Beer ye! Beer ye!
This time, ‘twas the second Wednesday of the month due to Corey getting sick in the hole of Jackson, a snowstorm and a few last minute dropouts. So, we postponed our hoppy hangout. It was worth it (if I do say so myself)!
The theme for Volume 18 was Tripels – a theme that was decided after I read the following:
“Tripels are notoriously alcoholic, and deceptively drinkable. The best crafted ones hide this characteristic quite evil-like and deceivingly, making them “sipping beers.”
‘What could go wrong?’ I thought to myself, as I called BeerAdvocate’s bluff and sent out the invitation for BV18.
Aroma: Complex array of spice and fruit
Flavor: Light malt underlies a tangy, fruity, bubbly body with a kick
When we get down to the brass tacks, the name “Tripel” actually stems from the brewing process in which brewers use up to three times the amount of malt than a standard Trappist. Traditionally, Tripels are bright yellow or golden in color – just a shade or two darker than your average Pilsener. The head is big, dense and creamy with a complex aroma that is equal parts spicy, powdery, yeasty and fruity with a sweet finish.
This characteristically candied conclusion comes from both the pale malts and the higher alcohol content. Sometimes, Tripels can be be a bit bitter – which is surprising for a beer with such a light body. Generally speaking, the malts, hops and sweetness balance the bitterness just perfectly.
The lighter body and sweetness comes from the use of Belgian candy sugar, a quarter of which is made up of sucrose (hello, diabetes!), which not only lightens the body, but also adds complex, alcoholic aromas and flavors.
Overall, my impression is that this is a beer that is incredibly complex – with many twists and turns along the way. Tripels pack serious punch: ostentatious and sometimes over-the-top flavors are masked by a generic, unassuming name. With malts, hops and sweetness to boot, it’s easy to see why this style is a Tripel threat. Ha!
So, without further ado – let’s dive in!
DUNHAM SUPERMOINE #1: GOUDEN MEYER – Daniel
A bright, lemony beer that manages to leave flavors of lime, pineapple, orange, tangerine, kiwi, mango, grapefruit rind and a bit of caramel on ye olde tastebuds. A tart, acidic and slightly sour beer that isn’t afraid of malt. A good balance between dry and sweet that is very drinkable for an 8%. A must-try.
This is a funky, hoppy beer. It’s well-balanced. It’s got everything, and it’s got a lot of it. One ‘stitutioneer noted that it’s like “pop rocks of flavor” exploding in his mouth.
“I would session the shit out of this. I would session this for at least the next 30 minutes.”
BRSTº Rating: 4/5
MICROBRASSERIE DU LAC ST-JEAN: TANTE TRICOTANTE – Charles Andre
Fresh, fruity goodness with tons of depth and complexity. A little bit of tartness is offset by the woody, herbal notes. Pleasant, complex and completely one-of-a-kind. A beer that’s been dubbed “dangerously drinkable.”
This is a very sweet beer that we generally felt “came and went.” It was sweet, syrupy with all of the bite coming to you at the bitter end. This is very drinkable – and surprisingly – tastes far better after the second glass.
“It tastes like something swampy.”
BRSTº Rating: 3.5/5
HET ANKER: GOLDENCAROLUS TRIPEL – Allegra
This beer is a deeply satisfying Belgian Tripel steeped in tradition. A solid, assertive malt body balances out the high alcohol content. A well-rounded experience that hints at yeast, caramel and is oh-so-citrusy.
In what may be the most mathematical description of beer – ever – Dan said that this beer “was too strong. There was nothing well-balanced about it at all. It was aggressive on the nose, overly-boozy and it just tastes off. It’s angular. It’s aggressive. It’s got sharp edges.” Yup, folks: this one’s heavy handed, for sure.
“Very traditional Belgian beer: heavy, sweet and syrupy.”
BRSTº Rating: 3
A LA FUT: TRIPLE A LA BRETT – Corey
The inimitable Brett pours hazily with a large, pure foamy head. There’s some tart notes that are offset by some sweet malt. The taste is a nice (if one can call a Brett beer nice) mix between bittersweet and ultra-funky brett, with some peppery notes to boot. For whatever it’s worth, the taste is incredibly complex for a Tripel style, and offers a great balance with a super dry finish.
