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Jul 7, 2014 02:44 AM

Beer myths, part 1

Rather than continuing the discussion about quadrupel in the travel to Belgium thread, I think it would be better to give it its own thread.

The Trappists fled to Belgium during the French Revolution when monasteries were taken over and eventually all religious orders were dissolved. The name Trappist, btw, comes from the French town of La Trappe.

After settling in Belgium, the Trappists did not offer beer for sale until the middle 19th century. Some had built small breweries to make beer for the monks consumption, but this beer was not intended for sale.

The first record of a beer sale was 1 June 1861 at Westmalle. It was for a barrel of beer. This barrel contained 300 liters of beer (a huge amount) and is believed to represent the full output of the brewery. A record from 1868 shows that the brewery produced 35-40 barrels of that size per year.

And that is how commercial brewing began at the Trappist monasteries in Belgium. The beer brewed in 1861 at Westmalle was not the same as the beer drunk by the monks (which they began making in 1836).

The Trappists were Catholics. They believed in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity. Not the Holy Quadrupel.

There is no mystery of how the beers got their 'names' (enkel, dubbel, tripel or single, double, triple). As time past, some of the Trappists introduced a second beer and then, in 1934 Westmalle introduced what at the time was called "Superbier". In 1956, that beer was modified and given the name Tripel.

And so, the Holy Trinity of beer was complete. And has remained complete since then.

There is indeed a beer named Quadrupel sold by a Trappist monastery in the Netherlands called 'Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven.' That monastery has a line of beers called La Trappe, named, of course, after the French town where the order began.

Unlike the Belgian Trappists, the Dutch are far more commercial. While no Belgian monastery makes more than three beers, Koningshoeven makes nine, including beers called Quadrupel and a second beer called Quadrupel Oak Aged (yes, in English). They also make a Bock beer. And earlier in the 20th century, they also offered soft drinks and other products.

It is perhaps not well known outside Europe, but Koningshoeven was removed from the Trappist brewing association for several years around the year 2000 for letting commercial brewers make their beers without any influence from the monks. Their beers are still made by the Dutch commercial brewer called Bavaria, but, in keeping with the rules of the Trappist association, it is said a monk now plays a more active roll.

It is, I suspect, the Quadrupel made by Koningshoeven that is now mistaken as being a sort of beer made by the other Trappist breweries in Belgium. That is not the case. The last time a new beer was added to the Belgian monasteries output was 1934 when the Tripel (not with that name) was born.

Since the Dutch monastery introduced the Quadrupel (I believe after the year 2000), not a single monastery in Belgium has changed their line. And no other monastery in Europe has adopted the name since the Catholic church is founded upon the idea of the Holy Trinity. Not the Holy Quadrupel.

As many of you can imagine, monastery life has changed considerably from the middle ages. Religion is no longer mandatory and, as a result, the monasteries in this part of Europe are having considerable trouble attracting new members. I believe at one point not very long ago, the monastery at Koningshoeven had only six monks left (and not all Europeans). I don't know how many there are now.

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  1. Your fact-packed post is easy to understand, and much appreciated on this site. Thank you for your good work.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tripeler

      You are quite welcome. I just hope that others here can open their minds, the way you seem to have, and recognize that exceptions do not make a rule.

    2. Informative post. How would you classify the beers released by the monasteries that are stronger than dubbels? Rochefort 10 or Westvlettran 12 for example?

      158 Replies
      1. re: MVNYC

        They are tripels. The idea that only a beer called a Tripel is a Tripel is no more correct than a beer called Quadrupel is a quadrupel.

        Didn't Michael Jackson describe a tripel as "the strongest beer in the house"? Or words to that effect?

        1. re: ThomasvanDale

          Then why are all beers marketed as Tripels generally lighter in color and body, dry and nicely spicy? The beers I mentioned above are darker, sweeter and completely different than say a Westmalle Tripel. I am not a slave to styles myself and think people obsess over them a little too much but referring to all of those beers as Tripels doesn't really help me get the beer I want.

          1. re: MVNYC

            I'm still confused that the Firestone Walker Stickee Monkee went from being a "English Barleywine" to a "Central Coast Quad".

            1. re: MVNYC

              Indeed. And how does one rectify these comments with Chimay's product line, where there is the Cinq Cents, blond and referred to by Chimay as a tripel, as well as the Grande Reserve, which is darker and sweeter?

              I guess I understand Thomas' point about the historical meaning of tripel as "strongest beer in the house", but that's pretty useless as a way to describe something. I understand, too, why Europeans dislike the BJCP categorizations, but at least they are useful, unlike simply lumping all the strong trappist ales together under the decidedly non-descriptive term "tripel".

              1. re: Josh

                In Britain, "Stout" used to mean the strongest beer in the house what 200 years ago?

                1. re: Chinon00

                  No. They were called "the strongest porter".

                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                    "The word “stout” did not originally refer to a dark beer. In the 1755 Dictionary of the English Language (four years before Arthur Guinness began brewing in Dublin, Ireland), Samuel Johnson called “stout” simply a slang name for strong beer, and well into the 18th century many brewery portfolios included both a pale stout and brown stout."
                    I have multiple sources.

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      You are quoting something, but leaving out the source of the quote. But, regardless, I don't understand what your point is, since we're not discussing British beer.

                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                        I believe Chinon's point is that the definition of a word can change over time

                        1. re: MVNYC

                          He's quite right. However, an auto does not become a house. A tree does not become a toaster. And the tripel did not become a quadrupel. In fact, quadrupel only came in the US vocabulary after the Koningshoeven beer by that name appeared. That is, in my view, a lot different from a tripel becoming a quadrupel.

                          Look at the sources and I think you'll have your answer.

                          1. re: ThomasvanDale

                            That really isn't an apt analogy as a car and a house are two separate objects. Tripel and Quadrupel are both terms to decribe strong Belgian ales. Words change meaning across time and language. As proto west Germanic became English specified words changed their meaning. Dog or docga referred to a specific type of hunting canid. Overtime this replaced the generic hundt or hound as it's known in modern English. Hence why in English we refer to most domesticated canids as dogs as opposed to hounds which refer specifically to our hunting dogs.


                2. re: Josh

                  First of all, it's not my point, it's Michael Jackson's point.

                  The whole point of the arguments here seems to be that styles are necessary for finding beers that someone may like.

                  When everyone agrees what a certain style is, and when all the brewers cooperate by making all beers according to these rules, then that might work. But, if there are exceptions to either of these conditions, then what? Aren't the forums of RB and BA filled with comments about "is this a stout or porter" "is this a tripel or quad" etc.?

                  What style is a Grande Réserve? According to BeerAdvocate there is no such thing. They call it a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. And if I look at Belgian Strong Dark Ales, they have examples as low as 7.7 percent alcohol and as high as 12 percent. How is that helpful?

                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                    I'd say it's helpful because there's more to a style than ABV:

                    You may not like the designation, but if you read that description and sample one of the beers listed as belonging to that style it's pretty easy to detect the similarities.

                3. re: MVNYC

                  Yeah if I love Trappist Westvleteren 12 and wanted something similar would calling it a tripel in 2016 gonna get me anywhere?

                  1. re: Chinon00

                    Take a look at the link you posted in the other thread. This one:

                    Now click on French and Dutch. Notice anything? Quadrupel disappears. That is, it's only there for the English-speakers. Like I mentioned several months ago: a Munich brewer darkens his Oktoberfest beer because the BJCP or one of their co-conspirators says it's not supposed to be blond.

                    And neither you or anyone else has responded to my point that the Dutch wikipedia does not list Quadrupel or Belgian strong dark ale or Belgian light dark ale or any of the other "styles" made up by the BJCP.

                    1. re: ThomasvanDale

                      But I clicked on the Dutch and French for other beers, and "dubbel" and "tripel" disappeared too.

                      1. re: Chinon00

                        I think I see what you mean. It's probably because the brewery realises that to English speaking people mention of a style is more important than to the French and Dutch speakers. Sort of what I've been saying.

                        1. re: ThomasvanDale

                          What about the Holy Trinity? French and Dutch don't care to recognize single, dubbel and tripel?

                  2. re: MVNYC

                    And where "are all beers marketed as Tripels generally lighter in color…"? Unfortunately, from what I know of the sources in the US (Ratebeer, Beeradvocate and BJCP), there seems to be only a single voice which is taken from (preferably) US sources. There is a very good guide to Belgian beer written in English, and published by CAMRA. It seems to be unknown by the three organisations I mentioned.

                    We have in my country now a second Trappist monastery that makes beer. Their only beer now is a Tripel. Here's a photo of it. No, not dark, but not light either.

                    Your final comment is precisely why using styles are in my experience pretty unreliable in finding a beer.

                    1. re: ThomasvanDale

                      We get it, very few beers in Belgium are marketed as Quadrupels. In the US the term is used and is fairly descriptive of what the final product will be. Different countries have differing terms based on the end product. This exists in a multitude of areas.

                      Like I said earlier, I am not a slave to style. There are a lot of blurred lines between the "agreed" upon style, what the brewer calls it and what the drinker expects to be getting. Stouts and porters come to mind, as do Double IPAs, Strong American Ales and American Barley Wines. Some English Old Ales taste like Barley Wines to me and vice versa. In the end though all of the descriptors are somewhat accurate unless you are truly nitpicking.

                      While there are these blurred lines, styles are a reasonable way of finding beer.

                      1. re: MVNYC

                        It's really the "finding beer" that I'm having trouble understanding. I go to Bavaria at least once a year to try beers recommended by a small group of friends whose tastes I know pretty well. And my trips have been quite successful - I can't think of a beer that was recommended that I ended up not liking at all.

