This Spring, we've been sampling beers from Belgium. We've tasted our ways through table beers (a/k/a singles), and dubbels, and this week, we're launching into an exploration of tripels. It's worth pausing to consider the differences between these styles before we start drinking. The singles we tried were spicy and mild, mostly around 5% ABV. The dubbels were darker, richer and stronger – many with ABV's exceeding 7%. Tripels are the pinnacle of this particular beer pyramid – with heavier bodies, and ABV's often greater than 9%! Considering the dubbels are darker than singles, it seems strange that tripels are pale in color. That's just one of the idiosyncratic pleasures of Belgian beer, I suppose. Cheers!
Allagash Tripel Ale
Format Sampled: 12 oz capped bottle
Availability: Purchased at the Bier Cellar
Tasting Notes: Pours a pale straw with a bone white head. Aroma fumes with clove, nutmeg and sugar. The initial flavor continues the clove theme, with a cornucopia of spicy flavors – nutmeg, black pepper and ginger. There's a sharp, concentrated sweetness after the spices – stewed pears, chardonnay, clover honey and rock candy all squeezed together into a sweetness so intense it nearly burns. It's not cloying at all, and as it fades, there is a warm “pasta-water” solidity underneath. This lightly toasted malt base it warm and mellow: freshly baked wheat bread, toasted biscuit and pasta. This provides a solid foundation for a long, spicy aftertaste. This is a dangerously drinkable beer!
Anchorage Brewing Company The Tide and Its Takers Triple With Brettanomyces
Format Sampled: 22 oz capped bottle
Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market & Bakery
Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy golden yellow with a thin white head. Aroma is fresh, with sour cider vinegar and earthy barnyard funk. After the powerful acid aroma, I braced for a tongue burn – but the initial flavor is shockingly smooth. Sure, there's a bright acid snap, but it's balanced by the incredibly light, fluid body, and mellow sweetness. The sweetness is subtle – like heather honey, and it barely lingers long enough to balance the sour character. It's like a cold Vinho Verde, with gentle acid, faint tannin, light carbonation and little aftertaste. As it warms, I get barrel aromas: vanilla, oak, and a bit of dust.
Transmitter Triple Ale
Format Sampled: 750 ml corked bottle
Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market House
Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy orange/yellow with a thin white head. Aroma has white wine vinegar, lemon peel and lemon oil. The initial flavor kicks off with a mouthwatering acidity, immediately complimented by a quenching citrus sweetness. A beer that makes you thirsty, then quenches your thirst? Amazing. It's backed up by a potent citrus bitterness – almost like an herbal aperitif! There's a hoppy bitterness too, drying, herbal and redolent of pine and oranges. The aftertaste has orange peel, pith, and tannin, an agreeably dry, complicated flavor.