all, the base beer does not usually contain the special ingredient, so its character will not be the same. There can be interactions of flavor that produce additional sensory effects. Likewise, judges should understand that the fermentation process can transform some ingredients (particularly those with fermentable sugars), and that the ingredient character may not be the same as the unadulterated specialty ingredient. Therefore, judges should look for the overall pleasantness and balance of the resulting combination, as long as the beer suggests both the base beer and the specialty ingredient or process.

Creating and judging Specialty-Type Beers can be very rewarding. Judges should keep in mind that a creative element exists in these styles, and that something unusual and delicious should generally be rewarded. Keep an open mind when evaluating these styles, and do not look to judge them as rigidly as Classic Styles.

Effects of Added Ingredients on Balance in Beer

The ingredient character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial and inappropriately overpowering (considering the character of the ingredient), and should not have brewing, fermentation, or handling defects. Aroma hops, yeast by-products and malt components of the underlying beer may not be as noticeable when additional ingredients are present. These components (especially hops) may also be intentionally subdued to allow the ingredient character to come through in the final presentation. If the base beer is an ale then a non-specific fruitiness and/or other fermentation by-products may be present as appropriate for warmer fermentations. If the base beer is a lager, then overall less fermentation by-products would be appropriate. Some malt aroma may be desirable, especially in dark styles. Hop aroma may be absent or balanced with the added ingredients, depending on the style. The added ingredients should add an extra complexity to the beer, but not be so prominent as to unbalance the resulting presentation.



35A – Belgian Specialty

Aroma: Variable. Most exhibit varying amounts of fruity esters, spicy phenols and/or yeast-borne aromatics. Aromas from actual spice additions may be present. Hop aroma may be none to high, and may include a dry-hopped character. Malt aroma may be low to high, and may include character of non-barley grains such as wheat or rye. Some may include aromas of Belgian microbiota, most commonly Brettanomyces and/or Lactobacillus. However, be advised that these may fit better in new category 28A Brett Beer, or one of the Belgian sour categories. No diacetyl.
Appearance: Variable. Color varies considerably from pale gold to very dark. Clarity may be hazy to clear. Head retention is usually good. Generally moderate to high carbonation.
Flavor: Variable. A great variety of flavors are found in these beers. Maltiness may be light to quite rich. Hop flavor and bitterness may be low to high. Spicy flavors may be imparted by yeast (phenolics) and/or actual spice additions. May include characteristics of grains other than barley, such as wheat or rye. May include flavors produced by Belgian microbiota such as Brettanomyces or Lactobacillus. However, be advised that these may fit better in new category 28A Brett Beer, or one of the Belgian sour categories. May include flavors from adjuncts such as caramelized sugar syrup or honey. May include flavors from specialized techniques such as wood-aging.
Mouthfeel: Variable. Some are well-attenuated, thus fairly light-bodied for their original gravity, while others are thick and rich.  Most are moderately to highly carbonated. A warming sensation from alcohol may be present in stronger examples. A “mouth puckering” sensation may be present from acidity.
Overall Impression: Variable. This category encompasses a wide range of Belgian ales produced by truly artisanal brewers more concerned with creating unique products than in increasing sales.
History: Unique beers of small, independent Belgian breweries that have come to enjoy local popularity but may be far less well-known outside of their own regions. Many have attained “cult status” in the U.S. (and other parts of the world) and now owe a significant portion of their sales to export.
Comments: This is a catch-all category for any Belgian-style beer not fitting any other Belgian style category.  Please note that with the expanded categories, some of the beers traditionally lumped in here now have distinct categories. The category can be used for clones of specific beers (e.g., La Chouffe); to produce a beer fitting a broader style that doesn’t have its own category; or to create an artisanal or experimental beer of the brewer’s own choosing (e.g., strong Belgian golden ale with spices, something unique). Creativity is the only limit in brewing but the entrants must identify what is special about their entry. This category may be used as an “incubator” for recognized styles for which there is not yet a formal BJCP category. Some styles falling into this classification include:

  • Artisanal Blonde
  • Artisanal Amber
  • Artisanal Brown
  • Belgian-style Barleywines
  • Trappist Quadrupels
  • Belgian Spiced Christmas Beers
  • Belgian Stout
  • Fruit-based Flanders Red/Brown

The following styles should NOT be entered here and instead should be entered in their respective categories:

  • Blond Trappist table beer – Use Cat 26A Trappist Single
  • Belgian IPA – Use Cat 21B Specialty IPA
  • White IPA – Use Cat 21B Specialty IPA
  • Strong and/or Dark Saison – Use Cat 25B Saison which now includes dark and strong variants.

