Have you heard your drinking buddies mention beer styles Dubbel, Tripel, and Quad? These three originated from Belgium, but we’ll mainly focus on Quad, which is the most alcoholic one. If you have never heard of these three, you’re probably wondering what is a Quad beer, right?
Quad, which fully stands for Quadrupel, is a dark strong Belgium style beer. Its overall appearance is amber to dark brown but peppery and bready. While Quadrupels are known to be mild in their hoppiness and sweetness, we were surprised by their alcoholic strength. It would be best if you always kept their ABV (which is routinely above 10%) in mind when buying or drinking.
Are you eager to further explore this Belgian strong dark ale? Here’s what we’ve gathered for you!
Where did Quad come from?
Just like we’ve mentioned above, Dubbel, Tripel, and Quad fall under the same bracket. They’re all varieties of Belgian Trappist ales and have been brewing for generations since the 1600s. But, we won’t dig the history of Trappe ales dipper because we only want to focus on Quad, a more contemporary style.
Quad is a mixture of Dubbel’s flavor profile and hue, with a pinch of Tripel. While there is a considerable number of quads, seasonal ale, a beer brewed by De Koningshoeven in the Netherlands was the first to go by the name Quadrupel.
The Netherlands started brewing Trappe ales in 1884, and during the first phase of the brewing revolution, the beers came to the U.S and other small breweries. Among the Trappe ales, we can undoubtedly tell that quadrupel, or as you know it, “Quad” has become more prevalent in American craft beer.
As a matter of fact, American drinkers easily understand the prominent nomenclature as an evolution from single to dubbel to Tripel, to Quad, which we also thought sounds a bit cooler. Even though Quad is the most robust dark ale, with original gravities compared to tripels, it is now famous in American brewing. Besides, quads made in the U.S tend to be cleaner in terms of yeast, yet filled with great flavors.
Ingredients of a Quad beer
Which are the main ingredients that create this mouth-coating ale? Well, it takes a combination of yeast blend, water, high-quality specialty malts, hops, and a considerable amount of gravity boosting extract. These elements make an excellent Belgian ale, coupled with flavors of sugar, caramel, and complex fruity aromas.
How to make a Quad beer
Would you like to brew your own Belgian dark strong ale? The process is relatively simple as long as you adhere to the brewing instructions. To get the best results out of a quadruple recipe, use enough yeast of approximately three packets for an adequate pitch rate. Yeast is a crucial ingredient for the fermentation process. So, be generous on the yeast, and it will take care of you!
Before you start brewing your Quad, ensure that your yeast is at room temperature and that you have all the necessary ingredients, at least the ones we mentioned above. Once you have everything set, you can now follow our recommended recipe instructions.
What do Quads taste like?
The first thing you’ll notice with a Quad beer is its delicious blend of raisins, plums, dates, grapes, dark fruit flavors of figs, malt richness, and spicy elements. Most people associate the savors of this beer with vinous, red-wine characters such as brown sugar, caramel, and fruitiness aromas.
Although the flavor and hop aroma are not so strong, you can perceive. It’s medium-low to medium-high (ranges from 25-50 IBU) bitterness with the first sip. The presence of alcohol in Quads is also high and pretty noticeable to the taste, with an ABV of 7.2-11.2%.
That aside, Quads are well balanced with sipping/savoring drinkability. You’ll also be surprised by how mild and pleasant they’re. After all, the added carbonation, spice, and simple sugars ensure that the beer is too heavy and sweet.
What are the most popular Quads?
Not sure which Quad to try first? Or are you looking to taste one of the dark, most robust ales? Don’t worry because we’ve got you covered. There are many quads available in the market, and we got the chance to taste a few, but the three essential ones we think you should try include:
1. La Trappe Quadrupel
Of course, who doesn’t want to try the first beer to have the name “quad” on it? What we like the most about these Belgian ale classics is the fact that today you can easily find them in your local or any decent beer store.
Even though the craft beer world obsesses and spins about the latest thing, we’re impressed by how these timeless pints have endured. As a matter of fact, La Trappe is unique compared to what other quads or Belgian dark strong ales bring to the table.
For instance, its color is significantly lighter and seems to have much in common with a malty tripel than we could perceive a quad. It has a uniquely different nose, full of farmhouse-like aromatics and spicy esters, with toasty and soft malt. Unlike ales of this style, La Trappe contains some herbaceousness, making it mesmerizing and exceptional.
2. St. Bernardus Abt. 12
If we were to rate St. Bernardus Abt.12, we would undeniably put it in the classic basket. The history of this style is somehow linked to the family of brewery Westvleteren. While most of us think that Westvleteren 12 is usually the most refined Belgian strong ale/quad globally, St. Bernardus Abt. 12 is also believed to share a similar recipe and yeast strain, according to the case in 1945.
Indeed, the same year the founder of Westvleteren 12, Mathieu Szafranski, partnered with Bernardus business. He came with the recipe and made the St. Sixtus yeast strain famous. As a result, the beer came out brilliantly complex, with dark malty flavors, raisin-like fruit, dried, and delicate bready pepperiness that blends perfectly with the presence of high alcohol content.
3. Brain Damage
Another style that we suggest you should try is Brain Damage, an incredible Quadruple that was aged in both pinot noir and bourbon barrels for two years and four months by Gigantic Brewing Co. from Portland. No better style of beer will illustrate to you how unique an American interpretation can be.
While St. Bernardus Abt.12 is quite subtle, Brain Damage is a kind of beer that will punch you right in the face with a fantastic flavor but not entirely overwhelming. We like its flavor offerings that include brown sugar, gingerbread, raisin, and maple, as they closely remind us of Samuel Adam.
If you’ve never tried or tasted Samuel Adams Utopias, then take it from us; it is a super-strong beer with more than 20% ABV! This beer is decadent, and you can expect the same drinking experience with Brain Damage. So, before you dive right into consuming this beer, keep in mind that it has a high alcohol level.
Food pairings for a Quad beer
Are you throwing a party soon and wondering which dishes can go well with a quad beer? Take it from us, quads are food-friendly, and since they are the well-aged vintage style of beers, they are filled with palatable flavors, which pair perfectly with a multitude of foods.
However, before you match a dish with a vintage beer like Quad, you need to consider the intensity. What we mean is that you should match robust dishes with assertive beers and subtle foods with subtle beers. As in this case, you cannot match a Belgian quad with white fish’ nuances due to its high alcohol content.
Instead, combine it with bread pudding, which blends well with the caramel hints of a quad. If you prefer savory rather than sweet foods, you can go with a strong cheese like Gouda or various cheesecakes. We also think an avocado salad can complement a quad well, especially with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. To have a terrific match, pair the drink with a medium cooked prime rib or fillet.
With all that said, we want to believe that you can now relate to why a Belgian quad is famous and pretty different from other ales. Everything about it is interesting, from how it was founded to its exceptional taste loaded with flavorsome elements. It is robust than most ales but mild and drinkable.
For those with savory preferences, there is a vast number of quads to select from, starting with the oldest Belgian strong ale La Trappe, followed by the brilliantly complex St. Bernardus Abt. 12, and Brain Damage. These three alone can illustrate the secret behind this vintage beer.
Though one thing you should be well aware of is the ABV level of this style of beer. Alcohol percentage above 7% is pretty high, right? So, you might need to go slow on the intake and pair it with dishes of the same intensity.
Do you have a question concerning this Belgian dark strong ale? Please make sure to ask. For now, let us know which Quad you would go with between La Trappe, St. Bernardus Abt. 12, and Brain Damage? Also, don’t forget to tell us the reason behind your choice.