63 of the Best Belgian Style Ales, Blind-Tasted and Ranked
How We Taste & Test Beers
Composed entirely of Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judges who have all studied, trained, and been tested on their ability to discern characteristics in beer, our panel is independent and doesn’t include any CB&B editors or staff. The panel tastes all beer blindly—they do not know what brands and beers they are tasting until the tasting is complete.
Our goal is to inform you about the strengths and weaknesses of these beers as well as their relative differences (not everyone has the same taste in beer, so accurate descriptors are more valuable than straight numerical values). The quotes you see in the reviews are compiled from the review panel’s score sheets to give you a well-rounded picture of the beer.
As our reviewers judge, they score based on the standard BJCP components: Aroma (max 12 points), Appearance (max 3 points), Flavor (max 20 points), Mouthfeel (max 5 points), and Overall Impression (max 10 points). We’ve listed these individual component scores, and the bottom-line number is derived from adding then doubling these component scores to produce a rating on a 100-point scale. Note that we round the component scores to the nearest whole number, so the math won’t necessarily add up.
Our judges use the following scale in valuing scores:
95–100 » Extraordinary World-class beers of superlative character and flawless execution
90–94 » Exceptional Distinguished beers with special character, style, and flavor
85–89 » Very good Well-crafted beers with noteworthy flavor and style
80–84 » Good Solid, quality, enjoyable beers
75–79 » Above Average Drinkable and satisfactory beers with minor flaws or style deviations
50–74 » Not recommended
We’d like for you to keep one thing in mind as you read our reviews: Your perception of a beer is more important than that of our review panel or editorial staff. Reading reviews—on the Web, in a magazine, or in a book—is no substitute for trying the beer yourself.
Left Coast Brewing Company Asylum (74)
Strongly oxidized—sherry, cardboard, and peanuts. Big rich malt centered on melanoidin and caramel with some fruit and spicy alcohol notes, but not much of the usual pepper-spice character. Sweet malt character lingers into the finish with a bit of bitterness. Needs more carbonation. The biscuit and oxidized character deliver a competing dryness that helps to balance things out somewhat.
Brouwerij Het Anker Gouden Carolus Tripel (79)
Sweet honey malt and spice. Floral hops and unusually floral esters give this tripel a highly unusual personality. A mild, but obvious hops flavor. Strong orange citrus quality. Black- pepper notes. Some oxidation.
Victory Brewing Company Golden Monkey (82)
Sweet toasted-caramel malt, big sour lemon-drop candy, moderate medicinal phenol, and assertive alcohol character without being hot, followed by a long finish that fades into a pleasant back-of-the-tongue bitterness. A bit heavy, but not unpleasantly so.
River North Brewery Quandary (82)
Moderate sweet caramel malt is overtaken by flavors of green apple, raisin, date, and pear. A slight astringency lends a bit of tartness to the dry finish. Bright and citrusy up front with almost grapefruit-like notes. Slight phenolic, plastic character. Mild alcohol note toward the end of the sip but for the most part smooth. Aftertaste is slight alcohol and diminishes quickly. High carbonation levels help hide the alcohol. Medium body, finishes medium dry.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company Brother David’s Double Abbey-Style Ale (83)
Toasty malt sweetness, but also a fair amount of balancing hops, both bittering and flavor hops. Banana, some cherry, raisin, prune, and dark fruit notes with plenty of spicy phenols. Some alcohol warmth. Long, smooth, off-dry finish.
Tallgrass Brewing Company Velvet Rooster (85)
A more robust than usual malt foundation includes some faint caramel notes, Belgian yeast phenolics (green pepper and some plastic), and esters (banana and apples) deliver in the middle, along with a bit of grassiness, leading to a long finish that starts dry but suggests a bit of sweetness at the end. A warming alcohol presence, but carbonation is good. Some floral hops character and a significant bitterness. The phenols are responsible for some of that, but there’s a lot of hops there, too.