The judges must understand the brewer’s intent in order to properly judge an entry in this category. THE BREWER MUST SPECIFY EITHER THE BEER BEING CLONED, THE NEW STYLE BEING PRODUCED OR THE SPECIAL INGREDIENTS OR PROCESSES USED. Additional background information on the style and/or beer may be provided to judges to assist in the judging, including style parameters or detailed descriptions of the beer. Beers fitting other Belgian categories should not be entered in this category.
Ingredients: May include herbs and/or spices. May include unusual grains and malts, though the grain character should be apparent if it is a key ingredient. May include adjuncts such as caramelized sugar syrup and honey. May include Belgian microbiota such as Brettanomyces or Lactobacillus. Unusual techniques, such as blending, may be used through primarily to arrive at a particular result. The process alone does not make a beer unique to a blind judging panel if the final product does not taste different.
Vital Statistics:
OG: varies
IBUs: varies
FG: varies
SRM: varies
ABV: varies
Commercial Examples: De Dolle’s Arabier, Oerbier, Boskeun and Stille Nacht; La Chouffe, McChouffe, Chouffe Bok and N’ice Chouffe; Ellezelloise Hercule Stout and Quintine Amber; Unibroue Ephemere, Maudite, Don de Dieu, etc.; Minty; Zatte Bie; Caracole Amber, Saxo and Nostradamus; Silenrieu Sara and Joseph; Fantôme Black Ghost and Speciale Noël; Dupont Moinette, Moinette Brune, and Avec Les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie Dupont; St. Fullien Noël; Gouden Carolus Noël; Affligem Nöel; Guldenburg and Pere Noël; De Ranke XX Bitter and Guldenberg; Poperings Hommelbier; Bush (Scaldis); Moinette Brune; Grottenbier; La Trappe Quadrupel; Weyerbacher QUAD; Bière de Miel; Verboden Vrucht; New Belgium 1554 Black Ale; Cantillon Iris; Lindemans Kriek and Framboise, and many more.

28A – Brett Beer

Overall Impression: Most often drier and fruitier than the base style suggests. Funky notes range from low to high, depending on the age of the beer and strain(s) of Brett used. Funkiness is generally restrained in younger 100% Brett examples, but tends to increase with age. May possess a light acidity, although this does not come from Brett.

Aroma: Variable by base style. Young Brett-fermented beers will possess more fruity notes (e.g., tropical fruit, stone fruit, or citrus), but this is variable by the strain(s) of Brett used. For 100% Brett beers heavily hopped with American hop varieties, the fermentation-derived flavors are often difficult to tease from the hop aromatics. Older 100% Brett beers may start to develop a little funk (e.g., barnyard, wet hay, or slightly earthy or smoky notes), but this character should not dominate. If the beer is fermented with a brewer’s yeast in addition to Brett, some of the character of the primary yeast may remain. A faint sourness is acceptable but should not be a prominent character.

Appearance: Variable by base style. Clarity can be variable, and depends on the base style and ingredients used. Some haze is not necessarily a fault.

Flavor: Variable by base style. Brett character may range from minimal to aggressive. Can be quite fruity (e.g., tropical fruit, berry, stone fruit, citrus), or have some smoky, earthy, or barnyard character. Should not be unpleasantly funky, such as Band-Aid, fetid, nail polish remover, cheese, etc. Light sourness is acceptable with the beer being lightly tart, but should not be truly sour. Always fruitier when young, gaining more funk with age. May not be acetic or lactic. Malt flavors are often less pronounced than in the base style, leaving a beer most often dry and crisp due to high attenuation by the Brett.

Mouthfeel: Variable by base style. Generally a light body, lighter than what might be expected from the base style but an overly thin body is a fault. Generally moderate to high carbonation. Head retention is variable.

Comments: The base style describes most of the character of these beers, but the addition of Brett ensures a drier, thinner, and funkier product. Younger versions are brighter and fruitier, while older ones possess more depth of funk and may lose more of the base style character. Wood-aged versions should be entered in the Wild Specialty Beer style. The Brett character should always meld with the style; these beers should never be a ‘Brett bomb’. Note that Brett does not produce lactic acid.