                        As I said earlier, styles only work if the user (drinker) understands them and the brewers cooperate by keeping to those style rules and the bar personnel speak the same language (beer language, I mean).

                        If it works for you, I think that's fine. However, I'd recommend that you think about the wisdom and courtesy of renaming beers from another country because it makes it easier for you to understand.

                        1. re: ThomasvanDale

                          "However, I'd recommend that you think about the wisdom and courtesy of renaming beers from another country because it makes it easier for you to understand."

                          You are upset by this? Plenty of products get renamed or classified when they are exported to a specific market that does not speak the same language. No one is going to Belgium or the Netherlands and demanding they change the name. I have been all throughout Bavaria and Bohemia as well and have had a fine time figuring out their classification systems. However if the Czechs for example exported their full range of beers their degrees plato would mean nothing to the average American beer drinker. That has nothing to do with "wisdom and courtesy".

                          1. re: MVNYC

                            I think it leads to confusion - US visitors, not as experienced as you, come here and ask for a quadrupel or some other BJCP fantasy.

                            What does this have to do with renaming or classification in another market that "does not speak the same language"? Quadrupel isn't Dutch? Do you speak Dutch in the US now? If you can't or won't spell Tripel correctly (if you Anglicise it), I wouldn't be upset. But saying something that's blue is red is just wrong.

                            1. re: ThomasvanDale

                              How can it cause confusion to ask for a Quad if "Quad" is on the brewer's website?

                              1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                Well for one Quadrupel is an acceptable term here in the US. We use the Dutch spelling because that is how most of us learned about the style. American Brewers use this terminology so it makes sense for people to know what it means.

                                If an American comes to Belgium and tries to order the Rochefort Quadrupel, I am sure it gets annoying as the term is not used there. However at the end of the day the term is firmly established in the US and I don't think it is going anywhere.

                                Just curious if I am looking for a dryer lighter bodied ale with a higher alcohol % with spicy notes and a decent yeast presence, what would I ask for? And yes I know that I can just ask for that but there is probably a simpler way

                                1. re: MVNYC

                                  First of all, you left out a word: "that is how most of us learned about the *US* style"

                                  This discussion (and please comment if you disagree) seems to be that the only people who deny its a myth are the more 'extreme' believers who think because a couple of Belgian brewers (who, I expect, export beers to the US) mention it on their sites that it means its recognised in Belgium. But almost everyone, including you, find it useful for "finding beer." (I didn't know it was lost.)

                                  It is not only the great belief in beer styles that separate the US from Europe, it is also this "finding beer" concept. How do you find new films, or books or clothes or TV sets? Isn't that more or less the same thing?

                                  Several years ago, I went to Denmark with a friend. We wrote to the Copenhagen chapter of the national beer consumers union and asked if someone local could take us around. We brought some Dutch beers with us as a thank you gift. We received a nice reply and met a fellow at a beer shop that was easy to find. We did this all in English since neither I or my friend speak Danish and we know that English is widely spoken there.

                                  Locally, we go to pubs that serve a mixture of Dutch and Belgian beers. We also have a beer shop here that buys bottles from all over Europe and a few from the US. There is a pub, very close to where I live, that sells only Dutch beers and jenevers (a local strong drink).

                                  Currently, taking Belgium and the Netherlands together, there are over 300 breweries (about 160 in each, although Belgium has about half the population of my country).

                                  Unlike the US, 'innovation' is not considered a high ideal for a brewery here. Quality is. This is not to say that there aren't some unusual beers made here (as well as some crappy beers), but the net result is that there is a sort of bell curve: standard but well-made beers in the middle and 'new' beers and crappy beers at either end.

                                  Since the pub business here is pretty big (Amsterdam has a population of 750,000 and there are over 1200 pubs here), occasionally new places open that offer interesting products. A few years ago, this place ( opened in a park on the outskirts of the city. They serve on tap a Czech beer and a German beer, both from small breweries, and have a distillery on site where they make jenever. It's a lovely setting and in summer you can sit outside on their terrace.

                                  I like to go to a pub once or twice a week. I have several favourites (pubs) and they usually have more or less the same beers. I know I can get a Trappist beer at cellar temperature at these places. If a visitor comes here and wants either a specific beer or a specific type of beer, I usually know a place where we can get it. However, if someone wants, for example, a broad sample of Franconian beers, I'd tell him (or her) to go to Franconia, because we don't have anything like that here. I've never had the experience where a visitor asked for a beer the way you did in your last paragraph.

                                  I'd appreciate your comments on the following story: in 1733, a brewery was established here in Amsterdam called Van Vollenhoven's Bierbrouwerij. In 1941 (while under Nazi occupation), Heineken bought the brewery. One of the brewery's most popular beers was a stout. Heineken continued brewing less and less of it until around the year 2000. It had gotten worse over the years as well. In 2006, a foundation of Amsterdammers went to Heineken and said they missed the stout and wondered whether Heineken would let them brew it themselves. As a result, Heineken sold them the right to brew it, use the Van Vollenhoven name and gave them a recipe from 1948. The price? One euro.

                                  I'm not saying that the beer culture is better here, but it is certainly different. And having grown up in it, I feel more comfortable with it than I would in the US.

                                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                    One might say the US didn't have a beer culture for many years. I would venture to guess that beer is woven much more tightly into the broader culture in much of Europe. Now we are reinventing our beer culture, and it doesn't always look the best for it, with too much snobby geekiness at one end and too much ignorance at the other.

                                    People in the US love big and huge, which admittedly isn't a very deep way to look at things.

                                    The US does have a tradition of local bars, which don't necessarily serve great beer, but are comfortable and welcoming. (It seems that Pennsylvania was a haven for these kinds of places, and perhaps still is in some areas.) Now the bars seem all the same, and they are all too loud to hold a conversation. Of course, I generalize ...

                                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                      Thanks for a thoughtful and, I believe, honest reply. While I don't know the US beer culture as well as you do, I find the disrespect for other cultures (the English phrase I had trouble remembering yesterday) a low point in that culture and that not everyone here can see that I find rather disturbing.

                                      The pub culture, from limited experience in the US east coast, seems to be moving in the opposite direction to the pubs here. Whereas pubs here are mostly intended for conversation among the patrons, it seems that US pubs do their best to discourage it - not only loud, but also big TV screens.

                                      I don't visit the US as much as I used to because I don't enjoy it as much. Of course, part of that is the kind of greeting foreigners get in US airports. But, the growing trend to noisy pubs with beers that seem limited to American tastes is no longer so attractive.

                                      I realise that foreigners account for a very tiny percentage of their trade, but I find it very surprising that so many Americans seem to like over-hopped, high alcohol beers.

                                    2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                      Wait if I'm in Belgium and I order a St Bernardus Abt 12 at a bar and they are out if I ask the bartender for something similar is that a faux pas in your world?

                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                        Why? Is it a faux pas in your world?

                                      2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                        "This discussion (and please comment if you disagree) seems to be that the only people who deny its a myth are the more 'extreme' believers who think because a couple of Belgian brewers (who, I expect, export beers to the US) mention it on their sites that it means its recognised in Belgium. But almost everyone, including you, find it useful for "finding beer." (I didn't know it was lost.)

                                        It is not only the great belief in beer styles that separate the US from Europe, it is also this "finding beer" concept. How do you find new films, or books or clothes or TV sets? Isn't that more or less the same thing?"

                                        I am not sure who disagrees with you that the style doesn't exist in Belgium. I was not aware of this before and you made a pretty compelling argument and you sold me. I was only stating that while the style or the definition of the style does exist in America and that's how Americans describe it. Again I am not really sure why this is upsetting but I can see your annoyance regarding American tourists requesting it in Belgium.

                                        As to the concept of finding beer, I can only speak for myself. At American beer bars or brewpubs/breweries I usually go and sample a few different types of what they have on offer. The only reason that style designation helps me is because It is one of the few styles I dislike. I do not eat dessert and the sweetest thing I eat is probably blueberries. I find Quadrupels or however you would like to define what Americans refer to them as, to be too sweet and boozy. I generally find them too extreme for my taste and avoid them. That's all, other than that I pretty much emulate the way you go to a pub. In our beer bars, I have a pretty good general idea which breweries are better than others but I will give any newcomers a shot. That and a little research on the internet is usually how I "find" new beers. In the end if I buy a bad pint of beer, I am out $6. If I buy a bad TV I am out $1500. So that probably requires a little more research.

                                        So when you go to the beer store you mentioned, how do you select (find) a beer you want to drink?

                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                          Another aspect to this discussion that I think Mr. VanDale is missing is that we have a much larger selection of styles to choose from. When you have craft breweries trafficking in English, Bavarian, Czech, Belgian, and French styles of beer-making having ways to identify them is useful for the consumer.

                                          I find our Belgian friend's attitude around this topic as off-putting and discourteous as he finds our classifying of styles. This stuff wasn't engraved on stone tablets by your deity of choice. Perhaps, dare I say it, the BJCP means of classifying styles so that they can be understood pre-purchase is superior to the lack of information communicated on labels in Belgium?

                                          1. re: Josh

                                            First of all, I am not Belgian and I thought I had made that pretty clear. Secondly, I can buy English, Bavarian, Belgian, Dutch and Scandinavian beers at my beer shop. So, how is my situation different from yours?

                                            And why is it that I can find beers to enjoy without using styles? Why do you need the BJCP? Can't you decide on your own?

