Tag Archives: Tripel

Tripel Month Wrap-Up

I am a big fan of the Belgian tripel style, it might be lighter in color but it still packs bold flavor and alcoholic punch. I was disappointed at how few examples I was able to try after naming it the style of the month for March, there are relatively few breweries making tripels. I think tripels are an under utilized style, there is an opportunity in the market for more versions. I would especially love to see some more experimental versions, especially ones with large late doses of New World hops. Come on, who is going to say no to a beer with fruity hops, complex Belgian style yeast and a big hit of booze? Hopefully a few local breweries see this potential and start tinkering with tripel recipes. Here are a few superlative awards base on tripels I have tasted and reviewed, the links lead to the full review when it’s available. Now we are onto April, and the style of the month will be American Pale Ales!

Westmalle TripelThe OG of tripels: Westmalle Tripel. They literally invented the style, and their version is still full of flavor and very easy to drink for a bigger beer.

The “classic for a reason” award: Allagash Tripel. Allagash gets a lot of well-deserved props for their barrel aged and wild ales, but their flagship beers are all stellar versions of classic Belgian styles.

Victory Golden MonkeyA strong runner up in the category: Victory Golden Monkey. Another delicious beer that is readily available and worth re-visiting if it’s been a while.

Tripel that should be part of your regular beer rotation: Slumbrew Trekker Trippel. One of Slumbrew’s flagship beers, bold and boozy with complex flavor. Now available in cans!

Proof that more breweries need to barrel age their tripels: Allagash Curieux. We have so many barrel aged imperial stouts and we are seeing more quads and barleywines, but it’s amazing that more breweries haven’t aged their tripels. Maybe they just realize it would be hard to compete with bourbon barrel aged Curieux.

Overshores Tripel BrunMost interesting experiment with the style: Overshores Tripel Brun. Overshores went the non-traditional route, adding caramel malt and making a slightly darker version of the classic style.

The beer I am really missing this spring: Pretty Things Fluffy White Rabbits. One of my favorite Pretty Things beers, great use of hops to complement the flavors provided by the yeast. I would love to be drinking a bottle of this right now. Anyone have a good clone recipe?

My favorite local tripel: Idle Hands Triplication. It is good to see Idle Hands back on store shelves, and I am looking forward to checking out their new space. I am hoping that Triplication returns to the regular rotation (and it would be nice to see it in some smaller-form bottles or cans, 750 mL is a lot of tripel).

Cheers!

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Victory Golden Monkey

My final review for tripel month is Golden Monkey from Victory Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. I came up a little short on examples this month, I think it is clear that more breweries need to give this style a shot. It is funny how a beer’s name can result in immediate preconceptions about the flavor. I hesitated to try Golden Monkey for years because I assumed the title was reference to a strong banana flavor in the beer. I am not a picky eater, but bananas are probably my least favorite food. A few types of ale yeast form isobutyl acetate as a byproduct of fermentation, and this gives the beer the aroma and flavor of banana. Isobutyl acetate is common in German Heffeweizens (not my favorite style), and can be part of the flavor profile for Belgian yeast strains. If it’s present in a small amount it doesn’t bother me, mixed with other yeast flavors I usually perceive more bubblegum than banana, but I’ve had a few beers where it was overwhelming. Fortunately Golden Monkey is not one of those beers, I finally tried it a few years back and enjoyed the complex flavor of this tripel. Victory Golden Monkey is available year-round on draft, in 750 mL bottles and in 12 oz. bottles and cans.

Victory Golden MonkeyVictory Golden Monkey pours a clear golden yellow with a solid white head. The scent is mostly the Belgian yeast, fruity and spicy. The yeast leads the flavor too, notes of bubblegum, pear, apple and clove. The added spices give some additional complexity, the coriander is particularly evident. The beer also has a solid malt backbone, touches of biscuit, cracker, honey and sugar. It isn’t a hoppy beer by any means, but they are more noticeable here than in some other versions of the style, earthy and herbal with a crisp bitterness to finish. The beer is medium bodied and you taste just a hint of the 9.5% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering fruity esters and warming alcohol. Victory Golden Monkey is a very tasty tripel, one of the better readily available versions on the market. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Victory Reviews:

Victory/Stone/Dogfish Head Saison Du BUFFVictory Moving Parts IPA #3Victory Swing Saison, Victory Hop Ranch