Brasserie de Rochefort Trappistes Rochefort 6 (85)
The typical ‘Belgian’ ester profile is replaced with lighter fresh fruit. Medium citrus in the background. There’s a strong honey component that comes off more as a sensation than as actual sweetness on the tongue. A nice smooth finish makes this beer go down more easily than it objectively ought to. Aftertaste is filled with bubblegum-like notes and is medium lasting.
Brouwerij Dilewyns Vicaris Tripel (86)
More Concord grape jelly along with some grainy sweetness. Mild clove phenol along with some alcohol dryness. Spicy, herbal hops bitterness melds with the yeast expression and high cara- bonation to lead to a long, cleansing, balanced finish. The alcohol presence is very fruity.
Hobbybrouwerij Het Nest Jack Of Spades (86)
The flavor is more interesting than the nose. Subtle banana and restrained black pepper followed by a strong herbal hops presence that comes paired with hints of black tea. Minimal fruit flavors, but a strong phenolic yeast profile. Good carbonation that comes off more creamy than carbonic.
Deschutes Brewery The Stoic (86)
A punch of sweet dark fruit (cherry, plum, prune, raisin) and some banana and malt sweetness up front quickly mellow to let some barrel shine through. Malt sweetness is cut with a lemony tartness. The fruit flavors are reminiscent of Raisinettes, which is never a bad thing. However, as it warms, this begins to come off a touch cough-syrupy because of the assertive spicy clove and pepper phenols.
Brewery Ommegang Three Philosophers (86)
Malt sweetness and apple fruity ester flavors give way to a dry, spicy, bitterness that lingers all the way through to finish. Medium body. Sweet cherry, pear, fruit sweetness. Some earthy spice adds to the beer. Alcohol warmth is present from the start through the finish with high carbonation. Almost as much phenolic as esters, which makes it harder to discern the other aspects of the beer.
Brouwerij Westmalle Tripel (87)
Classic Concord grapes are first on the tongue, followed by pineapple and banana. There’s a bit of black pepper that wasn’t in the aroma. Curiously, the flavor suggests Nelson Sauvin hops. Me- dium-high carbonation works well with the other elements. Very dry finish. The malt profile leans toward toasty caramel and mild hops flavor. Floral notes.
Heavy Seas Beer Phantom Ship (87)
Nice blend of bready sweetness with enough vanilla and coconut to let you know there was a barrel. A good peppery phenol. Orange, slight lemon, candied pineapple, caramel apple, and dried banana flavors. Floral hops help to cut the sweetness. Medium carbonation helps to dry the beer out in the finish. Simple malt character is balanced with equally simple bitterness.
Weyerbacher Brewing Co. Merry Monks (88)
Banana and bubblegum. Citrus fruity and tree-fruit esters as well as some clove spicy phenolic. Sweet honey malt that’s cut beautifully with the crisp carbonation and fruity alcohol presence. Balance definitely leans to the sweet side, bordering on cloying.
Brouwerij Affligem Affligem Dubbel (88)
Strong sweetness carries through this beer with fruit character that evokes cherry, apple, some plum, and raisin. Sweet toffee, toast, and bread malt notes underneath with a definite balance toward the malt. Sweetness blends smoothly and stays on the tongue with a low alcohol warmth, but the finish is relatively dry. Slight oxidation. High carbonation detracts a bit from enjoying the full flavor profile.
Boulevard Brewing Long Strange Tripel (88)
Initially sweet and spicy with some citrus. Appropriate level of bitterness and carbonation. Grain malt sweetness followed by restrained but obvious esters of bubblegum and ba- nanas and a touch of lemon peel. Floral hops flavor followed by a not unpleasant bitterness. Off-dry finish could benefit from just a smidge more attenuation. High carbonation, and the beer finishes with a fruity alcohol kick.
Brewery Ommegang Gnomegang (89)
Pineapple juice! OMG, it’s the Dole plantation. Not exactly a tripel, but the flavor is intriguing. Tropical fruits dominate, with a little caramel in the background to support it without overdoing it. Tastes like alcoholic fruit cocktail with fun Belgian phenolics (black pepper, clove, hints of leather and tobacco). Very restrained bitterness provides balance.