                                            If I were you, I would be careful about using off-putting and discourteous -- glass houses and all.

                                            1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                              I'm sure you can find beers you enjoy without using styles. Complaining about people liking classification is nutty.

                                              1. re: Josh

                                                I like to have some idea as to what I will be drinking before I purchase something. If a beer is simply called Peter's Piss Water, I will take a pass. On the other hand, if it is called Peter's Piss Water IPA, I might give it a whirl.

                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                  If a bottle is called Piss, you won't take it, but if a bottle is called Piss IPA, you would drink it?

                                                  You have just proven how ridiculous your point (whatever that was) is.

                                                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                    I just wanna be clear here is your point that ordering beer by style in Belgium is frawned upon, rude, tiresome, what is the issue? I get that you don't need to know styles and are extremely pleased w/ what you drink. Well so was my dad and he only drank Bud for 40 years. What's at issue here?

                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                      Have you not read the title of this thread? Is quadrupel an American style or a Belgian style?

                                                      I don't know whether you've ever been to Europe, but local people usually order beers by name. Yes, I've heard people say "a pils, please", but that would be like your father, wouldn't it? I've never ever heard a German ask for a Volbier, a Landbier or anything like that. I've never heard a Belgian asking for a dubbed or tripel other than if it was the name of a beer. Now, I'd like an answer to my question posted on top, please.

                                                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                        If you are referring to whether I'd drink a beer named Piss my answer is no; altho' I don't think that question was for me.

                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                          I think the question was phrased very clearly. And I wonder whether you have the courage of your convictions to answer it? And if not, that proves how weak your convictions are.

                                                          1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                            This thread has gotten long, I am not sure which question you are referring to.

                                                            Can I ask you a question? Why does the fact that Americans use styles as reference points bother you so much?

                                                            1. re: MVNYC

                                                              I'm not sure either. I think you may be referring to the one posted for Chinon who doesn't seem able to answer it.

                                                              To answer your question: It does not bother me at all. I just find it pointless. As I've pointed out a few times, there are two elements: the style and the brewer. If you look at the BJCP style guide, they write, for example: "THE BREWER MUST SPECIFY EITHER THE BEER BEING CLONED, THE NEW STYLE BEING PRODUCED OR THE SPECIAL INGREDIENTS OR PROCESSES USED." In other words, these are what the BJCP itself calls "style guideline."

                                                              Since brewers are free to be "creative" (in some case are encouraged) how close will their beers be to the style guidelines? That new Dutch Trappist tripel I posted a photo of the other day tastes nothing at all like a Westmalle tripel. So, how is it helpful if every brewer makes his own version of a particular style?

                                                              The usefulness of style and classification only works when all the samples are line up nicely behind their style or classification. If there are too many exceptions, then it doesn't work.

                                                              1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                Oh you meant posted on top of the post instead of on top of the thread. Sorry that was unclear to me.

                                                                I certainly don't consider the BJCP style guidelines to be gospel. It is certainly too rigid and many beers blur the lines. When does a porter become a stout, etc... I think you are taking it too literally. Most Americans I know don't give a shit about BJCP but styles listed on a bottle of beer do help. There are so many beers on the market whether domestic or import it is an easy way to let the consumer know what they are purchasing. When presented with an unfamiliar brand the normal person would not do an internet search on the different beers. It helps them know that what they are about to purchase is an IPA rather than a Kolsch. That's pretty much all styles do.

                                                                I would guess the number beer drinkers who have even heard of the BJCP is minimal. While their definitions may have influenced the market, most beer bars allow samples and people generally drink what they want regardless of style.

                                                                1. re: MVNYC

                                                                  A friend of mine once sent me a link to a discussion on RB or BA where someone wrote something like: shit, I drank the same beer twice. We laughed about it.

                                                                  This, I guess, goes back to the "find beer" point. If it is really considered such a disaster to drink the same beer twice, then the constant search for new beers must be intense. I assume, however, that this same beer twice statement is not particularly rational. That most people don't mind drinking the same beer twice.

                                                                  My point is that visiting a pub is, at least here, rarely a quest for something new. In fact, it's usually for something old. I usually find new beers when I go to Bavaria. I have a friend who works in the German beer industry and who spent much of his youth traveling around Bavaria and tasting as much beer as possible. He's led me to some amazing beers. The only problem is that I have to go to Bavaria to drink them. But, I like Bavaria and my parents were German, so, in a way, it's a bit like going home for me.

                                                                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                    RB and BA attract a certain demographic of beer drinkers that are a small but vocal minority. Don't take an internet discussion between a couple of beer ticker (as in just having a new beer to tick it off your list) dorks to be that common amongst American beer drinkers. Most people I know are more than happy to drink what they like and don't have a strong compulsion to try something new. If I see something that I haven't had I will give it a try but that is probably 1 out of every 6 or 8 beers I drink. Most of the time it is stuff that I like.

                                                                2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                  BJCP guidelines came into being so that homebrewers could test their skills by brewing against specific guidelines. That is sensible. Of course, the next step is that people start to use those guidelines to "define" styles.

                                                                  I do see a use for stylistic criteria. They enable consumers, at a glance, to have some idea of what they might be drinking. If you see a Helles and a Tripel, you have some idea of how they differ. I think that is good, although it might not be so good to inscribe these criteria in stone.

                                                                  Then you have the penchant here in the US to spin styles in various directions until you have beers called IPA that are dark, or contain coriander and are fermented with Rochefort (or whatever) yeast, or are low in alcohol. Of course, the original craft IPAs in the US were already shooting off in their own direction. Ditto for barley wines.

                                                              2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                I'm not sure of the question being asked. Could you repeat.

                                                        2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                          Without labeling the beer with a style I would have no way of knowing what I was about to drink.

                                                          If it is 100 degrees outside I would never open up an imperial stout to quench my thirst so it is a good idea to put the style right there on the bottle.

                                                          1. re: jpc8015

                                                            You just shattered the myth that styles are only about marketing.

                                                      2. re: Josh

                                                        I'm perfectly happy to discuss this with you on an adult level. If you want to call me or my view names, then you can have the discussion with yourself.

                                                        1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                          I didn't call you anything. I find your stance hard to comprehend though. In answer to your question about about quadrupel, perhaps the best way to answer is to say it's an American name bestowed upon certain Belgian strong ales which communicates something about what the drinker should expect from its flavor profile. I'm not sure why it matters to you that the term isn't used in Belgium. I'm blunt in my communication, but I'm certainly not intending to be hostile. I genuinely am baffled by your complaint here, as it seems many other people are who are commenting. I'm sorry if anything I wrote caused offense.

                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                            OK, fair enough. I'm not surprised that many people here have the same opinion, since all of you come from the same culture.

                                                            If you were to travel from, say New York to New Jersey, I don't imagine there would be much change in culture. You all speak the same language and have the same customs. However, when I travel to Germany, which is my next-door neighbor, it is quite different. Different language and different customs. Perhaps because of this, Europeans are more tolerant and understanding about different cultures.

                                                            The US beer culture is very different and strange to me. While it's true that most of what I know about it is what I read on the Internet, I have also been to the US several times and gone to pubs and tried beers there. I've also occasionally been able to try American beers here.

                                                            If you were to say that because of my limited knowledge of the US beer scene, I'm wrong to criticize it, that would be a fair comment. But, now let's put the shoe on the other foot: for all the lack of knowledge I may have about the US beer scene, you and many of your colleague here have that same lack of knowledge about the European beer scene. And that it's just as wrong for you to make observations and comments about it as it is for me to make about the US.

                                                            Secondly, it seems from what I have read that Belgium and its beers have had a major influence on the US beer culture. Would you agree?

                                                            OK. Fact: there is exactly one beer called Quadrupel and made by a Trappist monastery. The monastery is called Koningshoeven and is not Belgian, but located in the Netherlands. There are six monasteries in Belgium that brew beer and not a single one of them makes a beer called Quadrupel and not a single one of them has changed the recipe of their tripels since the 1950s or 60s.

                                                            Right. First the BJCP lists simply "Trappist Quadrupels". OK. Why does it list in plural? There is only one.

                                                            Now BA: "Inspired by the Trappist brewers of Belgium, a Quadrupel is a Belgian style ale of great strength with bolder flavor compared to its Dubbel and Tripel sister styles." Not actually that bad other than getting the country wrong. It doesn't actually say that this is a Belgian style.

                                                            Now RB: "Abt, or quadrupel, is the name given to ultra-strong Trappist and abbey ales. The name Abt was pioneered to describe Westvleteren and the beer that would become St. Bernardus. Quadrupel was pioneered by La Trappe." Now, that is just plain nonsense. Abt is a beer style too? And doesn't it seem to suggest that these names are universal (accepted everywhere, including Belgium)?

                                                            You and quite a few others are clearly very annoyed by some of the comments I've made that clash with your concept of beer. Well, I am very annoyed by organisations that you seem to respect that can't get something which is very simple correct.

                                                            Quadrupel is an American beer myth. That breweries put that name on a bottle in the US is just marketing.

                                                            1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                              Ok first yes there is no such thing as a "Quad" in Belgium; but there is one in the Netherlands and Belgian breweries do use "quad" in USA for marketing purposes.
                                                              I think too that an analogy can be drawn between what you are saying and between wine drinkers from traditional and the nontraditional wine producing countries. In Italy or France wine is a local product which while held in great esteem isn't something that folks will invest a lot of time in looking outside their country (or even village maybe) to discover new stuff. They know what's good and are happy. On the other hand from my travels to Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia and at home in the US typical wine drinkers will tend to seek out and drink new stuff from all over the world for a new experience while having favorites that they will return to over and over again too.

