Style Details

Bel­gi­an Dark Strong Ale
Trap­pist Ale
BJCP Style Code
26 D
Deep amber to deep cop­pery-brown in color (dark in this con­text impli­es more deep­ly colo­red than gol­den). Huge, den­se, moussy, per­sis­tent cream- to light tan-colo­red head. Can be clear to some­what hazy.
Com­plex, with a rich-sweet mal­ty pre­sence, signi­fi­cant esters and alco­hol, and an optio­nal light to mode­ra­te spi­ci­ness. The malt is rich and strong, and can have a deep brea­dy-toasty qua­li­ty often with a deep cara­mel com­ple­xi­ty. The frui­ty esters are strong to modera­te­ly low, and can con­tain rai­sin, plum, dried cher­ry, fig or pru­ne notes. Spi­cy phe­nols may be pre­sent, but usual­ly have a pep­pery qua­li­ty not clove-like; light vanil­la is pos­si­ble. Alco­hols are soft, spi­cy, per­fumy and/or rose-like, and are low to mode­ra­te in inten­si­ty. Hops are not usual­ly pre­sent (but a very low spi­cy, flo­ral, or her­bal hop aro­ma is accep­ta­ble). No dark/roast malt aro­ma. No hot alco­hols or sol­ven­ty aromas.
Simi­lar to aro­ma (same malt, ester, phe­nol, alco­hol, and hop comm­ents app­ly to fla­vor as well). Modera­te­ly mal­ty-rich on the pala­te, which can have a sweet impres­si­on if bit­ter­ness is low. Usual­ly modera­te­ly dry to dry finish, alt­hough may be up to modera­te­ly sweet. Medi­um-low to mode­ra­te bit­ter­ness; alco­hol pro­vi­des some of the balan­ce to the malt. Gene­ral­ly mal­ty-rich balan­ce, but can be fair­ly even with bit­ter­ness. The com­plex and varied fla­vors should blend smooth­ly and har­mo­nious­ly. The finish should not be hea­vy or syrupy.
High car­bo­na­ti­on but not sharp. Smooth but noti­ceable alco­hol warmth. Body can ran­ge from medi­um-light to medi­um-full and cre­a­my. Most are medium-bodied.
Over­all Impression
A dark, com­plex, very strong Bel­gi­an ale with a deli­cious blend of malt rich­ness, dark fruit fla­vors, and spi­cy ele­ments. Com­plex, rich, smooth and dangerous.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Bel­gi­an yeast strains pro­ne to pro­duc­tion of hig­her alco­hols, esters, and some­ti­mes phe­n­o­lics are com­mon­ly used. Impres­si­on of a com­plex grain bill, alt­hough many tra­di­tio­nal ver­si­ons are quite simp­le, with cara­me­li­zed sugar syrup or unre­fi­ned sug­ars and yeast pro­vi­ding much of the com­ple­xi­ty. Saa­zer-type, Eng­lish-type or Sty­ri­an Gol­dings hops com­mon­ly used. Spi­ces gene­ral­ly not used; if used, keep subt­le and in the background. 
Most ver­si­ons are uni­que in cha­rac­ter reflec­ting cha­rac­te­ristics of indi­vi­du­al bre­we­ries, pro­du­ced in limi­t­ed quan­ti­ties and often high­ly sought-after.
Authen­tic Trap­pist ver­si­ons tend to be drier (Bel­gi­ans would say more diges­ti­ble) than Abbey ver­si­ons, which can be rather sweet and full-bodi­ed. Tra­di­tio­nal­ly bot­t­le-con­di­tio­ned (or refer­men­ted in the bot­t­le). Some­ti­mes known as a Trap­pist Qua­dru­ple, most are sim­ply known by their strength or color designation.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Achel Extra Bru­ne, Bou­le­vard The Sixth Glass, Chi­may Gran­de Réser­ve, Gou­den Caro­lus Grand Cru of the Emper­or, Roche­fort 8 & 10, St. Ber­nar­dus Abt 12, West­v­le­te­ren 12
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.075 - 1.110 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.010 - 1.024 SG
12 - 22 SRM
8.0 - 12.0 %vol
20 - 35 IBU