History: Modern American craft beer interpretations of Belgian wild ales, or experimentations inspired by Belgian wild ales or historical English beers with Brett. 100% Brett beers gained popularity after the year 2000; Port Brewing Mo Betta Bretta was one of the first celebrated examples.

Characteristic Ingredients: Virtually any style of beer, fermented in any manner, then finished with one or more strains of Brett. Alternatively, a beer made with Brett as the sole fermentation strain.

Style Comparison: Compared to the same beer style without Brett, a Brett Beer will be drier, more highly attenuated, fruitier, lighter in body, and slightly funkier as it ages. Less sourness and depth than Belgian ‘wild’ ales.

Entry Instructions: The entrant must specify either a base beer style (Classic Style, or a generic style family) or provide a description of the ingredients/specs/desired character. The entrant must specify if a 100% Brett fermentation was conducted. The entrant may specify the strain(s) of Brettanomyces used.

Vital Statistics: Variable by base style.

Commercial Examples: Boulevard Saison Brett, Hill Farmstead Arthur, Logsdon Seizoen Bretta, Russian River Sanctification, The Bruery Saison Rue, Victory Helios

26D – Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Overall Impression: A dark, complex, very strong Belgian ale with a delicious blend of malt richness, dark fruit flavors, and spicy elements. Complex, rich, smooth and dangerous.

Aroma: Complex, with a rich-sweet malty presence, significant esters and alcohol, and an optional light to moderate spiciness. The malt is rich and strong, and can have a deep bready-toasty quality often with a deep caramel complexity. The fruity esters are strong to moderately low, and can contain raisin, plum, dried cherry, fig or prune notes. Spicy phenols may be present, but usually have a peppery quality not clove-like; light vanilla is possible. Alcohols are soft, spicy, perfumy and/or rose-like, and are low to moderate in intensity. Hops are not usually present (but a very low spicy, floral, or herbal hop aroma is acceptable). No dark/roast malt aroma. No hot alcohols or solventy aromas.

Appearance: Deep amber to deep coppery-brown in color (dark in this context implies more deeply colored than golden). Huge, dense, moussy, persistent cream- to light tan-colored head. Can be clear to somewhat hazy.

Flavor: Similar to aroma (same malt, ester, phenol, alcohol, and hop comments apply to flavor as well). Moderately malty-rich on the palate, which can have a sweet impression if bitterness is low. Usually moderately dry to dry finish, although may be up to moderately sweet. Medium-low to moderate bitterness; alcohol provides some of the balance to the malt. Generally malty-rich balance, but can be fairly even with bitterness. The complex and varied flavors should blend smoothly and harmoniously. The finish should not be heavy or syrupy.

Mouthfeel: High carbonation but not sharp. Smooth but noticeable alcohol warmth. Body can range from medium-light to medium-full and creamy. Most are medium-bodied.

Comments: Authentic Trappist versions tend to be drier (Belgians would say more digestible) than Abbey versions, which can be rather sweet and full-bodied. Traditionally bottle-conditioned (or refermented in the bottle). Sometimes known as a Trappist Quadruple, most are simply known by their strength or color designation.

History: Most versions are unique in character reflecting characteristics of individual breweries, produced in limited quantities and often highly sought-after.

Characteristic Ingredients: Belgian yeast strains prone to production of higher alcohols, esters, and sometimes phenolics are commonly used. Impression of a complex grain bill, although many traditional versions are quite simple, with caramelized sugar syrup or unrefined sugars and yeast providing much of the complexity. Saazer-type, English-type or Styrian Goldings hops commonly used. Spices generally not used; if used, keep subtle and in the background.

Style Comparison: Like a larger dubbel, with a fuller body and increased malt richness. Not as bitter or hoppy as a tripel, but of similar strength.

Vital Statistics:

OG:  1.075 – 1.110

IBUs:  20 – 35

FG:  1.010 – 1.024

SRM:  12 – 22

ABV:  8.0 – 12.0%

Commercial Examples: Achel Extra Brune, Boulevard The Sixth Glass, Chimay Grande Réserve, Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of the Emperor, Rochefort 8 & 10, St. Bernardus Abt 12, Westvleteren 12

26C – Belgian Tripel

Overall Impression: A pale, somewhat spicy, dry, strong Trappist ale with a pleasant rounded malt flavor and firm bitterness. Quite aromatic, with spicy, fruity, and light alcohol notes combining with the supportive clean malt character to produce a surprisingly drinkable beverage considering the high alcohol level.