                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                There is no such thing as a quadrupel beer style in any of the Low Countries. There is a single beer with that name in the Netherlands, but a single beer does not make a style, does it?

                                                                It is, as I wrote above, a myth made up, I assume, to sell more beer.

                                                                I don't really have a big problem with your wine analogy, especially since you specifically note that it is the American wine drinkers who search for new wines.

                                                                As I wrote to Josh, there are different cultures and different consumption cultures. I enjoy drinking beer very much, as, I assume, you do as well, but I hope you now understand that there are different approaches to consumption as well.

                                                                1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                  Correction: I said in Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia AND the USA people search for new wines.

                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                    OK. You're right. I misread that. I would point out however, that Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia are not wine-growing countries. I know there's some wine grown in the US, but isn't that in just one or two areas?

                                                                    1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                      I believe there are wineries in every state. Even Alaska. But it is true that the vast majority of production occurs in California, Oregon and Washington.

                                                                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                        Yes. To clarify my point, the traditional wine growing nations I listed are Italy and France (there are others). Non traditional wine growing nations I listed are Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and the US. Yes the US producing some fine wines but like in Britain, and Ireland etc Americans generally aren't raised up drinking wine from early on, it's not broadly part of everyday culture like in France or Italy. Wine is a hobby or an interest for many wine drinkers outside the traditional wine growing nations. This leads to searching and discovering of wines; similar to how some can treat craft beer.

                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                          Your analogy has just broken. Wine is geographically dependent. One of the reasons, the UK and others don't have local wine is because their climate and soil are not suitable.

                                                                          Beer is independent of climate and soil. It is NOT an agricultural product. Yes, it does need agricultural products, but a brewery does not need to have a certain climate or soil.

                                                                          I see no connection between what you wrote about wine and people searching for beer.

                                                                          1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                            For sure. Wine isn't an integral part of US, Dutch, British, etc culture. My point is people from non-traditional wine growing countries treat wine more like a hobby. So a Brit or American wine drinker might come to France and be initially surprised (as I was) that there wasn't the wider range of wines available from different countries that I was used to at home.

                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                              Logical really. In many European beer countries, beer is very local, as it has been for centuries. And the same for the wine countries. Belgium, which is quite small, especially by US standards, has quite a few areas that are well known for a particular type of beer. And, if you want a particular French wine, you either have to go to the region where it is produced or you may have to buy a bottle of a commercial version which is shipped to Paris.

                                                                              1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                I think the word we are looking for is connoisseurship. In regard to beer, while your typical German loves beer he loves HIS beer (whatever his regional beer might be) and is not at all interested in unlocking the mysteries of British or American ale. While on the otherhand an American craft drinker is often quite the opposite. We want to figure it all out and experiment. Same is true I've found of Brits, US etc wine drinkers, again due to our historical relationship w/ wine.

                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                  I think the idea of always searching is quite unique to the US. I know an expression: if it's not broken, don't fix it. Speaking personally, I'm quite happy with the beers I can always drink locally and I've found enough places in nearby countries where I'm quite happy to drink as well.

                                                                                  However, I should point out that the places where I drink, whether here or in another country, I like because of the atmosphere, as well as the beer. I certainly don't feel that I'm missing something and need to find more or different beers to drink.

                                                                                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                    "And, if you want a particular French wine [in Belgium], you either have to go to the region where it is produced or you may have to buy a bottle of a commercial version which is shipped to Paris."
                                                                                    - ThomasvanDale

                                                                                    Well, isn't that "searching" too?

                                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                      No. I was not looking for a new wine. I went to a small café in Paris many years ago and simply chose a random wine from the menu. Actually, it wasn't a 'normal' wine list, but a small list of some special drinks. I tried two and liked both of them. I found it in a drinks chain in Paris and the wine shop across the street from where I live also has it.

                                                                                      This is off-topic, but a week from Monday, we are going for holiday in the south of France and this morning, after some research, I found a bus that will take us from the train to the village where we have rented a house. The bus comes one hour after the train arrives, but, thanks to Google Street View (from 2008, unfortunately), I found a patisserie and a small café where we can refresh ourselves and the bus stop is right outside the café. There will be, I expect, no beer, but wine there should be plenty.

                                                                                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                        You aren't the object of my observation other Brits and Europeans I've met are.
                                                                                        Here's recent analysis from a market research firm in regard to trends in British wine consumption:
                                                                                        " drinking is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, which is traditionally not a wine drinking country. Consumers have become increasingly sophisticated thanks to more education on the different types of wine and its combination with food and as a result of increasing international travel to southern Europe and other traditional wine drinking regions. Consumers are opting for quality over quantity, as demonstrated by the fact that value sales were up but volumes stagnated over the review period."

                                                                                        So through education and travel at least the British consumer's taste are changing and honing onto more specific higher end purchases.

                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                          I'm not quite clear what your point is here. Are you saying that Brits are going to southern Europe in search of new wines?

                                                                                          1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                            Well for one their experience w/ wine is growing and changing (much like it is in the United States). It's a function of education and travel. So w/ their feet firmly under themselves now and w/ more experience Brits seeking out and making specific higher end purchases.
                                                                                            So I can imagine a Brit reading about a particular food and wine pairing or traveling to Spain and having a wine and desiring to replicate that at home as closely as possible or seeking out that experience again while traveling.

                                                                                    2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                      I think this searching mentality is related to this being something still rather new in the US. It is quite common among a certain group of drinkers to really like a beer, but want to try something different instead of having that one again.

                                                                                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                        That's possible. But, I also see a very high level of competitiveness in the US. What's the best film, TV show, magazine, etc. That could also have an influence.

                                                                                          1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                            One of the worst things about American culture is the need to have a "best" everything. There are however a lot of people who are annoyed and disgusted by this

                                                                                            1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                              Don't forget "biggest". I wonder if you can get a Big Gulp elsewhere in the world.

                                                                                              1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                "One of the worst things about American culture is the need to have a "best" everything. "

                                                                                                Most of the population are clueless, concerning "best", and are preyed upon by market gimmickry.

                                                                                                You may very well be referring to an illusionary "best", that becomes a religious like affiliation with the illusion of viewing something as "best".

                                                                                                That is horrible.

                                                                                                The thought to have something for its stated value without truly appreciating it, or even understanding it, happens much.

                                                                                                "Big Gulp " exists no where I can see, except in the USA.

                                                                                                I have to admit, I have funneled beer.

                                                                                                With beer, a mature taste, takes time, or much sampling, to cultivate.

                                                                      2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                        I understand what you are saying here, but I think it's a little strange to label "quadrupel" a myth since there are breweries making beers sold under that descriptor. I.e. while it may be the case that the term was coined by Koningshoven (aka La Trappe), others have picked up the term and run with it.

                                                                        And I think there is a certain logic to it: if there can be singel, dubbel, and tripel, then why not quadrupel? Pentupel? Sextupel? I don't know that I'd want to drink one of those, but I hope you get my point.

                                                                        I know that there were people who opposed the double- and triple-IPA names, and for that matter the concept of a black IPA. But if I'm a brewer trying to sell beer to a crowd that knows what an IPA is, then calling one with higher ABV a double IPA is communicative. It's not hard to infer that it might be a higher alcohol IPA.

                                                                        Similarly if a given beer audience knows of dubbel and tripel, then it's not a stretch that they could infer the meaning of quadrupel as being even higher in ABV than a tripel.

                                                                        You call this "just marketing", but if the name helps a customer determine something about the contents of the bottle isn't that beneficial?

                                                                        To borrow from the wine examples cited here, it's normal to see traditional French blends like Bordeaux or Meritage without the label indicating the varietals that comprise those styles, where in the US it's more common to see the varietal highlighted, and if a blend the varietals prominently displayed because that communicates something about what you can expect from the bottle's contents.

                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                          It is a fantasy style. Someone from the BJCP or RB or BA bought a bottle of the Dutch Quradrupel, et voilà, a style was born. What I think you are missing is that the style was created on the basis of the Dutch beer and the other beers came later. If you think there is a shortage of beer styles in the US, then, by all means, call it a style. But, I think the opposite is true.

                                                                          FYI: in Britain, CAMRA suggest there are nine types of beer and in Germany, the brewers association says there are 14. How many hundred are there in the US?

                                                                          1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                            BJCP identifies 23 main styles, which then have sub-styles that still belong to the parent. Given that it attempts to provide a taxonomy for all the styles produced globally that makes sense to me given the numbers from CAMRA and Germany.

                                                                            It may be a fantasy inasmuch as only one brewery outside Belgium coined the term, but isn't anything that is the first to bear a certain name based on the imagination of the person who concieved of it?

                                                                            It's not as though there is a Platonic form of tripel.

                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                              I read on an American beer blog that there were, I think, 170 styles for a beer contest at a beer festival or some other even. I'm not saying that 170 is the official number, but that's not in the same league as less than 20.

                                                                              The issue is not who made up the name, the issue is who took advantage of it.

                                                                              1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                The way BJCP works is you submit your beer under the style and category. In that sense there could well be 170, given that each of the 23 parent categories have many children. There are also a few categories for non-beer fermented beverages like ciders, braggots, and meads.

                                                                                However those 170 categories are really only intended for judging purposes, so that judges are comparing like with like. From a consumer standpoint in a beer shop they are overkill, and I don't know of many brewers who label their products by the sub-category they'd occupy in a judging context.

                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                  The German brewers association also included "children." I included those in the number I gave.

