Belgian beer culture has been a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage Sitesince 2016. This is in recognition of the historical methods used there, such as spontaneous fermentation, wooden barrel aging, and the use of herbs, fruits, and spices. Added to this is the diversity of styles. It is enormous, especially when measured against the size of the country.
Numerous beer styles have been created in Belgium. Witbier, for example. Or the spontaneously fermented lambic. The top-fermented strong beer styles Dubbel, Tripel and Quadrupel also come from Europe's west. They were created by the monastery breweries of Belgium.
As with most beer styles, it is impossible to say exactly when and where Dubbel originated. Like many old styles, it "grew" over the course of long processes. Beer styles as we know them today are an "invention" of the 20th century anyway. In any case, the terms Dubbel, Tripel and Quadrupel refer to stronger varieties in each case; but not to the fact that a Dubbel is fermented twice, a Tripel three times, and so on.
One of the many traces leads to the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle. Some believe that the first Dubbel was brewed there. This is the story:
On December 10, 1836, the monks of the monastery were served the first beer of their own production. It was the simple beer of the day. Sweet, dark, hearty. Twenty years later, sales began, at first only occasionally, at the monastery gate. The beer business soon flourished, more was brewed, and the recipes were varied. To the simple monastery beer came the stronger Dubbel, the designation works like the Italian "Doppio Malto". The strong, aromatic alternative was so successful that the brewery had to be expanded.
Anno 1926, the recipewas modified. The addition of caramelized sugar made flavors of caramel and raisins more prominent in the beer. The alcohol content was adjusted to 7% by volume. This made it possible to satisfy the then widespread desire for strong stuff. Today, Westmalle Dubbel is considered exemplary for this style.