Belgian-Based Head-Shaking

This article in the Washington Post is a week old now, so some of you may have already seen it, particularly since it is not without its controversial aspects. But Joe just brought it to my attention, and so I’m bringing it to yours.

Or, rather, I’m bringing one line of it to your attention, from paragraph two and with emphasis added by yours truly:

The syrupy liquid was 10 percent alcohol and combined the dried-fruit flavors of a quadrupel, a traditional Belgian abbey ale, with the roasted-coffee notes common in American stouts.

No! No! No! There is nothing traditional about a so-called quadrupel, unless your definition of tradition stretches all the way back to 1991. And for that matter, there’s little “Belgian” about a beer invented in the Netherlands, which is where Koningshoeven/La Trappe created said beer in the aforementioned year of 1991.

This, as I have noted before, really gets on my wick. Because while it’s one thing to debate the vagaries of styles such as double IPAs and Imperial pilsners, it’s quite another to take a beer name coined two decades ago, invent a style out of it and then apply that style retroactively to beers that have been around for decades prior.

So stop it, please. Just…stop…it.


5 Replies to “Belgian-Based Head-Shaking”

    To be honest, the same principle should apply to “Imperial Pilsner”.
    What is the difference between an Imperial Pilsner and a Helles Bock, or a +16º Balling světlý speciál or, if we are speaking about an +18º pale lager, a Slovak Světlý Porter?
    Imperial Pilsner is giving a style to something that has already existed for quite some time, really.

  2. Stephen, I could not agree more. That enthusiasm has replaced reason among “beer geeks” and those who rewrite history to suit their own uninformed opinions is sad indeed.

    What, in this case, is especially pitiful, is that the Catholic Church is built around the Holy Trinity and monastic breweries since the 9th century have never brewed more than three beers (with one exception) and yet, they think that four is a perfectly acceptable number to an organisation that is founded on three.

  3. This reminds me of the sort of silliness that took place in the food world during the nouvelle cuisine craze of the nineties. Dishes were given names completely in defiance of tradition, or even meaning, just because tit sounded good.

  4. Maybe I’ve been away from Belgium too long already, but I just can’t get worked up about the “quadrupel” issue. When a brewery refers to one of its beers as a “quadrupel”, I know what they mean, even if I would have rather seen “dark and strong.”

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