                                                                                  Are you aware that Michael Jackson, who came up with the concept of styles (or maybe just made it better known), is far, far more revered in the US than in his native UK? I might go so far as to say that there seems to be a group of beer drinkers in the US who are obsessed with styles.

                                                                                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                    Michael was a very kind man. I used to drive him around occasionally, as a lot of people did, when he visited breweries in my area. I allotted an extra 15 minutes at each brewery because he would invariably have to pose for photos and sign books. He was held in high regard by everyone in our industry.

                                                                                    As far as I can surmise, Michael sometimes popularized existing styles and sometimes codified them himself. I recall hearing that he codified East and West Flanders red/brown ales on his own, for example, and that the residents didn't necessarily see them that way. I have no idea if that is correct. (On a related note, he wondered if it was more than coincidence that Greene King's Strong Suffolk was a blend of beers, a process similar to that used to make West Flanders beers, just across the water.)

                                                                                    You are correct about the reverence for Michael in the US. A primary reason for this is that he was on the scene in the early days of craft beer in this country, and he spent a lot of time here because so much was going on.

                                                                                    I will let Michael speak for himself on this topic:

                                                                                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                      I certainly have nothing against Michael Jackson and he was one of the first writers to make a more serious study of beer in the 20th century and in English.

                                                                                      Regarding the Belgian beers, I do agree that he didn't quite get that right. The are two small towns west of Brussels, named Oudenaarde and Roeselare. Oudenaarde had several breweries (most have closed by now) that made a beer that was brown and slightly sour. Roeselare is home to Rodenbach brewery which makes a more reddish beer that is also slightly sour. But, aside from the colors (the difference is rather subtle), the beers are more or less the same.

                                                                                2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                  Another good example to look at could be Baltic porter. Do the Baltic regions that make this beer call it that? Do they even call it porter? If not, then it might seem strange to them to see it labeled that way in the US, but I know as a consumer that Baltic porter implies a somewhat different flavor profile than a porter from Britain.

                                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                                    I think we are thinking of this in too narrow terms. Thomas can correct me if I'm wrong, but Europeans have never understood the concept of 20 different types of Cheerios in a grocery store, either. :)

                                                                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                      There are 20 different kinds of cheerios?

                                                                                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                        Oh yeah - it drives my wife (who grew up in Eastern Europe) nuts.

                                                                                    2. re: Josh

                                                                                      Must I keep repeating myself? There are brewers outside the US who will quite happily sell their beers in the US and will name them and/or brew them according to what they read on the BJCP site or RB or BA.

                                                                                      Will these brewers sell this beer in their home country? Maybe. I read in a Belgian newspaper that de Struise, the darling of RB, sells 90 percent of its beer overseas (also a lot to Scandinavia). When some of it finds its way here, the price is between twice and triple what another Belgian beer might cost.

                                                                                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                        "There are brewers outside the US who will quite happily sell their beers in the US and will name them and/or brew them according to what they read on the BJCP site or RB or BA."

                                                                                        But the most popular "quadrupel" (sorry) style beers in the US outdate BJCP, RB, BA and the entire American craft beer movement by decades and decades (i.e. Westvleteren 12, Rochefort 10 and St Bernardus).
                                                                                        This style that we American wrongly call quadrupel isn't some bastardized American concoction, the recipes for these beers are purely a European creation aren't they?

                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                          How many times do I need to go over this? When did BCJP et al come up with the false concept of quadrupel? And what did BRB then do? Decide that any beer that didn't have Tripel nailed down on its label was fair game for what? Oh, and let's not forget Abt. Another fantasy beer style. Why? Because, apparently, the more beer styles the better.

                                                                                          Why is the BJCP so wrong about European beers? The answer is really quite simple: how often do they send someone over here to buy local beers? Everything they do seems to be based on beers exported to the US. The ones kindly named and brewed to meet American expectations.

                                                                                          1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                            But the beers haven't changed in 70 years. None of these American beer organizations or websites existed 70 years ago. This beer we like and mistakenly call quadrupel predates everything.

                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                              That's exactly right. And were they called quadrupel 70 years ago? No, they were renamed quadrupel after the BJCP cabal discovered that a Trappist brewer in the Netherlands had named their beer Quadrupel. Had any of the Trappists strongest beer another name than tripel (or Grande Réserve)? The answer is no.

                                                                                              On the Chimay (Grande Réserve) web site, they write (in English!) " It was first brewed as a Christmas beer…"

                                                                                              And, there we have the answer. It is traditional in many parts of Europe to brew a stronger beer for the winter. In fact, my group in Zythos has held a Winter/Christmas beer festival for close to 20 years. The last few years, we have even had a Christmas beer from Rochefort called the "Rochefort 8 Cuvée" and there's Sint Bernardus Christmas Ale and many other beers with similar names (Noël de Silenrieux, Bush de Noël, De Koninck Winter Ale, Douce Vertus Bière de Noël, and many, many more). These beers are usually only available in the winter. I don't know the alcohol levels, but many are, I expect, over 9 abv.

                                                                                              Perhaps if the BJCP ever found out about this practice (strong winter beers), they would make a new style. How about Belgian Strong Winter Ales?

                                                                                                1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                  While you are technically correct, it is called a Christmas Beer festival (

                                                                                                  And if you are concerned about correct terminology (and why shouldn't you be?), then why aren't you equally concerned about quadrupel when it is far more than a technical error?

                                                                                                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                    That was a joke - I was coming up with a category name for you.

                                                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                                                        I vote for Second Opinion...

                                                                                                        And Ive been drinking St. Bernardus "Christmas Abt 12" for more years than I can count now. Never gave it a second thought that it was anything other than a "Belgian Winter Quadruple". I hope that doesnt make Thomas's head explode...

                                                                                                        1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                          I said "Christmas Ales" because my local Whole Foods put them out under a display with that as a label.


                                                                                                2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                  Well I could really understand your strong feelings if through our influence we Americans were changing the recipes of the beers you love. We'd be robbing you of your beer and history. But we, to the contrary adore the beers of Belgium as they are and do our best to brew them like Belgians (utterly not to your satisfaction we know).
                                                                                                  I don't see how categorizing them (incorrectly) takes away from your drinking pleasure or why it disturbs you so profoundly.

                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                    "I don't see how categorizing them (incorrectly) takes away from your drinking pleasure or why it disturbs you so profoundly."

                                                                                                    That's my confusion in all of this as well.

                                                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                      Thats exactly the question I've been wondering

                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                          Assuming you are all in agreement with Chinon, then I assume you all agree that this is incorrect classification.

                                                                                                          As he also wrote, there is a lot of admiration (and, I assume, with that comes respect) for Belgian beers in the US. Why do you respect the beers but disrespect their significance outside the US?

                                                                                                          Could someone explain to me how it is helpful or useful to simply make up history or classification? Why should Americans be taught faulty history about Europe? How is that in any way beneficial?

                                                                                                          I really wonder how you would feel if I renamed or re-wrote the history of some American institution. I imagine you wouldn't like it any more than I do.

                                                                                                          1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                            I think it depends on what you think is historically important about the name for a particular combination of malts/yeast/hops. Applying a name so that consumers understand better what's in the bottle doesn't seem like something to be bothered by, especially given the panoply of things that are actually worth being bothered by in this world. Calling some beers with similar profiles "quadrupel" vs. nothing descriptive about their contents seems to be pretty insignificant compared to, say, rampant corruption of public institutions for the benefit of oligarchs.

                                                                                                            1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                              I wouldnt even go as far as to call it "incorrectly" but rather "differently". Perhaps thats hair splitting to you but then one good turn deserves another... When millions of consumers understand what is meant when someone says the word "Quad"; when retailers and shippers and suppliers and the brewery corporate headquarters (including clearly the evil marketing department) AND even the brewer himself clearly understand what is meant when someone says the word "Quad" then there is some legitimacy to the term, even if some grumpy traditionalists rail on about the ungodly technical abomination of calling a Tripel (using the ancient and therefore correct definition of the term) a Quad even if "Quad Tripels" taste drastically different from "Tripel Tripels" (for lack of better defining terminology).

                                                                                                              I'll note that if you go to most countries in the world the single best selling liquid refreshment we produce here (Diet Coke) is called "Coke Light" for some reason. It doesnt bother me in the least nor do I think it offends the great soda makers of old who clearly didnt want their great diet beverages misrepresented as "Light" even if that term may connect better to people in Britain and Uruguay and Sri Lanka.

                                                                                                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                Your post refers to the current situation, years after the term was brought to light by the US holy trinity of beer. Let's go back a few years and take another look.

                                                                                                                As it happens, for many years, Belgians already had a name for beer stronger than a tripel (and no, it was not quadrupel). So why then did the holy trinity have to make up a new name when one already existed? One, as it happens, that was already an accepted term in the Low Countries - which quadrupel is not as Belgians are not too fond of Dutch beer.

                                                                                                                But, your whole point really goes back to the problem of styles and demonstrates how this focus on something secondary to the beer itself can lead to confusion.

                                                                                                                1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                  "As it happens, for many years, Belgians already had a name for beer stronger than a tripel (and no, it was not quadrupel)."

                                                                                                                  Then why didn't you tell us when you were asked up thread? People here would have been happy to hear it. Instead you kept repeating your anger at the BJCP and its' styles. This just seems like some passive aggressive way of bashing American beer drinkers. Good job!

                                                                                                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                    I don't recall being asked. Otherwise I would have said it.

