6 Best Belgian Quads of 2021

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(Photography courtesy of Brewery Ommegang)

With its signature rich, malty flavor, medium bitterness, and impressive ABV, the Belgian quad is a beer which has stood the test of time – literally. A subcategory of Belgian strong ale, the quad or "quadrupel" has a fascinating history and delectable flavor profile. The Belgian quad has roots dating back to the sixth century in Europe when monks brewed beer. Both make learning about this storied European style worthwhile. And of course great reasons to try a few. 

Technically considered a Trappist style of brewing, Belgian quads are traditionally brewed by Trappist monks in abbeys across Belgium and Europe. The actual term "Trappist" comes from a Cistercian monastery in Normandy, France called La Grande Trappe Abbey. Here, during the seventeenth century, a movement started to return to an austere way of life and religious practice. Those involved earned the nickname, "Trappists." 

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Historically, Trappists began brewing in monasteries as a way to create potable water. But it was also a means to generate income for the monastery and local community.

Over time the tradition of brewing within monasteries grew.

Famous Belgian Trappist beers including dubbels and tripels began to emerge in the mid-1800s from monsastaries such as Westmalle and Westvleteren (a monastery that makes one of the rarest beers in the world today).

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However, the quadrupel wouldn't make an appearance until 1991 when Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven Brewery, a Dutch Trappist Brewery in the Netherlands, brewed the first quad called La Trappe Quadrupel. 

Today, this still remains one of the top Belgian quads in the world. But the style has gained popularity in America and beyond, influencing a generation of brewers. Inspired by the complex flavors from the unique Belgian ingredients in quadrupels, brewers across the United States have dabbled in creating delicious offerings of their own.

It's important to note that this style isn't technically defined by where it's brewed today. In other words, modern world brewers do make Belgian quads without having to brew them in a monastery (although only beers brewed in abbeys recognized by the International Trappist Association can be considered "Trappist"). What really defines this style are the ingredients. Belgian malt, Belgian yeast, and oftentimes Belgian candi sugar are some of the crucial components to a Belgian quad. 

We have that magical combination to thank for the rich roasted malt character, spicy dark fruit notes such as figs, raisins, dates, and plums, and the warming booziness of Belgian quads. From one of the rarest beers in the world from a traditional Belgian abbey to an iconic American version from a brewery in upstate New York here are Untappd's 6 Highest-Rated Belgian Quads of 2021:

1. Trappist Westvleteren 12 - Brouwerij De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren

2. La Trappe Quadrupel - Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven

3. Skyscraper - Nøgne Ø

4. Warmth - Tree House Brewing Company

5. The Reverend - Avery Brewing Co. 

6. Three Philosophers Double Chocolate - Brewery Ommegang

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