Aroma: Complex bouquet with moderate to significant spiciness, moderate fruity esters and low alcohol and hop aromas. Generous spicy, peppery, sometimes clove-like phenols. Esters are often reminiscent of citrus fruits such as oranges, but may sometimes have a slight banana character. A low yet distinctive spicy, floral, sometimes perfumy hop character is usually found. Alcohols are soft, spicy and low in intensity. The malt character is light, with a soft, slightly grainy-sweet or slightly honey-like impression. The best examples have a seamless, harmonious interplay between the yeast character, hops, malt, and alcohol.

Appearance: Deep yellow to deep gold in color. Good clarity. Effervescent. Long-lasting, creamy, rocky, white head resulting in characteristic Belgian lace on the glass as it fades.

Flavor: Marriage of spicy, fruity and alcohol flavors supported by a soft, rounded grainy-sweet malt impression, occasionally with a very light honey note. Low to moderate phenols are peppery in character. Esters are reminiscent of citrus fruit such as orange or sometimes lemon, and are low to moderate. A low to moderate spicy hop character is usually found. Alcohols are soft, spicy, and low in intensity. Bitterness is typically medium to high from a combination of hop bitterness and yeast-produced phenolics. Substantial carbonation and bitterness lends a dry finish with a moderately bitter aftertaste with substantial spicy-fruity yeast character. The grainy-sweet malt flavor does not imply any residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body, although lighter than the substantial gravity would suggest. Highly carbonated. The alcohol content is deceptive, and has little to no obvious warming sensation. Always effervescent.

Comments: High in alcohol but does not taste strongly of alcohol. The best examples are sneaky, not obvious. High carbonation and attenuation helps to bring out the many flavors and to increase the perception of a dry finish. Most Trappist versions have at least 30 IBUs and are very dry. Traditionally bottle-conditioned (or refermented in the bottle).

History: Originally popularized by the Trappist monastery at Westmalle.

Characteristic Ingredients: Pilsner malt, typically with pale sugar adjuncts. Saazer-type hops or Styrian Goldings are commonly used. Belgian yeast strains are used – those that produce fruity esters, spicy phenolics and higher alcohols – often aided by slightly warmer fermentation temperatures. Spice additions are generally not traditional, and if used, should be a background character only. Fairly soft water.

Style Comparison: May resemble a Belgian Golden Strong Ale but slightly darker and somewhat fuller-bodied, with more emphasis on phenolics and less on esters. Usually has a more rounded malt flavor but should never be sweet.

Vital Statistics:

OG:  1.075 – 1.085

IBUs:  20 – 40

FG:  1.008 – 1.014

SRM:  4.5 – 7

ABV:  7.5 – 9.5%

Commercial Examples: Affligem Tripel, Chimay Cinq Cents, La Rulles Tripel, La Trappe Tripel, St. Bernardus Tripel, Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Val-Dieu Triple, Watou Tripel, Westmalle Tripel

26B – Belgian Dubbel

Overall Impression: A deep reddish-copper, moderately strong, malty, complex Trappist ale with rich malty flavors, dark or dried fruit esters, and light alcohol blended together in a malty presentation that still finishes fairly dry.

Aroma: Complex, rich-sweet malty aroma, possibly with hints of chocolate, caramel and/or toast (but never roasted or burnt aromas). Moderate fruity esters (usually including raisins and plums, sometimes also dried cherries). Esters sometimes include banana or apple. Spicy phenols and higher alcohols are common (may include light clove and spice, peppery, rose-like and/or perfumy notes). Spicy qualities can be moderate to very low. Alcohol, if present, is soft and never hot or solventy. Low to no spicy, herbal, or floral hop aroma, typically absent. The malt is most prominent in the balance with esters and a touch of alcohol in support, blending together for a harmonious presentation.

Appearance: Dark amber to copper in color, with an attractive reddish depth of color. Generally clear. Large, dense, and long-lasting creamy off-white head.

