I was a little surprised with my experience with Westmalle Dubbel, considering their tripel is generally regarded as the benchmark of the style. In fact, it ranks very high on my Top 20 list. But the dubbel left just a little to be desired, especially when compared to its peer group in the Trappist/Abbey category.
Poured with a rich mahogony coloring and a decent head that hung around for a bit. Aroma was earthy, a pretty balanced mix between caramel and some fruity esters. I get some plum. Solid yeast backbone. Also seemed hoppier, maybe even spicier, than other Trappist dubbels like Chimay Premiere, for example.
While the introduction was pleasant overall, Westmalle Dubbel fell flat on the back end for me. A very dry, very bitter characteristic with not much of the malty sweetness that I look for in a dubbel. Not very complex or interesting. It almost bordered on sour, the furthest thing from rich and creamy. I was a bit surprised by all of this. Also a fairly weak mouthfeel, thin and a bit watery. Again, not what I expected. Didn’t pick up any alcohol in the finish, which was good. But that might be the only redeeming quality to the taste experience.
I feel like I need to give this one another shot at some point given Westmalle’s reputation. When I look back at my review of their tripel, I wonder if Westmalle just trends to the drier, spicier side of the equation, even in a beer that isn’t generally supposed to take on those qualities. To be fair, it’s better than some dubbels I’ve had, but not nearly what I’d expect from a Trappist brewery of its ilk. Bit of a disappointment.