Belgian Dark Strong Ale (26D)

Style Characteristics

SRM Range:12 - 22
IBU Range:20 - 35
OG Range:1.075 - 1.11
FG Range:1.01 - 1.024
ABV Range:8% - 12%

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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.

Style History:

Most versions are unique in character reflecting characteristics of individual breweries, produced in limited quantities and often highly sought-after.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Like a larger dubbel, with a fuller body and increased malt richness. Not as bitter or hoppy as a tripel, but of similar strength.

Commercial Styles:

Achel Extra Brune