Belgian Dubbel vs. Belgian Tripel: A Tale of Two Trappists

Hey there, beer aficionados! Ever wondered about the differences between Belgian Dubbels and Tripels? These two Trappist ales are like siblings with distinct personalities—both delicious but offering unique experiences.

Let’s dive into the world of Belgian Dubbels and Tripels and discover what makes each one special.

History and Background

Origins of the Belgian Dubbel

The Belgian Dubbel traces its roots back to the Middle Ages, crafted by Trappist monks.

The style was revived in the mid-19th century by the Westmalle Abbey, where the first modern Dubbel was brewed. Think of it as a classic novel—rich in history and full of depth.

Development of the Belgian Tripel

Belgian Tripels were introduced in the early 20th century by the same monks at Westmalle Abbey, aiming for a stronger, lighter-colored beer.

The first Tripel was brewed in 1934, and it’s been a beloved style ever since. Imagine it as a thrilling sequel—lighter, more vibrant, and just as compelling.

Key Influences and Milestones

Both styles have influenced the craft beer movement significantly. The Trappist tradition continues to inspire brewers worldwide, with Dubbels and Tripels setting high standards for complexity and craftsmanship.

Characteristics of Belgian Dubbels


Belgian Dubbels typically have a deep amber to brown color with excellent clarity and a creamy, off-white head. They look as rich and inviting as a cozy autumn evening.


Expect aromas of dark fruit, caramel, and a hint of spice. It’s like walking through a market filled with dried fruits and spices—warm, sweet, and comforting.

Flavor Profile

Dubbels offer a complex flavor with notes of raisin, fig, caramel, and mild spiciness from the yeast. Each sip is a rich tapestry of flavors, like a decadent dessert with layers of taste.


These beers have a medium to full body with moderate carbonation, providing a smooth and slightly warming mouthfeel. It’s like sipping on a luxurious hot chocolate—smooth, rich, and deeply satisfying.

Notable Examples and Breweries

Iconic examples include Westmalle Dubbel, Chimay Red, and Rochefort 6. These breweries have perfected the art of the Dubbel—classic, reliable, and deeply enjoyable.

Characteristics of Belgian Tripels


Belgian Tripels are typically golden to pale amber, with a brilliant clarity and a frothy white head. They look as bright and inviting as a sunny afternoon.


Expect aromas of citrus, pear, and floral notes, with a touch of spicy yeast. It’s like walking through a citrus grove in full bloom—fresh, vibrant, and uplifting.

Flavor Profile

Tripels offer a complex flavor with notes of fruit, honey, and spice, balanced by a mild hop bitterness. Each sip is like a symphony of flavors, bright and harmonious.


These beers have a medium body with high carbonation, providing a crisp and effervescent mouthfeel. It’s like enjoying a sparkling wine—light, bubbly, and refreshing.

Notable Examples and Breweries

Standout examples include Westmalle Tripel, Chimay White, and La Trappe Tripel. These breweries capture the essence of the Tripel—light, balanced, and wonderfully drinkable.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Visual Comparison of Appearance

When you pour a Belgian Dubbel and a Tripel side by side, the difference is clear. The Dubbel’s rich amber hue contrasts with the Tripel’s golden glow. It’s like comparing a cozy fireplace to a bright sunrise—both beautiful, but in different ways.

Comparative Analysis of Aroma and Flavor Profiles

Taking a whiff of each reveals the Dubbel’s dark fruit and caramel notes versus the Tripel’s citrus and floral aromas.

Tasting them shows the Dubbel’s rich, sweet complexity against the Tripel’s bright, fruity profile.

Differences in Brewing Techniques and Ingredients

Dubbels are brewed with darker malts and often include candi sugar, giving them their rich color and sweet flavor.

Tripels use lighter malts and higher fermentation temperatures, resulting in a stronger, lighter beer with a higher alcohol content.

Overall Experience and Mouthfeel Comparison

Drinking a Dubbel is like enjoying a rich dessert—decadent and satisfying. A Tripel, on the other hand, feels like sipping on a fine champagne—light, crisp, and celebratory.

Popular Commercial Examples

Belgian Dubbels

1. Westmalle Dubbel

Westmalle Dubbel is a rich, dark ale with notes of caramel, toffee, and dark fruit. It’s like enjoying a slice of fruitcake—dense, flavorful, and deeply satisfying.