Devils Backbone Brewing Company Dark Abby (89)
Bubblegum and more bubblegum. There’s an enjoyable deep caramel character, and the fruit esters are pleasant—dried fruit with some tropical notes—but it’s hard to get past those bubblegum esters. This beer could use some additional bitterness or carbonation to balance. As it warms, the sweetness starts to go away and is replaced by more spicy notes.
Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven La Trappe Quadrupel (89)
Rich malt flavor for the backbone, with hints of biscuit and caramel. Lighter fruit character, mainly cherry, apple, peach, and pear but some raisin. An earthy spice character adds complexity. Lots of alcohol warmth. High carbonation helps dry the beer out in the finish. A hint of hops bitterness for balance, but finish is slightly sweet.
Brewery Ommegang Abbey Ale (90)
Some caramel, banana, and clove. Sweet malt with a somewhat dry finish. High carbonation with plum and raisin notes. Slight alcohol bite as it goes into the aftertaste. Curious lime-like notes as well create an unexpected but enjoyable fruity bright note.
Brasserie de la Senne Jambe De Bois (90)
Fresh juicy fruit (lime and lemon) flavors balanced by a nice floral lingering hops bitterness. Spicy phenols of pepper and light clove are notable in the aftertaste. Low level of malt. Pilsner malt backbone finishes dry. The carbonation is spot on but the floral hops are a little strange for the style.
Brouwerij St. Bernardus Abt 12 (90)
High fruitiness with rich dark fruits of plum, cherry, and raisins. Slight phenolics balance well with the fruit. Aftertaste is fruity with slight alcohol note. Toasty and biscuit malt sweetness. Nice smoothness in this beer. Some slight Noble hops bitterness and earth- iness help to cut the sweet. Subtle malt sweetness and light fruity character are overtaken by a rather strong spicy Noble hops flavor and bitterness.
Smuttynose Brewing Company Gravitation (90)
Nice fruit sweetness with pear, some apple, and plum, and nice malt character and sweetness with some car- amel and slight toffee, with a very subtle hint of spice. Moderate carbonation and a nice warming in the background. Balance is pretty good, though light and relatively simple.
Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel Rigor Mortis ABT (90)
Lots of rich, sweet, robust malt flavors with decent Belgian candi sugar lending notes of caramel and toffee. Dark fruit esters (mostly plum, cherry, raisin, and date) with just a hint of bitterness for balance. A moderately sweet finish. Moderate carbonation and a touch of alcohol warming. Good hops flavor with earthy and spicy notes. Nice warmth but stays sweet.
Smuttynose Brewing Company Tripel (91)
Bigger than usual malt back- ground with a little more caramel flavor than expected, but sufficiently balanced by the moderate spicy hops bitterness. The typical banana esters and clove phenols round out the palate. Moderate carbonation and moderate body, plus a medium alcohol note that continues through the aftertaste.
The Lost Abbey Lost & Found Abbey Ale (91)
Mid-level malts supply caramel and toffee while the fruit esters (cherry and peach) are subdued. This beer seems to be nicely balanced between malt sweetness and hops bitterness without the third dimension of yeast complexity. High grape notes with a touch of alcohol. Fruit notes transition from grape to banana as it warms. Light tartness in the finish. Medium alcohol balances with the moderate body. Medi- um carbonation and a touch of smoke.
Brouwerij Westmalle Westmalle Trappist Dubbel (91)
Sweet malt (caramel, toffee, and raisins) up front. Very fruity with notes of cherry mixed with a moderate alcohol note. Slight spicy hops note lingers into the aftertaste. Moderate carbonation creates a slight carbonic bite. More tequila in the flavor as well, plus black pepper and Szechuan peppercorn.
The Lost Abbey Judgment Day (91)
Lots of caramel almost bordering on burnt caramel. Great malt sweetness with lots of dark fruit tones: cherry, raisin, prune, dates, and plum. Some slight bitterness which keeps it from getting too sweet. The alcohol warmth in the finish helps to round out this beer. Slight peppery phenolics. The beer is big and sits on the tongue and lingers.
