What is a Quadrupel? In this article, you will learn interesting facts about Quadrupel.
Quadrupel, often referred to as “Quad,” is a type of strong, dark ale that originated in the Belgian Trappist brewing tradition. Known for its rich, complex flavor and high alcohol content, Quadrupel has gained popularity among beer enthusiasts around the world. Its origins can be traced back to the La Trappe Quadrupel brewed by De Koningshoeven Brewery in the Netherlands, one of the thirteen Trappist breweries globally.
This style of beer is characterized by its medium to full-bodied nature, with an alcohol by volume (ABV) range of 8.0% to 12.0% and an International Bitterness Units (IBU) range of 20 to 35. Quadrupels showcase a unique color palette, ranging from garnet to brown, and a rich aroma that combines sweet malt, fruity esters, and moderately spicy phenols. Typically served at a temperature of 55 – 57° F, Quadrupels are best enjoyed in specialty glassware such as a snifter or tulip glass to enhance their sensory experience.
Among the most noteworthy Quadrupels are the La Trappe Quadrupel, Abt by Westvleteren, and St. Bernardus, each revered for their distinct flavors and impeccable craftsmanship. As beer enthusiasts continue to explore the vast world of ales, Quadrupels undoubtedly remain a fascinating cornerstone in the realm of high-quality brewing.
Table of Contents
Origins and History
The origins of Quadrupel can be traced back to the 1600s when Trappist monasteries in Belgium started producing Belgian ales for public consumption. This practice served to keep the monks occupied and generate income for monastery living costs and charitable endeavors. Quadrupel, in particular, emerged as the strongest of the Trappist and Abbey ales, with La Trappe from the Netherlands pioneering the Quad style.
De Koningshoeven Brewery, located in the Netherlands, is one of only thirteen Trappist breweries in the world. They are renowned for brewing La Trappe Quadrupel, a potent seasonal beer that laid the foundation for the Quadrupel, or quad, as a generic trademark in countries like the United States.
Quadrupel is inspired by Belgian Trappist ales, which are classified into numerical groups based on their alcohol content. The classifications are Enkel (single), Dubbel (double), and Tripel (triple). Quadrupel represents the strongest beers, typically bearing an alcohol content of 9% or above.
Though Quadrupel originated in the Netherlands with La Trappe, the Belgian Trappist brewing tradition has also left its mark on the style. Westvleteren crafted a nearly identical brew called Abt, which later became known as St. Bernardus.
As a style, Quadrupel has continued to grow in popularity and has inspired many breweries outside the Trappist and Abbey spheres to produce their unique interpretations, expanding the reach of this strong, flavorful beer.
Quadrupel Beer Style Characteristics
Quadrupel beers typically have a dark, rich color that ranges from deep amber to coppery-brown. They often exhibit deep red or ruby-brown hues with garnet undertones, making them visually distinguishable from lighter golden ales. The clarity of Quadrupels can vary between clear and hazy, but they usually showcase a light tan-colored head when poured.
These bold and complex dark ales offer a rich and inviting aroma. Quadrupel beers tend to display a combination of malty sweetness, dark fruits, and spicy notes, converging to create an intriguing and pleasant scent. As you bring your nose closer to the glass, you may detect hints of caramel, raisins, and even a subtle yeastiness.
When it comes to taste, Quadrupel beers truly deliver. They feature a full-bodied, malty palate that often leans toward the sweet side. The flavor profile of a Quadrupel encompasses dark fruit notes such as figs, plums, and raisins, along with a touch of spice from the phenols present. The overall taste is rich and balanced, with a low bitterness that allows the beer’s smooth, well-perceived alcohol to shine. Due to their intricate taste, Quads are well suited for cellaring, which allows their flavors to develop and improve over time.
Quadrupel beers are known for their lively carbonation, which accentuates their various taste profiles. The effervescence in a Quad beer balances out its hefty body and malty sweetness, providing a cleansing sensation on the palate that encourages another sip. This carbonation also contributes to the formation of the Quad’s signature light tan head, which typically has a fine texture and lacing that clings to the glass as you drink.
