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The four grades of Trappist beer are Enkel, Dubbel, Triple and Quadrupel. Dubbel and triple are most common and occasionally, we see quadrupel.  

Is there a history account of how the grades were called as they are?

But why are Enkel not seen publicly? Is there a reason for the secrecy or is it that dubbel is too light be to call a trappist?

  • enkel is not used anymore. now they are called pater. – kehuai Dec 17 '17 at 15:38
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The Dubbel/Triple/Quad designations are totally separate from the Trappist label.

The Trappists are an official Catholic religious order that follow the rules of St. Benedict, one of which states "for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands". The monasteries all make goods, most commonly beer and cheese, that they sell in order to fund themselves. Several of the monasteries form the International Trappist Association in order to prevent anyone who's not actually a part of the order from using the name Trappist on their products.

But Trappist ale isn't really a style, it's a commercial seal like "Organic". Both Dubbel and Tripel originated as names of specific beers brewed by Trappists at the Westmalle abbey. Dubbel coming to use in the 1850s and Tripel (1950s) being a renamed and slightly hoppier version of what the monks used to call Superbier (1930s). Quadrupel is a brand of La Trappe made at the Koningshoeven abbey, which was probably introduced some time in the 1990's. Koningshoeven Also used to market a beer named Enkel, but stopped production in 2000.

In all cases the popularity of the beers led to imitation by other brewers which sort of turned their brand names into loose stylistic designations. It'd be like if people started imitating Stone's Arrogant Bastard and started producing their own Arrogant ale.

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The dubbel/tripel classifications come from the process of parti-gyle brewing: tripels come from the extremely high gravity (~1.080 gravity) first runnings of the wort from the lauter tun to boil pot; dubbels come from the slightly lower (~1.060 gravity) second runnings. The term "enkel" does not figure into Stan Hieronymus's Brew Like a Monk, but according to the Wikipedia article on "Trappist beer":

Enkel, meaning "single", is a term formerly used by the Trappist breweries to describe the basic recipe of their beers.

This makes sense, considering the classifications "dubbel" and "tripel" simply refer to different stages of brewing one recipe. Also worth noting is that the "quadrupel" is not a traditional Trappist beer designation.

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The name 'Enkel' simply isn't used anymore. Enkel means 'single', meaning it is the strength of beer made by the abbey without doing anything extra to it.

Several (most? all?) of the Trappist abbeys sell a beer the ~6% range, dubbel and tripel, are stronger, but not double or triple alcohol content. I can only speculate as to whether anything is doubled or tripled to get those styles. Double or triple amounts of grain should give quite a bit higher alcohol than they actually have. Any Trappists on this site to explain?

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Indeed to confirm what others have said above, it is my understanding that the enkel or single bier was consumed by the monks, to prevent them from getting drunk all the time because it was weak bier, but they sold the stronger biers (dubbel, tripel etc...) to make money. Which is also why you don't see enkel biers in stores today.

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