Schlafly / The Saint Louis Brewery Quadrupel (91)
Big dark fruit comes through in the front: plum, prune, raisin, fig, cherry, some pear, red and green apple, and a hint of apricot. A bit of caramel and toffee sweetness, but mostly fruit. Slight spicy notes toward the end, perhaps clove. Finishes sweet. High alcohol up front that almost borders on hot.
Boulevard Brewing Co. The Sixth Glass (92)
Biscuity malt and fruit mingle nicely with notes of white bread, cara- mel, red apple, cherry, and plum. Finish is pleasantly balanced, considering the richness of the malt, making it very drinkable. Nice alcohol warmth to help the beer finish dry and medium-high carbonation level. Properly balanced.
Unibroue La Fin Du Monde (93)
We are in the wit zone! Solid blend of coriander and orange, with some good spicy phenols and a pleasantly dry finish. The orange also moderates the malty sweetness. Very similar taste to the aroma: citrus, bananas, cloves, black pepper, and even a touch of pineapple. High carbonation helps to provide a cleansing finish. Alcohol presence is fruity, but otherwise well hidden. Spicy hops flavor is subtle.
Schlafly / The Saint Louis Brewery Tripel (93)
Rich caramel malt coupled with moderately strong peppery spice, generally fruity, but hard to identify the esters. Alcohol is big and warming. Nice dry finish. The barnyard continues and the subtle goatiness is complemented by a lovely caramel malt backbone with some herbal, spicy hops flavors. Ginger adds interest. The finish is balanced and invites another sip.
New Belgium Brewing Trippel (93)
“Our Trippel opens with a bold blast of hops that slowly gives way to the fruity esters from our Belgian yeast strain. Remarkably smooth and complex, bottle-conditioned Trippel is spiced with a trace of coriander.”
Bières de Chimay Chimay Red (93)
Moderate sweetness up front with notes of honey or light molasses, which extend into the aftertaste with notes of banana and a little plum. Nice dried apricot flavor. Light bitterness in the background. Medium carbonation with a moderate body and a slight alco- hol note toward the end that is comple- mentary. The bitterness-to-sweetness balance is spot on.
Brouwerij Westvleteren Westvleteren 8 (93)
A classic dubbel flavor profile, replete with raisins, toffee, bananas, and a touch of clove. High carbonation, but smooth nonetheless. Carbonic bite is a little overpowering, though. Rich malt base, overlaid with dark fruit esters, and a dry finish.
Brouwerij St. Bernardus St. Bernardus Prior 8 (93)
A spot-on flavor profile for a dubbel with fruit esters (light raisins, banana, and clove) that dominate, but don’t overwhelm the satisfying deep malt body. Hops bitterness is moderate but sufficient to balance the beer. High carbonation. The flavor is much bigger than the aroma suggests.
Funkwerks Quad (93)
Rich, dark caramel-malt sweetness up front with a slight chewy note. Dark-fruit notes of cherry, plum, prune, and raisin, as well as apple and pear. Medium hops spicy note in the middle. A bit sweet, but otherwise the finish is relatively dry. Moderately carbonated. Well-balanced fruit, spice, and body.
St. Bernardus Tripel (94)
Crisp! This beer exhibits a lovely crispness that sticks with you as it goes down. Nice blend of banana and citrus esters balanced by carbonation and sharp hops bitterness. The aromatic promises are fully delivered: lemon on the back of the tongue and spices near the front. A dark rich sweetness reminis- cent of a dark honey. A touch more fully bodied than expected, but the beer is so crisp that it works.
Brasserie Dubuisson Scaldis Blond Ale Triple (94)
Grainy sweetness combined with a fruity alcoholic kick. The bananas, grape, and bubblegum suggested in the aroma live through to see the flavor. Hints of cloves, honey, and smoke round out the flavor. The high carbonation prompts another sip. Nonexistent hops flavor leaves room for a fullness in the finish that goes down smoothly and with a well-balanced bitterness.
Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat Maredsous 10 Tripel (94)
Despite the conservative aroma, the flavor is very agreeable. Graham-cracker malt followed by fruity esters of banana, pineapple, and apple. A slight wine note plus a hint of phenolic character that suggests green pepper and cloves. Subtle alcoholic warmth and generous but appropriate carbonation lead to a gentle but satisfying finish. Good level of bitterness.