Ingredients and Brewing Process
Quadrupel is known for its rich and complex flavor profile, which largely comes from the types of malts used in the brewing process. Dark malts are essential in creating the deep ruby to brown color characteristic of this strong Belgian beer style. The malt flavors often include notes of raisin, plum, and fig, contributing to the overall sweet maltiness prominent in Quadrupel beers.
Yeast plays a critical role in defining the unique characteristics of Quadrupel beers. These beers are made using top-fermenting yeast, a common trait in traditional ale fermentation. The fermentation process produces a variety of flavors, such as fruity esters and spicy phenols, which are integral to the beer’s overall taste. One key flavor that emerges from the yeast is the clove-like spiciness, adding complexity to the beer’s profile.
While not the primary focus in Quadrupel beers, hops are a necessary component in the brewing process. The bitterness from the hops helps balance the sweetness derived from the malt, creating harmony within its flavor profile. Hops used for these beers tend to be more subtle and play a background role, allowing the other ingredients to shine through.
To add even more depth and complexity to Quadrupel beers, brewers often include additional spices and flavors. Though not always present, these spices can accentuate the beer’s dark fruit flavors such as raisins, plums, and figs, and complement its spicy phenols and fruity esters. Some common spices added to Quadrupel beers include cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander, which serve to enhance the overall richness of the beer.
Notable Quadrupel Beers
La Trappe Quadrupel
La Trappe Quadrupel is a strong seasonal beer brewed by De Koningshoeven Brewery in the Netherlands. This Trappist beer has an alcohol content of 10% and is known for its rich, malty flavor profile. La Trappe was the first brewery to use the term “Quadrupel” for their beer, setting the standard for this style of beer.
Westvleteren is a renowned Trappist beer brewed by the monks at the Sint-Sixtus Abbey in Belgium. The Westvleteren Quadrupel, also known as Westvleteren 12, has gained a reputation as one of the best beers in the world due to its complex flavor and rarity. With an alcohol content of 10.2%, this beer offers a delicious combination of rich maltiness, dark fruit flavors, and a hint of chocolate.
St. Bernardus is another famous Belgian brewery producing a Quadrupel called Abt 12. This beer is similar in style to the Westvleteren Quadrupel, with a slightly lower alcohol content of 10%. The rich flavors of St. Bernardus Abt 12 include notes of dark fruit, caramel, and toffee, making it a great representation of the Quadrupel style.
Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel
Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel is a beer produced by De Halve Maan Brewery in Bruges, Belgium. This Quadrupel has a slightly higher alcohol content of 11% and is known for its dark, ruby appearance and complex flavor profile. Tasting notes for Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel include dark fruits, spices, and a hint of bitterness.
Boulevard Brewing Co. Bourbon Barrel Quad
The Bourbon Barrel Quad by Boulevard Brewing Co. offers a unique twist on the traditional Quadrupel style by aging the beer in bourbon barrels. This process imparts rich flavors of oak, vanilla, and bourbon to the base Quad, making for an interesting and complex flavor experience. With an alcohol content of 11.2%, this American take on the Quadrupel style has become popular among craft beer enthusiasts.
Quadrupel beer is known for its distinctive dark fruit flavors, which can include notes of raisins, plums, dates, grapes, and figs. These rich, fruity qualities give the beer a character that is reminiscent of red wine, adding depth and complexity to its overall taste profile.
Sweet and Maltiness
The flavor of Quadrupel is marked by a delicious blend of malt richness, caramel, and dark sugar, which contributes to its sweet and full-bodied character. This sweetness is balanced by medium-low to medium-high hop bitterness, ensuring that the beer maintains a well-rounded flavor without becoming excessively sweet or cloying. The maltiness in Quadrupel provides a solid backbone for the fruity and spicy notes that define the beer, creating a harmonious and satisfying taste experience.
Spicy and Complex
In addition to its sweet, malty richness and dark fruit flavors, Quadrupel is characterized by a complex and spicy element. Contributing to this complexity are the unique yeast strains used in brewing, which can impart flavors such as clove, pepper, and other spices. This combination of malt, fruit, and spice gives Quadrupel its signature smooth, creamy, and soft finish, ensuring that each sip is an experience to savor. The complexity of Quadrupel offers a decidedly unique and intriguing flavor profile that invites drinkers to explore its layers of taste and uncover new nuances with each sip.