Great Divide Orabelle

Great Divide Rumble IPAHoppy Boston tripel month continues with a trip out West. I don’t get many chances to take beer-cations, especially with my family obligations, but my wife and I try to squeeze in an occasional brewery visit when we are traveling. One of our favorite examples was a trip to Denver a couple of years ago, we went for a wedding but made it a long weekend so we could spend some time in the city. We were staying right in downtown Denver, so we were within walking distance of a series of breweries. One of our favorites from the trip was Great Divide Brewing, we had an entertaining tour and tasted a number of their offerings. I focus most of my drinking and writing on New England beers now, but every time I drink a Great Divide beer I think of that trip. Great Divide’s late winter/early spring seasonal is Orabelle, a Belgian style tripel. Orabelle is brewed with barley, wheat, oats and rye and fermented with two different yeast strains after addition of orange peel and coriander. The spice additions are interesting, they are more traditional for a Belgian witbier than a tripel. Great Divide Orabelle is available from January through March on draft and in 12 oz. bottles and cans.

Great Divide OrabelleGreat Divide Orabelle pours a hazy light orange with a minimal white head. The scent is mostly Belgian yeast, fruity and spicy. The yeast leads the flavor too, notes of apricot, clove and pear. The adjuncts add some complexity, you get hints of orange and coriander that complement the yeasty esters. There is also a full malt profile, notes of biscuit, toasted whole grain bread, honey and a dash of rye. There are minimal hops, just enough to keep the malts in check. Orabelle is medium bodied and smooth, you get just a touch of late booziness which isn’t shocking at 8.3% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering yeast and spice flavors. Orabelle is a tasty version of a Belgian tripel, the added spices and diverse malt bill add complexity but everything works in harmony. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Great Divide Reviews:

Hoppy Boston goes to Denver, Great Divide Rumble IPA

Overshores Tripel Brun

I first tried selections from Overshores Brewing Company last summer when I stopped in Connecticut on the tail end of a business trip to grab some local beers that weren’t distributed in Massachusetts yet. Recently Overshores has expanded distribution, so now their innovative versions of traditional Belgian beer styles can be found locally. As part of Hoppy Boston’s tripel month I decided to give Overshores Tripel Brun a shot. Tripel Brun is brewed with traditional Belgian base malts in combination with caramel and Munich malts that are not usually incorporated in this style. The result is a darker color and more complex malt profile compared to many conventional tripels. Overshores Tripel Brun is available year round on draft and in their signature 12.7 oz. cork-and-cage bottles.

Overshores Tripel BrunOvershores Tripel Brun pours a deep amber with a massive off-white head. The scent is mild, mostly fruity Belgian yeast. The yeast leads the flavor, notes of green apple, bubblegum and clove. The malts have the toasted, biscuit and candi sugar flavors you expect from a tripel along with some caramel from the medium-roasted malts used in this brew. There are minimal hops, the yeast and malts are the star here. The beer is medium bodied, but is a slow sipper by necessity at 9.5% ABV. The finish is full with some lingering malt sweetness and yeasty esters. This is an interesting take on the tripel style, the caramel malts add some complexity and help differentiate the beer from other versions. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.

Previous Overshores Reviews:

Overshores Simpel and Blanc de Blanche

Westmalle Tripel

My beer of the month for March is the Belgian tripel, characterized by it’s light color, expressive yeast and big ABVs due to the use of light Belgian candi sugar in the brewing process. After churning through porter reviews in February I have come up a little light on tripels to review, I reached out for suggestions on twitter and got a few more ideas, but I could use a few more. I am starting with the mother of all tripels, the style originates from the Trappist brewery at Westmalle abbey, where the first tripel was brewed in 1934. The current recipe was introduced in 1956 and hasn’t been changed in 60 years. The tripel style quickly became a calling card for Westmalle, and other brewers began to make similar beers. Many American brewers have also embraced the style, tinkering with the addition of American hops that complement the fruity Belgian yeast strains. Westmalle tripel is typically sold in 33 cL bottles, perfect for the chalice glasses it is meant to be served in.