                                                                                                                    Look, I think a lot of you think that I'm really angry/upset about this whole issue (including quadrupel, beer styles, BJCP, etc.) and it is actually not true. I find it annoying when people make mistakes they would not have made if they had looked first. I and none of my friends ever talk or think about beer styles, but it certainly doesn't bother me when you do.

                                                                                                                    I see problems with beer styles, as I have pointed out more than once, probably. And I think it can lead to some heated discussions, which is a real shame.

                                                                                                                    1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                      Please see the third overall post in this thread. I asked you what you would call those beers that we classify as quadrupels. You just said other tripels. If there is a name you should have said it then and there.

                                                                                                                      People think you are angry because you come across as angry. Most here, myself included have been perplexed by your level of frustration. It seems to me that you have some other agenda that you are trying to get at.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                        Sorry, perhaps that was a misunderstanding. I assumed that you meant a Trappist beer. It gets a little tricky with the Trappists as traditionally, a tripel is as far as they go.

                                                                                                                        No, it's frustration, perhaps because of language limits, that I have to repeat things or explain more than once, etc. Just really frustration.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                          Thomas, sorry if there has been a language barrier issue. I enjoy reading your posts as you provide a interesting perspective with a good knowledge of beer, which is refreshing. As to Quadrupels, I did not know that this was not a term in Belgium and am glad you educated us. The problem is you didn't explain what we should call a beer stronger than a tripel.

                                                                                                                          As someone who learned of these terms when I was learning about beer, they represent distinct beers in my mind. Personally as I stated upthread I tend to like the dryer version akin to Westmalle Tripel and Karmeliet Tripel. The distinction in my mind and the way we classify it make sense to me and have lead me to find other "Tripels" I like. While the BJCP or BA may have invented the term "Quadrupel" for Americans, I find the terms useful.

                                                                                                                          1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                            Thank you for your kind words. As I explained elsewhere, we have a very different beer culture here in Europe. One of my favourite bloggers, who writes in Dutch (, writes about both beer and train travel here. Like me, he travels to Bavaria quite often and so a lot of his excellent advice is often very useful (mostly train advice). I mention him only to show how different our culture is here.

                                                                                                                            Since I am not a big believer in styles, perhaps this suggestion will be "incorrect", but my favourite tripel is Duvel, which is very dry and at the correct alcohol level for a tripel. I drink it every day. In fact, I just finished one. (It's evening here.)

                                                                                                                            1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                              Duvel is listed as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale on BA, is that really different from how they describe a Tripel? A lot of beers could be either or so having two different descriptors there does sound a bit too much for me. Like I have said earlier too many beers blur the lines of the strict definitions of sites like Rate Beer or BEer Advocate. I think most American beer drinkers know that. I do love Duvel by the way.

                                                                                                                              We do have a different beer culture here by the way, a much younger one due to both prohibition and arcane religious based laws concerning alcohol sales from the 1700s. The US has made great strides though in establishing one. There are plenty of great beers and this leads to our bars offering a lot of them at once. These places exist in Europe but less frequently than they do here. Unfortunately to get access to a lot of the good stuff we have to go to beer centric bars and seek it out. Luckily my local is one such place and a few blocks away. They tend to stock local NY/NJ/PA and New England beers, most of which I know. I am not always on a quest for something new. Luckily things are changing and more bars are starting to sell good beers in place of the familiar bud/coors/miller products. Hopefully for the better.

                                                                                                                              1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                                No, Duvel is not considered a tripel, but why not? Tripel is a Trappist beer and Duvel is not brewed by Trappists. It is also not an abbey beer because Moortgat (the brewer) does not have any connection with a present or former abbey.

                                                                                                                                However, 8.5 percent ABV is within the range of a abbey or Trappist tripel and the taste of Duvel is lot closer to Westmalle Tripel than to, say, CokeCola. You really need to start thinking outside the box a bit. Just because it's not called a tripel doesn't mean you can't enjoy it.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                  Sorry if you didn't get my meaning. I meant that I do not care if it is called a Tripel or a Golden strong ale. Makes no difference to me enjoying the beer. Yes it is close to a Westmalle Tripel. I will try to spell it out, these styles that are on these beer websites are not gospel. Let's just call them strong Belgian Golden ales and call it a day.

                                                                                                                              2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                wait... now Duvel is a Tripel too? In these parts its called a "Belgian Strong Pale Ale" along with brews like Kwak and Piraat and such. Duvel one of my favorites by the way whatever it is.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                                  You can see my reply to MVNYC above, but the brewer calls it: "Speciaalbier met hergisting op fles" (special beer with bottle conditioning). "Special beer" is a code in Belgium: it means something for the tax collector (Cat.S is something you see regularly on Belgian beer bottles).

                                                                                                                                  It looks like a tripel, it feels like a tripel and it tastes really good. Does it have to say tripel on the label to enjoy it?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                    apparently not! And I also like Quadruples too! But Im a rebel...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                      "It looks like a tripel, it feels like a tripel and it tastes really good. Does it have to say tripel on the label to enjoy it?"

                                                                                                                                      No, styles are a rough guideline.

                                                                                                                            2. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                              So what is the name for Trappist beer stronger than a Tripel?

                                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                Trappist beer is not a style. Trappist refers to the place where the beer was brewed, not how it was brewed or what was brewed.

                                                                                                                                The Trappist have always (well, since 1956) recognized three names of beer: enkel, dubbel and tripel. They are not fixated on styles, these are beer names and not styles. The tripel, as Michael Jackson wrote, is "the strongest beer in the house."

                                                                                                                                Westmalle and Chimay make blond ones (tripels), Westvleteren and Rochefort make dark ones and Achel makes both: light and dark.

                                                                                                                                There cannot be a beer stronger than a tripel for the simple reason that there is no limit to a tripel. The only criteria is that it is stronger than a dubbel.

                                                                                                                                Of the Trappists, Westmalle, Chimay and Koningshoven are by far the most commercial. Rochefort is the only monastery that has no pub and does not permit entrance to the monastery. Westlveteren has a pub, but they are very private and non-commercial. After the Ratebeer debacle, they had to install a complicated beer pickup service (phone for reservation, car license number, etc. etc.). Achel is relatively young, having lost its brewing equipment in the first world war and not reopening the brewery again until 10-15 years ago.

                                                                                                                                Orval is kind of isolated in the very southern part of Belgium, just over the border from France. They have a pub and a visitors centre (for the monastery), but are not very commercial.

                                                                                                                                Koningshoven was thrown out of the Trappist association a few years ago because its beers are brewed by a commercial brewer. They eventually reached a compromise and were readmitted, but with some changes. Since the early 20th century, Konigshoven has always gone its own way. The bought pubs, they "brewed" soda water and pils, etc. That they came out with a beer "stronger than a tripel" is not really surprising, considering their background.

                                                                                                                                In the 1990s, Chimay rebuilt its brewery with new equipment, including conical fermentors. Many people wrote to them asking why the beer had changed. The monastery, for years, denied that anything had changed. But, in the end it became quite clear that the beer was not what it used to be.

                                                                                                                                The Trappists all belong to the Trappist association, but it's more like a club than overseeing body (although it does that too). So long as the monasteries keep to the rules (monks have to be involved in the brewing, the brewery has to be in or part of the monastery, etc.), they can do whatever they like.

                                                                                                                                The day that Westvleteren and Rochefort produce a beer stronger than a tripel, I will join the BJCP.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                  Would it be fair to say that these beers (enkel, dubbel and tripel) are distinguished by strength rather than style?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                    The main problem here, I think, is that you are trying to understand one beer culture in the terms of another very different one. It's like trying to put a size 36 shoe on a size 42 foot.

                                                                                                                                    The three Trappist beers have no style. Any monastery can brew whatever they want (and usually do). The relationship between the three beers is that one is stronger than the next: tripel being the strongest. It is important to understand that this applies only to the individual brewery - it does NOT mean that the tripel from brewery A must be stronger than the dubbel from brewery B. The tripel from brewery A should be stronger than the dubbel from brewery A. These names are relevant only to each brewery individually (I hope that is clear).

                                                                                                                                    In Belgium, there is only one monastery that makes a beer "stronger than its tripel" (that is, stronger than its own tripel). This beer, by the way, was first offered (1948) only as a Christmas beer. And later (1954), it was added as a part of the regular range. The beer is called Chimay Blue (or Chimay Grande Réserve when in the 75cl bottles). Blue is not a style, it is only a name.

                                                                                                                                    As I wrote earlier, Christmas beers are a tradition in Europe. This tradition goes back by centuries. Today, the Belgians, the Germans and the Scandinavians still do make these beers. The German range is extended during the holiday season by usually a double bock named something-ator. Salvator, Maximator, Optimator, for example. Alcohol can go as high as 12 percent ABV. So, a German quadrupel perhaps?

                                                                                                                                    In Norway, Sweden and Denmark, the beer is called Juleøl (with minor difference as not all three speak the same language). Like Germany and Belgium, it is higher alcohol, but unlike those countries, 6 percent ABV is considered higher alcohol there.

                                                                                                                                    Getting back to Belgium, there are three types (not styles) of beer there: Trappist, abbey and the rest. The rest is probably 70-80 percent of the beers. It includes everything from lambiek to lager.

                                                                                                                                    When Christmas beers are offered, they are mostly in the rest category with a few abbey beers as well. Just as the Germans call their Christmas beers something-ator with the description double bock (doppelbock in German), the Belgians describe many of their Christmas beers as gerstewijn (barley wine in English).