Flavor: Similar qualities as aroma. Rich, complex medium to medium-full rich-sweet malt flavor on the palate yet finishes moderately dry. Complex malt, ester, alcohol and phenol interplay (raisiny flavors are common; dried fruit flavors are welcome; clove or pepper spiciness is optional). Balance is always toward the malt. Medium-low bitterness that doesn’t persist into the aftertaste. Low spicy, floral, or herbal hop flavor is optional and not usually present.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium-high carbonation, which can influence the perception of body. Low alcohol warmth. Smooth, never hot or solventy.

Comments: Most commercial examples are in the 6.5 – 7% ABV range. Traditionally bottle-conditioned (or refermented in the bottle).

History: Originated at monasteries in the Middle Ages, and was revived in the mid-1800s after the Napoleonic era.

Characteristic Ingredients: Belgian yeast strains prone to production of higher alcohols, esters, and phenolics are commonly used. Impression of complex grain bill, although traditional versions are typically Belgian Pils malt with caramelized sugar syrup or other unrefined sugars providing much of the character. Saazer-type, English-type or Styrian Goldings hops commonly used. No spices are traditionally used, although restrained use is allowable (background strength only).

Style Comparison: Should not be as malty as a bock and should not have crystal malt-type sweetness. Similar in strength and balance as a Belgian Blond, but with a richer malt and ester profile. Less strong and intense as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale.

Vital Statistics:

OG:  1.062 – 1.075

IBUs:  15 – 25

FG:  1.008 – 1.018

SRM:  10 – 17

ABV:  6.0 – 7.6%

Commercial Examples: Affligem Dubbel, Chimay Première, Corsendonk Pater, Grimbergen Double, La Trappe Dubbel, St. Bernardus Pater 6, Trappistes Rochefort 6, Westmalle Dubbel

26A – Trappist Single

Overall Impression: A pale, bitter, highly attenuated and well carbonated Trappist ale, showing a fruity-spicy Trappist yeast character, a spicy-floral hop profile, and a soft, supportive grainy-sweet malt palate.

Aroma: Medium-low to medium-high Trappist yeast character, showing a fruity-spicy character along with medium-low to medium spicy or floral hops, occasionally enhanced by light herbal/citrusy spice additions. Low to medium-low grainy-sweet malt backdrop, which may have a light honey or sugar quality. Fruit expression can vary widely (citrus, pome fruit, stone fruit). Light spicy, yeast-driven phenolics found in the best examples. Bubblegum inappropriate.

Appearance: Pale yellow to medium gold color. Generally good clarity, with a moderate-sized, persistent, billowy white head with characteristic lacing.

Flavor: Fruity, hoppy, bitter, and dry. Initial malty-sweet impression, with a grainy-sweet soft malt palate, and a dry, hoppy finish. The malt may have a light honeyed biscuit or cracker impression. Moderate spicy or floral hop flavor. Esters can be citrus (orange, lemon, grapefruit), pome fruit (apple, pear), or stone fruit (apricot, peach). Light to moderate spicy, peppery, or clove phenolics. Bitterness rises towards the crisp, dry finish, with an aftertaste of light malt, moderate hops and yeast character.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Smooth. Medium-high to high carbonation, can be somewhat prickly. Should not have noticeable alcohol warmth.

Comments: Often not labeled or available outside the monastery, or infrequently brewed. Might also be called monk’s beer or Brother’s beer. Highly attenuated, generally 85% or higher.

History: While Trappist breweries have a tradition of brewing a lower-strength beer as a monk’s daily ration, the bitter, pale beer this style describes is a relatively modern invention reflecting current tastes. Westvleteren first brewed theirs in 1999, but replaced older lower-gravity products.

Characteristic Ingredients: Pilsner malt, Belgian Trappist yeast, Saazer-type hops.

Style Comparison: Like a top-fermented Belgian/Trappist interpretation of a German Pils – pale, hoppy, and well-attenuated, but showing prototypical Belgian yeast character. Has less sweetness, higher attenuation, less character malt, and is more hop-centered than a Belgian Pale Ale. More like a much smaller, more highly hopped tripel than a smaller Belgian Blond Ale.

Vital Statistics:

OG:  1.044 – 1.054

IBUs:  25 – 45

FG:  1.004 – 1.010

SRM:  3 – 5

ABV:  4.8 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples: Achel 5° Blond, St. Bernardus Extra 4, Westmalle Extra, Westvleteren Blond