Westmalle TripelWestmalle Tripel pours a hazy gold with a massive off-white head. The scent is dominated by the expressive abbey ale yeast, lots of fruity esters along with a little spice. The yeast leads the flavor as well, notes of banana, bubblegum, clove and pepper. There is also plenty of malt, hints of bread crust, honey, biscuit and the distinct semi-sweet flavor imparted by the use of Belgian candi sugar. Some late hops crisp up the finish, but this beer is distinctly less hoppy than many American takes on the style. The beer is medium bodied and goes down pretty smooth for 9.5% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering fruity yeast flavors. Westmalle Tripel is truly an original, and while I tend to prefer the American takes on this style, this beer definitely still holds up. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

 

Allagash Curieux

Tomorrow my wife and I are taking the baby to Maine for a long weekend at my parents’ house. I love trips to Maine, especially in the summer. Since we are traveling with an infant we are going to need more frequent stops, so I have formulated a bit of a plan. Why stop at a rest stop when you could stop at a brewery? I have a tentative plan to hit 3-5 breweries on the way north, we’ll see how it goes. In honor of the upcoming journey my last pre-trip post will be a review of a Maine beer, Allagash Curieux. This beer is an interesting case. Curieux is a version of Allagash’s popular Tripel that is aged in Jim Beam Bourbon barrels and then blended with fresh Tripel. When Curieux was first released there were very few beers aged in whiskey barrels, now they are readily available. Curieux has received high praise from some of my most trusted fellow beer enthusiasts. When I bought this bottle one of the resident beer geeks at CBC Newton commented that it might be the best beer in the store. One of the most entertaining and informative national beer writers calls Curieux his favorite beer of all time. Despite this praise Curieux doesn’t get the hype that accompanies some barrel aged stouts like Founders KBS and Goose Island BCBS. Maybe it’s the lack of an acronym-ready name. More likely it is availability, these other beers are released in limited quantities that helps drives the hype, but Curieux is available year-round. You can find Curieux on draft and in 750 mL bottles.

Allagash CurieuxAllagash Curieux pours a clear light brown with a moderate white head. The scent is a mixture of boozy bourbon mixed with Allagash’s distinctly expressive fruity and spicy Belgian style ale yeast. The bourbon leads the flavor, solid but not overpowering, boozy and sweet with notes of oak and vanilla. The yeast comes through too with touches of clove, apple and banana. There is some malt in the back of the beer, crackery grain and candi sugar, but not much in the way of hops. Curieux is incredibly easy to drink and goes down impossibly smooth for a beer at 11% ABV. The finish is clean with just a hint of yeasty esters and warming alcohol. This beer is extremely good, it is no wonder that it helped inspire a craze for bourbon barrel aged beers. I am surprised more brewers haven’t used tripels as their base for barrel aging, maybe they switched to stouts because they assumed Allagash had already mastered tripels with Curieux! Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Allagash Reviews:

Allagash White, Allagash DubbelAllagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide Prince TuesdayAllagash Saison, Allagash Black

Two Roads Rye 95

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been on a bit of a rye beer kick recently. The subtle spicy flavor of rye can add complexity when used as a minor adjunct grain or major flavor when a more generous portion is added to the mash. American craft brewers have predominantly used rye in two styles of beer. Rye IPAs meld floral, aromatic and bitter hops with the spicy grain while rye additions to the Belgian saison style complement the expressive yeast flavors. I enjoy both of these styles and understand why they are popular, but I am always looking for creative uses of rye in other styles of beer. An innovative local example is Two Roads Rye 95, a Belgian style tripel brewed with rye. There are many similarities between tripels and saisons (light color, expressive Belgian style yeast, typically moderate to low hop flavor), so the use of rye in this beer style make sense, even if it isn’t a traditional ingredient. Based on the label Rye 95 pays homage to I-95, one on the central highways that connects the states of New England and the rest of the East Coast. It also refers to the 9.5% ABV in the beer, the kind of full bodied booziness that the tripel style is known for. Two Roads Rye 95 is available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles during the late winter and early spring.

Two Roads Rye 95Two Roads Rye 95 pours a clear light orange with a mild white head. The scent is a mixture of spicy yeast and rich malts. The taste is malt forward, some spicy rye, with touches of cracked grain, biscuits and a little sweetness. This mingles with the yeast flavor, notes of pear, clove, pepper and apricot. Many American tripels include extra hop character and this is no exception, the hops add some grass and lemon and dry out the finish. It’s not a “hoppy” beer but the hops add complexity to the palate. The beer is a medium bodied sipper at 9.5% ABV and you get a little bit of the warming alcohol in the aftertaste. Overall this is an interesting take on the tripel style, lots of diverse flavors that work pretty well together. I personally would have liked a little more robust rye character, but others might appreciate the restraint. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.

Previous Two Roads Reviews:

Two Roads Route of All EvilTwo Roads Workers Comp Saison