                                                                                                                                    To be more specific, there is in Belgium, as well as other brewing countries in Europe, a long tradition of making special beers at Christmas. As the winters are colder, the beer often (but not always) contained more alcohol to make people warm. They sometimes also contain some of the spice flavours that remind people of the season (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)

                                                                                                                                    The general name for these beers is winter or Christmas beers. As I wrote above, the Germans and Belgians have special words to describe the type of beer it is. The Germans offer their winter beers only in the winter. Some Belgian breweries brew a winter beer for the entire year. Germans drink beers that, on average, are of fairly moderate alcohol because typically they like to drink more than one serving of beer. Belgians, on the other hand, have a far greater selection of higher alcohol beers and they tend to drink less. So, for example, in 2012, Germans drank an average of 106.1 liters per person, while Belgians drank 74 liters per person. There are other factors as well of course.

                                                                                                                                    There are also, in several countries a special Spring beer called Maibock (Germany), Meibok (Belgium and the Netherlands) or Påskeøl (Denmark) that also have higher alcohol, though usually not as high a doppelbock.

                                                                                                                                    Both winter and spring beers are very old and traditional. Even as new breweries start, quite a few of them will make these seasonal beers as they remain quite popular.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                      Many years ago Aass Juleøl was sold in the US. I recall enjoying that one, along with their regular beers which, if I recall, had wonderful malt character and a fine bead.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                                                                        As I wrote, most of the Scandinavian and German winter beers are not as heavy on the alcohol as the Belgians. One of the best beers I ever drunk was a Swedish winter beer that was 10 years old at the time I drunk it. It was in a unique and wonderful pub in Copenhagen that, sadly, exists no more.

                                                                                                                            3. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                              It is not nice to bash American beer drinkers.

                                                                                                                              You might inform them of the ludicrous excesses in esteem they have in regards to American craft beer. Better to educate than fight.

                                                                                                                              1. re: jonkyo

                                                                                                                                You just shattered the myth of ludicrous excesses in esteem.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                            "I'll note that if you go to most countries in the world the single best selling liquid refreshment we produce here (Diet Coke) is called "Coke Light" for some reason."

                                                                                                                            Maybe because Coke Light is the label on the bottle? I was just at the supermarket and the guy in front of me had a large bottle of Coke. The label clearly said "Coke Light". I can only assume that the label was printed by Coke, because it did not look like the supermarket had done it.

                                                                                                                            You don't see a different between the two Cokes and Tripel and quadrupel?

                                                                                                                            1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                              You were going on about "history" being "rewritten" because "Tripels" are marketed as "Quadruples" here. You asked if that kind of thing happened with any american products over seas so I brought up Diet Coke versus "Coke Light". To me BOTH examples are simply product name differences. Im assuming whats in the bottle is the same stuff. So no I dont see a difference between Diet Coke being sold as "Coke Light" in Europe and certain types of Belgium defined Tripels being sold as "Quads" in the US. I hardly see either as "rewriting history" either. Just strategic marketing at worse.

                                                                                                                              All things evolve (no matter what the reason for the evolution). In 50 years people will be calling certain beers by certain names that make zero sense to us today. If we went back in time and gave a traditional English IPA brewer a swig of DFH 120 I'm not sure if they would spit it out in disgust or yell eureka but they sure wouldnt see it as anything like what they create. Thats in fact why I think its a good thing to allow name differentiation. It always annoys me when I hear some swill churner like Natural Light being described as a "true pilsner". It has about as much connection to a pilsner as a color by number painting has to do with a Monet masterpiece (or a Van Gogh for your sake). We could easily make them into two distinct styles with two distinct names but we insist on calling them both pilsners and I for one will be happier when garbage pilsners have a different term then top quality pilsners from say Pilsn or Bavaria or Downingtown... Wont you? Or will you be insulted on behalf of the american swill brand brewers that Natural Light is being marketed as an "Amerofoullager" or something?

                                                                                                                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                                Coke Diet and whatever are brand names for a multinational corporation.

                                                                                                                                Quadrupel is the brand name belonging to a monastery. Tripel is what? Not a style, not a brand name.

                                                                                                                                There goes your analogy. And what do we call that yellowish stuff that you didn't like? Pilsener? Same as over 100 years ago? IPA? Same as over 150 years ago? Porter, stout? All names from over 150 years ago.

                                                                                                                                The tastes may change over time, but the names? I don't think so.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                  Hold up so pilsner, porter, stout and IPA aren't styles either?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                    Excuse me? Where exactly did I say that?

                                                                                                                                  2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                    Clearly this begs the question what is the term Tripel then if not a style or a brand name. A... description? A Belgian code for "strongest"? Is there a parallel among american beers? And if its not a style what style is a Westmalle Tripel? Would a sentence like "this Tripel is a golden ale" actually make sense? And by the way I reject your notion that Quadrupel is ubiquitously and globally simply a brand name like Diet Coke. I understand Koningshoeven has a beer called "Quadrupel" which they treat as a brand. If you go to their product web site you find the picture Ive attached for their basic beer inventory. I couldnt find any "proper european" pictures of their product line. Just that one. Maybe Im missing the right web site because of my american ISP. who knows. But the point is Im not sure how a foreigner could ever tease out the fundamental difference between a Quad and all the rest of the beers that you are emphasizing here based on what we see and what we hear. To you, a quad is a tripel. To us a quad is a quad. To you, soccer is futbol. To us soccer is soccer. Most americans now understand that soccer is called futbol in most of the rest of the world but since we have a sport called football here we are fine with calling it soccer. So hows that for an analogy since you rejected my last one... Does it get you or other european sports fans upset that we call it soccer or do you understand that it helps us DIFFERENTIATE between futbol and football? After all who wants to get all excited to enjoy a nice dark rich malty raisony football game and then wind up with a mouth full of crisp sweet golden soccer? How annoying. If only someone had used a better description to warn us what we should have been expecting...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                                      Tripel is a relative term. It means this beer is stronger than that one.

                                                                                                                                      I don't know American beers and won't talk about something I don't know about.

                                                                                                                                      I have no idea what "futbol" is. I do know what football is and that is the sport that was just played in the World Cup. Yes, I know that in the US you also have a different game called football. If its not played with feet, why is called football? Perhaps because it's not based on football, but on rugby.

                                                                                                                                      Virtually your entire post is based solely on the American concept of styles and their "usefulness." Well, as far as I know, Belgium is not in the US and is not subject to US ideas. They have their own ideas, I suggest you contact them or their nearest consulate and file a complaint with them.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                        That's the thing Thomas. No one is upset that there is no such thing as a quadrupel in Belgium. Frankly I was happy to learn that and find it interesting. I'm not telling Belgians to rename their beers. I'm not going on belgian food or beer related websites and telling them to change their terminology.

                                                                                                                                        I think the point is different countries have different terms for the same thing. I'm ok that it's a boot in the UK and a trunk here.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                                          I think you're missing the point here a bit. The boot/trunk situation is not the same thing. And the issue is not about "different terms for the same thing."

                                                                                                                                          There are products made in Belgium and foreigners have come along and through lack of knowledge completely misjudged what was being made and what it was called. As I said long ago, if they wanted to make an English-language name for a real product, I would not have called it a myth.

                                                                                                                                          The key point is that this name is for a fantasy product, one that does not exist.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                            Please See Insidious Rex's post down below.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                              A quick google search shows me that there are plenty of Belgian breweries offering a "Quad" in the US market. On top of that, there are countless American breweries offering a Belgian style Quadruple.

                                                                                                                                              The fact that the Trappist breweries don't offer a beer by that name does not make it a "fantasy product".

                                                                                                                                          2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                            "... I suggest you contact them or their nearest consulate and file a complaint with them."


                                                                                                                                              1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                                I suggest you lose the condescending tone.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                              Yeah nice try turning the tables. We are perfectly fine with whatever the Belgians want to call their beers. You were the one that was originally bent out of shape because of the use of the term "Quadrupel" in the US.

                                                                                                                                              The irony here is most american craft beer fans take the BJCP with a grain of salt at the very least and only use it for very basic guidance when trying to figure out if something is a stout or a lambic or a pale ale. Otherwise a LOT of us think its fairly silly and there are many american brewers who actively rebel against the very notion of styles when brewing (which may ironically lead to the proliferation of styles over time). So getting red in the face about americans fixation with bjcp styles is mostly lost on many in this group who are fine with alterations and fusions and collaborations in their beer sampling. Furthermore, if we acted like Belgian beer was pedestrian or unworthy you could justify getting worked up about not even knowing the technical definitions of said beers. But most of this is coming because so many americans worship good Belgian beers and have been fed the term Quadrupel for better or worse. If we were saying those Tripels are terrible I only drink Quadrupels than maybe I can see why this particular crusade would be worthwhile. But we are saying the opposite... We are saying oh my goodness your beers are so good (yes I know you arent Belgian...)! We love your Dubbels, your Tripels and your Quads! And you are saying stupid american, you cant love them because Quads dont exist. Well what pretentious nonsense. If people are enjoying your beer then encourage them. Who cares how its marketed to them. And if you do have a problem with that take it up with the Belgian companies that benefit from marketing it that way.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                                                I've already answered most of your points. As I have already written several times, this is NOT a question of name A vs. name B.

                                                                                                                                                It was not my intent to start a long discussion or to upset anyone. To be honest, I have been quite surprised that some people seem to take this almost personally. As I write below, I agree with Michael Jackson, and most of you seem to disagree with him. That makes no sense to me.

