The Richness of Abbey Ales

Belgian Strong Dark , also known as Abbey Ale, is a style of that originated in Belgium. It is often associated with the Trappist monks, who are known for their expertise. While Abbey Ales are similar to Trappist ales, there are some key differences between the two.

Abbey Ales are brewed in the same style as Trappist ales, but they are not brewed within the walls of a monastery or abbey. Instead, they are brewed by secular breweries, either on the monastic estate or in reference to the abbey. This distinction is important because it indicates that the beer is not brewed by monks, although it may still be brewed using traditional monastic recipes and methods.

The main characteristic of Abbey Ales is their intensity. These beers typically have a higher content, ranging from 8% to 9.5%, compared to other Belgian beer styles. This higher alcohol content gives Abbey Ales a stronger and more robust flavor profile.

One of the defining features of Abbey Ales is their fruit character. These beers often have a rich and complex fruitiness, with flavors of cherry, apple, and sometimes even chocolate. The combination of fruity notes and a -forward profile creates a unique and enjoyable drinking experience.

Another notable aspect of Abbey Ales is their sweetness. These beers often have a toffee-like sweetness that balances out the higher alcohol content and fruit flavors. This sweetness adds depth and complexity to the beer, making it a delight to savor.

Abbey Ales are best enjoyed with food, particularly with lamb and game meats. The rich and malty flavors of the beer complement the robust flavors of these meats, creating a harmonious pairing.

Abbey Ales are a style of beer that intensifies the character of the classic dubbel. They are brewed in the same style as Trappist ales, but without the direct involvement of monks. Abbey Ales are known for their higher alcohol content, fruit character, and sweetness. When well brewed, these beers can be a delightful accompaniment to lamb and game meats. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the spiritual satisfaction of an Abbey Ale.

Belgian Strong Dark Ale 1688103781

What Is An Abbey Style Ale?

Abbey style ale, also known as Belgian strong dark ale, is a type of beer that originates from the brewing traditions of Belgian abbeys. It is characterized by its high alcohol content, typically ranging from 8% to 9.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), which is higher than the average beer.

Abbey style ales are known for their intense and complex flavor profiles. They often exhibit rich maltiness, with notes of caramel, toffee, and dark fruit such as raisins, figs, and plums. These flavors are complemented by a range of spices and -driven esters, which can contribute to a variety of fruity and spicy aromas.

Due to their higher alcohol content and robust flavors, abbey style ales are often enjoyed as sipping beers rather than session beers. They are best served in a goblet or tulip-shaped glass to enhance their aromas and promote a pleasant drinking experience.

When it comes to food pairings, abbey style ales are particularly well-suited to complement rich and hearty dishes. They can be excellent companions to lamb and game meats, as their bold flavors can stand up to the strong flavors of these meats. The fruity and spicy notes of the beer can also complement the earthy flavors of dishes prepared with mushrooms or root vegetables.

Abbey style ale is a strong and flavorful beer that originated from Belgian abbeys. It boasts a higher alcohol content and offers a complex taste profile, often featuring maltiness, dark fruit flavors, and spices. When paired with appropriate dishes, such as lamb or game meats, it can create a delightful culinary experience.

What Flavor Is Abbey Ale?

Abbey Ale is a beer that offers a unique flavor profile. It is known for its sweet and mellow taste, which is reminiscent of a party thrown by monks. The beer starts off with a toffee nose, giving it a rich and inviting aroma.

When it comes to the taste, Abbey Ale delivers a perfect blend of richness and maltiness. It hits your taste buds with a combination of flavors, including cherry, chocolate, and apple. These flavors come together harmoniously, creating a complex and enjoyable drinking experience.

To summarize, Abbey Ale is a beer that offers a sweet and mellow flavor, with hints of toffee, cherry, chocolate, and apple. It is a beer that is spiritually satisfying and provides a unique taste experience for those who enjoy it.

What Is The Difference Between Trappist And Abbey Beer?

Trappist beers and abbey beers have distinct differences, despite their shared origins in monastic brewing traditions. The main difference lies in the brewing process and the ownership of the breweries.

Trappist beers are a specific type of abbey beer that are still exclusively brewed by Trappist monks within the walls of their monastery. These beers are produced within the confines of the monastery and are overseen by the monks themselves. Trappist breweries adhere strictly to certain principles, such as brewing within the monastic community, maintaining economic self-sufficiency, and prioritizing charitable causes.

On the other hand, abbey beers are beers that were originally brewed by monks but are now produced by secular breweries, often located either on the monastic estate or in reference to the abbey. While the recipes and branding may still be influenced by the monastic tradition, these beers are no longer brewed exclusively by monks. Instead, secular breweries have taken over the production and distribution, sometimes in collaboration with the abbey or under license.

To summarize the differences between Trappist and abbey beers:

Trappist Beers:
– Brewed exclusively by Trappist monks within the monastery
– Produced within the monastic community, following strict principles
– Prioritize economic self-sufficiency and charitable causes

Abbey Beers:
– Originally brewed by monks, but now produced by secular breweries
– Breweries may be located on the monastic estate or reference the abbey
– Recipes and branding still influenced by the monastic tradition, but not brewed exclusively by monks

While all Trappist beers are considered abbey beers, not all abbey beers are Trappist. The distinction lies in the ownership and brewing process, with Trappist beers being exclusively produced by monks within the monastery, while abbey beers are now brewed by secular breweries with ties to the monastic tradition.


Abbey Ales, also known as Belgian strong dark ales or abbey beers, are a style of beer that intensifies the character of the classic dubbel. With higher alcohol content ranging from 8% to 9.5%, these beers offer a delightful combination of rich maltiness and fruity flavors. While Trappist ales are brewed within the walls of a monastery by Trappist monks, abbey beers are brewed by secular breweries either on the monastic estate or in reference to the abbey. Abbey ales have a unique charm, reminiscent of a monk-led celebration, with a slightly sweet and mellow profile that provides a spiritually satisfying experience. These beers often exhibit a toffee nose, followed by a harmonious blend of cherry, chocolate, and apple flavors. They pair exceptionally well with lamb and game meats, making for a truly enjoyable drinking experience. Whether brewed by monks or secular breweries, abbey ales continue to captivate beer enthusiasts with their rich history and exquisite taste.

Photo of author

Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.