Elevation Beer Co. Third Base (94)
First sip was very simple: mild malt sweetness along with a light fruit (orange) and faint phenol. Second taste offered more spicy character, much of it from alcohol, although it’s not hot. Herbal hops notes with subtle bitterness, but very little is required to balance this beer—alcohol and carbonation take care of that. Fairly sweet, a bit like a honey-tinged cider. Lower carbonation than you’d expect.
Elevation Beer Co. Apis IV (94)
Malt dominates, mostly caramel and toffee from darker crystal malts. Well-blended, dark stone fruit (plum, cherry, prune, raisin). Medium carbonation and a mild alcohol warmth. Some spicy hops character. Good blend, finishes a touch sweet, but easy drinking.
Boston Beer Company / Sam Adams Tetravis (94)
Strong malt sweetness with toast, chocolate, caramel, and lightly burnt sugar, and nice dark fruit: cherry, plum, and prune/ raisin. There is a pleasant, but slightly understated barrel character, with a light vanilla and oak character. Finishes slightly sweet with a nice warmth. Alcohol adds some spicy warmth and dries out the finish.
Funkwerks Bourbon Barrel Quad (94)
Strong cherry with some plum, raisin, and prune. Sweet maltiness with notes of chocolate. Warm in the end with slight alcohol burn. Fairly sweet, but alcohol dries out the finish. A slight minerality adds a nice dimension and lends an interesting effervescence for such a rich and dark beer. A touch light for the style, so the fruitiness runs away with it, but still very pleasant.
Allagash Brewing Company Allagash Dubbel Ale (95)
“Allagash Dubbel boasts a deep red color and a complex malty taste. The finish is dry with hints of chocolate and nuts. The yeast asserts itself by lending a classic Belgian fruitiness.”
Brouwerij der St. Benedictusabdij de Achelse Achel Bruin (95)
A rounded malt foundation of toffee and raisins gives way to an unusual, but pleasantly different suit of fruit (bananas, cherries, plums) and spice (cloves). Some crisp hops bitterness to balance. Finishes dry.
Bières De Chimay Chimay White (95)
“The golden color, slightly hazy appearance, and fine head are characteristic of the style. The attractive aroma and flavor have the fruity notes of muscat and raisins.”
Allagash Brewing Company Four (95)
Delicate malt sweetness with slight toffee and some caramel. Nice fruit character (cherry, citrus, pear, apple, prune, raisin). Not a lot of hops flavor but bitterness comes through nicely with the somewhat dry, crisp finish. Nice carbonation adds to the mouthfeel and finish. Slight warmth at the end adds to the complexity.
New Belgium Brewing Abbey (96)
The flavor is classic dubbel. All of the aromatics (banana, clove, caramel, and a kiss of honey) are there, along with just enough background hops bitterness to provide support. Alcohol is evident but not intrusive.
Allagash Brewing Company Allagash Tripel Ale (96)
Crisp carbonic character compliments the spice notes of clove, banana, and pepper. An unusual Belgian yeast profile offers lychee, peach, and a little bit of spice. Malt is there, but in a supporting role. Herbal/grassy hops flavor is moderate and more British than Continental. Tends toward the sweeter side of the style.
Brouwerij Dilewyns Vicaris Generaal (96)
Rich, sweet maltiness in the front. Some slight caramel and chocolate-malt flavors with prune, raisin, plum, and apple fruit character. Some earthy pepper-like spice character. High carbonation. The esters and mild alcohol complement the malt. Finishes pretty dry and slightly tart (the high carbonation contributes).
Boston Beer Company / Samuel Adams New World Tripel (97)
Solid wood character includes vanilla sweet notes that mellow the light tartness from orange esters. Pineapple, cherry, and banana esters are prominent with earthy floral hops. Bready Pilsner malt and clove and pepper phenols. Finishes dry with medium-high alcohol warmth. Well-balanced for the style, though hops are very subdued.
Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel (98)
A mix of toffee, burnt caramel, and pale malt sweetness with a nice raisin, prune, and date fruit character. Finish is predominately sweet, but not entirely out of balance. Mild to moderate chocolate and roast character complement the dry finish Some bitterness in the finish to help cut the sweetness. Nice alcohol warming. Aftertaste is fruity with slight warming quality.
Deep Ellum Brewing Company Four Swords (98)
Sweet malt flavors up front with hints of caramel, toffee, and Belgian candi sugar, well supported by a fruity ester note of raisin, date, plum, low banana, and slight licorice. That’s all balanced by a decent hops bitterness and a bit of heat and alcohol sweetness that seem to highlight pepper phenolics. Medium carbonation and a big body.
Brouwerij Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet (99)
Very much follows the nose. Honey-like malt sweetness when it first hits, but waves of pepper and clove phenols and banana esters merge with a lightly herbal hops presence for a cleansing finish. Finishes off-dry with a pleasing good carbonic bite and reassuring alcoholic warmth. Malt lingers into the finish, along with some of that honey sweetness. Crisp and refreshing.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Stickee Monkee (99)
Flavor delivers on the nose: intense barrel notes, with the chocolate and vanilla turned up to eleven. Sweet cherry and raisin/dark fruit blend well with the barrel. Great mix of mild phenols, evocative esters, and alcohol warmth. Nice sherry character.
Victory Brewing Company V Twelve (99)
Malt sweetness with lots fruit sweetness (apricot, pineapple, slight banana). Over-the-top flavor hops make it almost more like an imperial IPA or American barleywine than a Belgian-style quad. Slightly smoky phenolics. Hops linger well into the af- tertaste with grapefruit and bitterness. Deep layers of flavors from the hops, malt, and yeast.
Avery Brewing Company The Reverend (99)
Rich blend of bready malt and the fruity sweetness of cherry, apple, and pear. Alcohol and carbonation are well integrated with a creamy mouthfeel throughout. Some earthy spice adds to this beer. Solid body to balance out the high carbonation and a slight alcohol warming toward the end of the sip. Well-balanced, clean finish, leaning a bit on the sweeter side, but enough bitterness to keep it in check.
Weyerbacher Brewing Co. Blasphemy (99)
Rich caramel and toffee malt sweetness complement the vanilla, bourbon, oak, brown sugar, and coconut of the barrel nicely. Nice dark fruit character with cherry, plum, raisin, fig, some red apple, and maybe a touch of strawberry. Medium alcohol that is warming but not hot...yet.
Left Coast Brewing Company Barrel-Aged Asylum (99)
As in the aroma, so in the flavor—so much barrel! And what a beautiful use of a barrel—there is enough sweetness to balance the intense vanilla, coconut, chocolate, and light coffee, but that overpowers the tripel-ness. Some nice orange, with spicy hops character and peppery phenolics underneath. Nice carbonation with strong alcohol warmth.
Brouwerij Westvleteren Trappist Westvleteren 12 (100)
Tastes like sweet raisin bread. Very rich and complex, with moderate carbonation. Malt sweetness with toast, some biscuit. Lots of dark fruit with prune, dates, and raisin, and slight cherry. Nice alcohol warmth and not too sweet in the finish. Very similar to an old ale. An alcohol that is just enough to say it was there. Shows a bit of age, with a hint of sherry, but that adds to the complexity.
Brasserie de Rochefort Trappistes Rochefort 10 (100)
Nice mingling between caramel and toffee notes from the malt and raisin, plum, and date esters. Slight chocolate. High carbonation creates a bit of a bite. Alcohol is present but not hot. Finish is balanced, with just a hint of sweetness that lingers. Again, port and sherry highlights suggest aging.
Perennial Artisan Ales 4 Happiness (100)
Malt flavors of chocolate, cacao, caramel, slight roast. Fruit sweetness of bold cherry, raisin, plum, prune, some apple. It’s sweet, but a tart lactic undercurrent balances it. The warmth adds complexity and does not cut the sweet. There’s a definite vinous element. The intense juicy tart cherry and dark chocolate make it taste like a liquid cherry cordial.