                                                                                                                                                I am not going to continue repeating ad infinitum. This is my last post in this thread. But, I leave with one question that I would appreciate a reasonable reply to:

                                                                                                                                                Michael Jackson, as I have already written, is revered in the US for his beer writing and expertise. Here ( he wrote: "Dutch-language term usually applied to the strongest beer of the house…" which is basically all I have been saying.

                                                                                                                                                My question: if Michael Jackson is so revered, why do you now disagree with him?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                                  Dutch-language term usually applied to the strongest beer of the house, customarily top-fermenting often pale in colour, occasionally spiced with coriander. The most famous is made in Westmalle, Belgium.

                                                                                                                                                  I guess Americans took often pale in color to heart.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                                                    That's correct. However, my question was about the first part of the sentence, not the color.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                                    When did I say I disagreed with Michael Jackson? He's reporting the historical context when he says "usually" refers to the strongest beer brewed AND that its "often" pale in color (nevermind the distinction that "usually" is about as ambivalent a moderator as "often" in my book so that leaves much unsaid there...). Im pretty sure you can search every one of my posts and you will never find me using the words "no you are wrong". What you will find is that I imply that it doesnt really matter. the term is still legitimate simply by the fact its accepted and used by hundreds of thousands of beer drinkers AND the beer makers themselves. Im sure Mr. Jackson was trying to be technically accurate and keep his Belgian and Dutch beer contacts as happy as ever with that interestingly worded definition. But Im sure he understood the difference in reality between what most people call a Quad and what most people call a Tripel. Now you can go back to tut tutting american beer drinking linguistics to your hearts content and we can go back to drinking more delicious Belgian Quadrupels...

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                                                    You raise some interesting questions. I'd like to reply to them after you respond to the question in this message:


                                                                                                                                              2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                                By the way, if a Belgian brewery just makes one beer what do they call it? Wouldnt it be their weakest and strongest beer all at the same time?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                                    Orval makes two; Orval and Petite Orval (Patersbier).

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                      As far as I know, they only sell one. But, what's your point?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                                        You said "Ask Orval. That's what they do.", in regards to making only one beer.

                                                                                                                                                        I was just pointing out that they indeed make two beers.

                                                                                                                                                        What was your point?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                          Making, from what was written, I believe, means offering to the public. Orval only offers one. Which was the original point.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                                                                      Perhaps they should call it "Schrödinger's Tripel"...

                                                                                                  2. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                    I've spent a lot of time in Beligum, I've been to most of the Trappist monasteries and I have never (let me repeat that: never) tasted a beer as sweet as the one or two American beers I have tasted that claimed to be copies of a Belgian tripel or something similar. Don't assume that what you've experienced in the US is similar to what is available in Belgium or wherever.

                                                                                                    In the beer shop, I usually buy beers I've already tried. If I buy new beers, I usually pick breweries that I am familiar with and that I trust to make something good. It's not perfect, but it works far more than it fails.

                                                                                                    1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                      I was referring to all beers whether they are American, Canadian, Belgian or wherever. While I haven't spent a lot of time in Belgium I have been there a couple of times and tried beers that are not exported to the US. I have found that beers that meet the description I have in my head for a Quadrupel generally fall in the not to my taste category. This goes for American and Belgian Beers. Don't assume that I only drink American beers or haven't traveled.

                                                                                                      In the beer shop I do the exact same thing. We have a pretty wide array of beer stores and product available in NYC so sometimes I do end up buying some new products I have never had. Some beer stores arrange beers by the American definition of style and I find this helpful. If I am going to try a new brewery why not try a style I prefer. I am not going to write off a brewery because I tried a beer I am naturally inclined to dislike. Makes sense no?

                                                                                                      I tend to use styles as a very rough guideline.

                                                                                                      I am also wondering if the term "finding" something loses something in translation or if it is an American English meaning that doesn't translate into British English the same way. That is if you learned British English rather than American.

                                                                                                  3. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                    Also, sorry I am at work and can't respond to the rest of your post but I am in general agreement with you minus one or two points. I will reply later, unless I sample too many during the Netherlands/Argentina game....

                                                                                3. You just shattered the myth of Trappist ales.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                    Seems like jonkyo has more than one account....

                                                                                  2. This whole premise seem silly to me.
                                                                                    Language changes constantly.
                                                                                    Every word for a Beer classification or style had to be new at some point.
                                                                                    There is a pretty hot and heavy exchange going on between American Brewers and Belgium Brewers and it goes both ways.

                                                                                    The Myth is that anyone can control the evolution of Language

                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: chefj

                                                                                      You just shattered the myth of evolving linguistic control.

                                                                                      1. re: chefj

                                                                                        Yes, language changes, but classifications do not. If classifications changed, they would be useless.

                                                                                        1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                          of course classifications change. classification is a tool toward explaining differentiation and as we discover new things differentiation by definition requires RE-classification of known things. If you just look at the explosion of IPA's and IPA like beers you can see this. "Dark India Pale Ale" is a meaningless term but we all know exactly what it means.

                                                                                          On a mostly unrelated note, are sample flights (small sized tastings of different beers usually in groups of 4 or more at a time) common in Belgium/Netherlands/Holland/Germany? Or are they something you would never find? They are pretty standard in the US especially a brew pubs and when they come out they are usually followed by an explanation of each ("this is our house IPA, this is our house amber, this is our house wheat, etc.") . IF they exist there what do they say when they put them down? "here are some of our beers"? or do they just say "thats the Tripel" and walk away?

                                                                                          1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                            Can't speak for Belgium/Netherlands/Holland/Germany but in the UK a lot of pubs will offer you 3 1/3 of a pint for the price of a pint. You often get a rack to put the glasses in. It's not really a flight as such as you get to pick the beers. I usually ask how light, hoppy, dark, sweet etc a beer is before choosing.. Most good places will offer a sip before you buy anyway.

                                                                                            1. re: Paprikaboy

                                                                                              Will they give you any indication of a style the beers might be?

                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                Outside of porters, stouts lagers, mild and IPAs then in terms of style it's all just ales really for myself and a lot of pubs.

                                                                                                When you go to the bar to order the clips on the front of the pumps will usually give you a good indication. A porter, stout, lager IPA, and mild (sometimes best bitter) will often be specifically indicated. Outside these styles there are other less obvious indicators on the clips, ABV , name of the beer and even the style of the clip itself can give an idea of the skind of the beer. Often if I'm not sure I'll ask but often I'll just take a punt to see if I'm right about the beer just from the clip. Sometimes I might get a dark ale when I'm expecting something lighter but more often than not the beer is as expected even if it's not particularly good.

                                                                                            2. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                              Classifications do not change on a item unless the item changes. Of course classification "changes" when new things are discovered. Take dogs, for example. Type A dog does not change unless all the Type A dogs change.

                                                                                              So, a Tripel does not become a quadrupel unless the Tripel changes. After the single beer Quadrupel from the Dutch Trappist was introduced, not a single Belgian Trappist changed their beers. Neither the name or the recipe was changed. Therefore, those beers did NOT become quadrupels because nothing has changed.

                                                                                              There are not many brewpubs here in the American sense, I think. Although, that is changing fast in Amsterdam. In Bavaria, for example, there are many breweries with pubs, yet they look and feel like regular pubs. Glassware is a pretty important thing in this part of the world. Whether a brewer or a pub, they will stock the proper glass for each beer. Adding small glasses to the existing stock could be difficult (storage). These brewery tap rooms will also offer not so many beers because they usually brew only a few. Here is one of these places I visited a couple of months ago:
                                                                                              I thought the place was wonderful - one of the nicest examples of a brewery pub in Bavaria. They offer three regular beers and a seasonal. They are also focussed on their local customers, not on tourists. Their local customer know their beers and don't need samples. This is true for the vast majority of pubs in this part of the world: with a few exceptions (such as some of the pubs here), most are oriented toward local customers. In Britain, a common expression is "he's at the local" (he's at the pub).

                                                                                              Here in Amsterdam, we have a few pubs that are aimed at the more enthusiastic or interested beer drinker. Although I don't recall seeing such a thing there, it wouldn't surprise me if they offered it. In Germany, in Düsseldorf and Cologne there are brewpubs for Alt and Kölsch. They serve only one beer and the glasses are only 20cl, so they are small.

                                                                                              So, no it is not at all common. I'd guess it's very unlikely anywhere in Germany and very rare in the other countries. (Holland is part of the Netherlands, by the way).

                                                                                            3. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                              A compact car today, and a compact car 20 years ago are quite different, for just one example of how classifications change.

                                                                                              1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                That's not a classification, that's marketing.

                                                                                                1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                                                                  and marketing doesn't effect classifications?

                                                                                            4. The post is too long for a quick read. I might have to print it, though, monastic life is seen by myself in a romantic manner. I would love to join some nuns and monks in partying with beer, good beer, in the confines of their dwellings.

                                                                                              I have only ventured to such in accordance to religious respect.

                                                                                              As for the Belgium, I had a crush on one in London, and it would have been an outing for beer, at Lowlanders, that would have impressed her.

                                                                                              Thus stated, I do find , as they hover high in altitude (popularity amongst knowledge based enthusiasts), the Belgium beers that is, not so much to my liking. Too rich in taste. Perhaps the nuns and the monks would boot me out, if I brought such opinion to my lips.

                                                                                              While the Dutch are 'far more commercial', I do find that the Lithuanians are under-observed for their nack, at making good beer.

                                                                                              Lowlanders by the way, is an interesting pub in London that includes beers from the Lowland, "Low Countries - meaning Belgium and Holland".

                                                                                              many delicious beers on tap in the area you seem familiar with, Dutch and Belgium brewing.