2. Chimay Red

Chimay Red offers a complex profile of raisin, plum, and spicy yeast. Imagine indulging in a spiced fruit compote—sweet, spicy, and perfectly balanced.

3. Rochefort 6

Rochefort 6 boasts flavors of fig, caramel, and subtle spices. Think of it as a luxurious dessert in a glass—rich, decadent, and utterly delightful.

Belgian Tripels

1. Westmalle Tripel

Westmalle Tripel is golden and effervescent, with flavors of citrus, pear, and spice. It’s like sipping a fine sparkling wine—light, crisp, and celebratory.

2. Chimay White

Chimay White features a fruity and spicy profile with notes of apple, pear, and clove. Imagine enjoying a fresh fruit tart—bright, fruity, and refreshingly balanced.

3. La Trappe Tripel

La Trappe Tripel offers a harmonious blend of honey, fruit, and mild hops. It’s like savoring a honey-drizzled pastry—sweet, delicate, and wonderfully satisfying.

Pairing Belgian Dubbels and Tripels with Food

Best Food Pairings for Belgian Dubbels

Belgian Dubbels pair wonderfully with rich, savory dishes. Here are some pairing ideas:

  • Roast Lamb: The malt sweetness complements the savory, rich flavors of roast lamb.
  • Beef Stew: The dark fruit notes enhance the deep, hearty flavors of a beef stew.
  • Blue Cheese: The sweet and spicy profile balances the intense flavors of blue cheese.

Best Food Pairings for Belgian Tripels

Belgian Tripels are versatile and pair well with a variety of dishes. Here are some pairing ideas:

  • Seafood: The light, fruity flavors of Tripels complement the delicate taste of seafood.
  • Spicy Dishes: The crisp, effervescent quality balances the heat of spicy foods.
  • Creamy Cheeses: The bright, fruity notes cut through the richness of creamy cheeses.

Homebrewing Belgian Dubbels and Tripels

Basic Recipes for Each Style

Belgian Dubbel Recipe

  • Ingredients:
  • Pale malt
  • Munich malt
  • Dark candi sugar
  • Noble hops (like Hallertau)
  • Belgian yeast
  • Water


  1. Mash the grains at 150°F (65°C) for 60 minutes.
  2. Boil the wort, adding hops for bitterness and aroma.
  3. Cool the wort and pitch the yeast.
  4. Ferment at 68°F (20°C) for about two weeks.
  5. Bottle or keg, carbonate, and enjoy!

Belgian Tripel Recipe

  • Ingredients:
  • Pilsner malt
  • Sugar
  • Noble hops (like Saaz)
  • Belgian yeast
  • Water


  1. Mash the grains at 148°F (64°C) for 60 minutes.
  2. Boil the wort, adding hops for bitterness and aroma.
  3. Cool the wort and pitch the yeast.
  4. Ferment at 68°F (20°C) for about two weeks.
  5. Bottle or keg, carbonate, and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks

  • Belgian Dubbel: Use high-quality dark candi sugar for authentic flavors. Ensure a steady fermentation temperature to avoid off-flavors.
  • Belgian Tripel: Use sugar to lighten the body and increase alcohol content. Maintain proper yeast management for a clean, crisp finish.

Common Challenges

  • Belgian Dubbel: Achieving the right balance of malt sweetness and yeast character can be tricky. Use high-quality ingredients and control fermentation temperatures.
  • Belgian Tripel: Maintaining clarity and a clean flavor profile requires careful brewing techniques. Use proper yeast management and avoid over-sweetness.

Trends in Belgian Dubbel and Tripel Styles

Current Trends

Both Belgian Dubbels and Tripels are experiencing renewed interest as craft brewers explore traditional styles with modern twists. Experimentation with different yeast strains and aging processes is adding new dimensions to these classic beers.

Future Predictions

Expect more innovation within these styles, with brewers experimenting with unique ingredients and techniques. Sustainability and local sourcing will also play a significant role, with an emphasis on eco-friendly brewing practices.


To wrap things up, understanding the differences between Belgian Dubbel and Tripel can enhance your appreciation of these classic styles.

Whether you prefer the rich, dark complexity of a Dubbel or the bright, effervescent character of a Tripel, there’s a world of flavor to explore.

So next time you’re at the bar or brewing at home, try both styles and savor the unique characteristics of each. Cheers!

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