Blondes have more fun
A Review of True Blonde Dubbel by Ska Brewing Co.
Posted on 6/30/2015 by Chops
Navigating the insanely diverse craft beer world can be a daunting task for any novice. Once you get past the intro glut of lagers, pale ales and wheat beers, the veritable cornucopia of choice explodes in all directions. Belgians are perhaps the most difficult avenue to take, often regarded as the Cadillacs of beers. With massive ABVs and mind-blowing complexity, these beers can be quite difficult to wrap your head around.

This is why I often recommend that novices start their Belgian journeys with non-Belgian versions. What are these you ask? These are Belgian-style beers brewed by non-Belgian breweries. They are interpretive versions that combine the best of both worlds while offering paths of familiarity. I recently came across one such example: the True Blonde Dubbel, crafted by the Ska Brewing Company out of Durango, Colorado.

As a quick side note, ''Blonde Dubbel'' is a bit of a misnomer. There are Belgian Blonde Ales, described as golden ales with sweet and dry characters, and there are Belgian Dubbel Ales, described as malt-forward reddish amber ales. Both offer big flavors and wide complexity under the umbrella of Belgian Strong Ales. The reason I point this out is that Belgian purists may scoff at this beer as a bastardization. However, this is a Belgian-style beer crafted by a American brewery with an American attitude. This is why I noted earlier that it's often best to start with non-Belgian Belgians. In other words, let's ditch the snobbery and just enjoy a damn good beer.

In the glass, this beer had a bright sunny yellow coloration with some orange hues. It came with a frothy white head that had good retention. On the nose, I found notes of sweet bread, honey, orange citrus, and a dusting of spices. Based on introduction alone, this beer definitely leaned more towards the Blonde spectrum.

The flavor ended up mirroring the aroma quite well with notes of bread, honey, citrus, and spices. Rounding out the mix were notes of lemongrass, banana, and light fruits akin to pear. When it came to taste, the beer also leaned to the Blonde side. The Dubbel aspects appeared as a sweetened malty base with the respectable sting of an 8% ABV. The hops profile was quite mild and offered some bitterness to the finish. The beer had a medium body and felt smooth on the palate with the exception of a mild tangy character. The finish was dry and exited with a tart citrus aftertaste.

Overall, I found Ska's True Blonde Dubbel to be a tasty interpretation. While more Blonde than Dubbel, the beer hit on numerous high points of each style. The result was a fun and engaging Americanized version with a much wider appeal. Consequently, this is a beer that I can recommend to most beer fans. I only caution novices because of the strength, as the well-hidden ABV can sneak up on you in a hurry. But as long as you give this beer the respect it deserves, then you are in for a very rewarding experience. I really enjoyed this brew and look forward to more Durango-Belgium hybrids.

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True Blonde Dubbel by Ska Brewing Co.
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