Quadrupel and Food Pairings
Quadrupel, a strong Belgian beer, is known for its rich and complex flavors. This bold beverage pairs well with a variety of dishes, enhancing the dining experience for any food lover. Being confident and knowledgeable about these pairings allows you to fully appreciate the harmony between quadrupel and your meal.
Bread pudding is a delightful dish to accompany quadrupel. The sweet and dense dessert complements the dark fruit flavors and malt richness present in the beer. The warm spices in bread pudding, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, also pair nicely with Quadrupel’s spicy elements, creating a pleasant and indulgent combination.
When it comes to meat, quadrupel excels at complementing rich, bold flavors. Roasted duck, for example, is a popular choice due to its fatty and slightly gamey texture. The intense flavors of quadrupel balance out the richness of the duck, elevating the overall taste experience. Smoked meats also pair well with this Belgian beer, as the smokiness and savory aspects enhance the complexity of Quadrupel.
French and Dutch cuisine both offer fantastic food pairing opportunities for quadrupel. In French gastronomy, dishes made of slow-cooked meats, mushrooms, and creamy sauces are particularly well-suited for this beer. Think coq au vin or beef bourguignon, where the deep flavors and rich sauces seamlessly blend with the strong ale.
In Dutch cuisine, aged Gouda cheese is an excellent pairing choice, as the nutty and caramelized flavors of the cheese harmonize with the beer’s malt profile. It’s also worth trying quadrupel with some traditional Dutch stews, like “zuurkoolstamppot” (sauerkraut and mashed potatoes) or “hutspot” (mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions). These hearty and flavorful dishes bring out the best in both the food and the beer, making for a truly enjoyable culinary experience.
By understanding how quadrupel pairs with various food options, you can create unforgettable dining moments. Remember to explore and experiment to fully discover the incredible synergy between this powerful Belgian beer and your favorite dishes.
Comparisons with Other Beer Styles
The Belgian Dubbel is a less intense beer style compared to the Quadrupel. Dubbels are typically dark, with a rich and malty flavor profile, but lower in alcohol content (ranging from 6% to 8%). Both Quadrupels and Dubbels are part of the Trappist brewing tradition, though Quadrupels have higher alcohol by volume (ABV) and a more complex flavor.
Tripel beers are another Belgian Trappist style. They are lighter in color and have a higher ABV than Dubbels, usually ranging between 8% and 12%. Like Quadrupels, Tripels are complex and flavorful, but Tripels tend to be brighter and fruitier in taste. In comparison, Quadrupels are darker and richer, providing an even more intense experience.
Belgian Blond Ales are pale, refreshing beers with a lower ABV (around 4.5% to 7%). Compared to Quadrupels, Blond Ales are lighter in body and flavor, making them more approachable for casual beer drinkers. Their taste is usually characterized by fruity and spicy notes, while Quadrupels lean more towards a rich, malty profile with hints of dark fruits.
The Dunkel is a German-style beer that shares a few similarities with Quadrupels in terms of appearance, with both styles having a dark, reddish-brown hue. However, Dunkels have a much lower ABV (around 4.5% to 6%), and their taste is characterized by malty sweetness with hints of caramel and toasted bread. In contrast, Quadrupels boast a higher ABV and a more complex, intense flavor profile.
Belgian Red beers are characterized by their deep red color and fruity, slightly tart taste. They have a medium body and a lower ABV (around 5% to 6.5%) compared to Quadrupels. Red beers are typically more approachable for the casual beer drinker but do not offer the rich, complex flavors found in Quadrupels.
Key Beer Metrics
Quadrupel, often referred to as a Quad, is a strong and complex Belgian-style beer known for its rich flavor profile and high alcohol content. It is typically characterized by its dark fruit flavors, spicy yeast notes, and a full-bodied mouthfeel. In this section, we will discuss some key metrics that define this unique style of beer, including its alcohol content (ABV), bitterness (IBU), and other significant characteristics.
The alcohol content in Quadrupel beers usually ranges from 9 to 12% ABV or higher. This high ABV is achieved through traditional ale fermentation with top-fermenting yeast and barrel aging, which also contributes to the development of its flavors and reddish, dark hue. Due to its high ABV, the heat of alcohol may be noticeable when enjoying a Quad, making it a beer to be savored and not consumed quickly1.
