By: David Wren
Have you ever had a juicy venison steak with a typical lager and thought to yourself, “There has to be a better beer to go with this”? What about a dessert of super-rich chocolate cake and wanted a beer to wash it down with rather than wine or liquor? Are you the type of person who walks into a room and immediately sizes up every guy there to find the biggest, baddest one to pick a fight with?
If any of these questions resonated with you, then look no further than the Belgian Strong Dark Ale (Quadrupel or Quad) style as your target tipple. The strongest of the Belgian ales and on the same level of vigor as the American Barleywine and Russian Imperial Stout, the Quad is a formidable opponent, indeed. Ranging between 8.0-11.0% ABV, the Quad packs the kind of body that would have the Commodores singing “Brick House.” Similar to the other Belgian numeric styles (Singel, Dubbel, and Tripel), the Quad was brewed by and relied upon by Trappist monks for sustenance during periods of fasting. They packed enough grain and goodness into these beers that they could sustain themselves for long periods by solely drinking Quads. For the rest of us, the Belgian Quad serves as one of the unique beasts in the beer world. They range from dark brown to black, with a beautiful tan head in color, and from dry to sweet in finish. They tend to drop a malt-bomb on the unsuspecting first-timer, but soon after reveal a complexity in flavor impossible to accomplish in most other styles. Flavors of caramel, toast and brea,d mixed with dark fruits like raisins, plums, black cherries, figs or prunes abound. Layered on top of the malty and fruity base can be peppery or spicy phenols (yeast by-products), as well as whatever adjunct flavors the brewer experiments with. Hops are very subdued, so drinkers who don’t prefer excessive bitterness can easily enjoy this style. If you are looking for a unique experience in beer drinking, try one of the following Quads brewed right here in Virginia.
Quads to Try:
Lickinghole Creek’s Bachelor’s Delight
As formidable as the pirate ship for which it is named. Take a swig and you won’t care why the rum is all gone…
Garden Grove’s Death
A beer so monstrous you might wonder how they managed to keep it locked up in red wine barrels to age – a great companion to rich desserts.
Hardywood Park’s Bourbon Barrel Cru
Bourbon to beer is like bacon to food – it just makes everything better. It’s the perfect beer for a cold night and a bonfire.
An easy sipper that packs a punch - It is tough to beat a classic!
Beer and Food Pairing
One of the major considerations to take when pairing beer and food is the relative intensities of beers and foods. If serving a light vinaigrette salad, a ferociously intense Belgian Quad is a poor choice – the beer will drown the flavors of the salad completely. Beer “intensity” is a product of its roastiness, body, bitterness, strength, or other factors affecting flavor and weight –- trust your taste buds! Quads pair well with strongly flavored or gamey meat, like venison, wild boar, pheasant, or duck. They also pair well with rich and decadent desserts like chocolate truffles or cheesecake.