An interesting fact about Quadrupel beers is their bitterness level measured in International Bitterness Units (IBU). Despite their rich maltiness and sweetness, Quadrupel beers maintain a balanced flavor profile, with hop bitterness ranging between 15 to 25 IBU2. This relatively low bitterness helps to keep the beer’s malt sweetness from becoming cloying.
To better understand the characteristics of Quadrupel beers, let’s take a look at some of the most popular examples:
- La Trappe Quadrupel3: The original Quadrupel beer, brewed by De Koningshoeven Brewery in the Netherlands. It boasts a full-bodied mouthfeel, notes of caramel, dark fruits, and spices, along with a warming 10% ABV.
- St. Bernardus Abt 124: Another well-known example of the style, this Belgian Quadrupel features rich flavors of raisins, plums, and toffee, coupled with a 10.0% ABV and smooth finish.
- Rochefort 105: A highly regarded Trappist Quad, this beer showcases complex flavors such as dark chocolate, dried fruits, and spices. It has an ABV of 11.3% and an IBU of 27, making it a very potent and flavorful brew.
In summary, Quadrupel beers stand out for their high alcohol content, relatively low bitterness, and complex flavor profiles. They are full-bodied, dark, and warming, making them ideal for sipping and savoring during colder months or special occasions.
Quadrupel, often referred to as “Quad,” is a dark, complex, and robust beer that boasts a rich malt profile, dark fruit flavors, and spicy notes. This beer style originates from the Trappist brewing tradition in Belgium, with La Trappe Quadrupel from De Koningshoeven Brewery being one of the first and most notable examples.
The strength of Quadrupel beers typically lies in their high ABV, often ranging between 12 – 22%. Consequently, these beers are best enjoyed at slightly warmer serving temperatures, around 55 – 57° F, in specific glassware like snifters or tulips to enhance the aroma and flavor experience.
When it comes to appearance, Quadrupel beers showcase an intriguing palette of colors, from garnet to brown. The rich, sweet malt character is beautifully complemented by fruity esters and moderately spicy phenols, making it a classic choice for beer aficionados seeking depth and complexity in their brews.
In summary, the Quadrupel beer style offers beer enthusiasts a unique and rewarding drinking experience. Its origins in the Trappist brewing tradition and the emphasis on carefully crafted flavors make it an iconic beer choice. So, next time you’re in the mood for a strong and intriguing beer, remember to consider the enchanting world of Quadrupel ales.
Quadrupel, also known as Quad, is a strong Belgian beer style that originated from the Trappist and Abbey ales. The name Quadrupel was first used by De Koningshoeven Brewery in the Netherlands for their La Trappe Quadrupel beer. Quadrupels are characterized by their high alcohol content, often exceeding 10% ABV, and their rich, complex flavors that develop over time.
The appearance of a Quadrupel beer typically ranges from amber to dark brown, with a medium to full body, and a creamy texture. Despite their high alcohol content, the warmth from the alcohol is smooth and not sharp, adding to the overall drinking experience. The flavors found in this beer style include dark fruits, caramel, and spices, with a mild hoppiness and sweetness (Absolute Beer).
Quadrupels are part of the Belgian Trappist beer tradition, which is a result of monastic breweries crafting strong ales for centuries. The name Quadrupel suggests it is stronger and richer than its counterparts — Dubbel and Tripel beers. The popularity of this beer style has grown, and many breweries around the world now produce their own versions of the Quadrupel (Truly Experiences).
When drinking a Quadrupel, it is important to keep in mind that their high alcohol content can be deceiving due to their smooth flavors, so it is advised to consume them responsibly (Renegade Brewing). With their rich and complex taste profile, Quadrupels are ideal for sipping and savoring as a dessert beer or for pairing with hearty dishes like roasted meats, aged cheeses, and chocolate.
In summary, the Quadrupel is a distinctive and strong beer style characterized by its rich, complex flavors, high alcohol content, and Belgian Trappist brewing heritage. The popularity of this style has grown beyond the monastic breweries, with many craft breweries now producing their interpretations of the classic Quadrupel.