For whatever it’s worth, this beer is incredibly polarizing. Generally speaking, you either love it or you hate it – and while I don’t love the taste of Brett, I can appreciate the intention behind it. Still, despite Brett’s storied reputation, the Triple A Brett, in particular, seemed to really resonate with the meeting’s attendees.
“If your feet smelled like this, you’d need a specialized cream. In fact, it smells like a sweaty guy who really needs a shower.”
BRSTº Rating: 4/5
DUNHAM: TRIPLE XXX – Dave
There’s a mosaic of hops in this one – a kaleidoscope of flavor. This brew is cakey, bready and downright dough-y. Despite its relative heaviness, it doesn’t taste overly sweet. It’s slick, hazy and unfortunately, falls a bit flat.
No, this isn’t a washed up, Vin Diesel flick – but instead – a slightly hazy, fluffy beer that offers up decent funk with a complex, dry finish. There’s the slightest hint of pine and grapefruit.
“It tastes like beer you’ve already drank.”
BRSTº Rating: 4.5/5
UNIBROUE: LA FIN DU MONDE – Hugo
An exceptional take on a traditional Belgian beer. There’s subtle flavors and a champagne essence that are essential in describing this unique brew. The magic is really in the understated flavors. Unibroue’s take on a Tripel has something for everyone: malty, fruity and spicy notes that offer a smooth, dry finish.
It’s funny, because, as Quebecers, we tend to take this beer for granted. It’s widely available – sold in nearly every grocery store and depanneur – and yet, we rarely note its complexity. For most – it’s the beer they grew up drinking, with friends at house parties – and may often be overlooked in favor of other, more creative craft brews. But it’s impossible to ignore how damn good this beer tastes. Though it may be basic, its complex flavor and carbonation make it an ideal pairing for cheese and savory cuisine, like scallops, filet mignon and duck confit. Seriously – you’ve been drinking this beer forever, but once you drink it with a more discerning palette, it’s easy to see why La Fin Du Monde has been a mainstay in North American brewing circles.
“This is such a solid beer – and one that you never really think twice about. It’s always there.”
BRSTº Rating: 3.5/5
MICROBRASSERIE CHARLEVOIX: DOMINUS VOBISCUM – Gen
This is the beer by which to judge all other Tripel’s. It is, according to one beer shop, the meter stick for Tripels. It pours beautifully – clear, golden with two fingers of foamy, white head. The carbonation is strong, and overall, it looks very picturesque. Dominus boasts fruity notes – apple and pear – that are offset by the spiciness of cloves and yeast. It is the perfect blend of bittersweet. Or better still, bitteryeast.
Overall, we found this beer to be quite pleasing, and it was a real treat to taste it towards the end of the evening, juxtaposed against all of the other Tripels we sampled. We loved the fruity, citrus aroma that coupled with the honey, caramel and herbal spices. Everything is well-intensified. The flavor is forceful, but perfectly proportioned, which makes this accessible and oh-so-easy to drink.
“This has a good baseline. This is a real crowdpleaser”
BRSTº Rating: 4/5
TROU DU DIABLE: LA BUTEUSE – Phil T.
There’s great clarity with La Buteuse. The delightful aroma brings out the typical spicy Belgian toasted notes, as well as a distinct fruity character that is offset by some bite.
This one’s a triple threat – with yeast, caramel and sweet orchard fruit. It’s slick, cream, foamy and infinitely drinkable. La Buteuse is warm and inviting, and tastes like autumn. It’s sweet, malty and ultimately extravagant.
“There’s some crisp, syrupy undertones here – and it certainly doesn’t taste like 10%”
BRSTº Rating: 3/5
LE DIEU DU CIEL: L’HERBE A DETOURNE – Chris S.
This beer puts citrust front-and-center. Pours hazy, yeasty and tastes peachy. There’s grapefruit, melon that, given the conditions, take on a candied taste. It is dry, and very filling.
It tastes like bubblegum, offset by coriander and clove for a bitter kick in the glass, right at the end. This was the last beer we sampled, and everything came full-circle for us, given the beer’s citrus undertones – bearing similarities to the Gouden Meyer. It’s delicious, but quite boozy.
“This tastes like citrus gummy bears.”
BRSTº Rating: 4/5
Best in Show: L’Herbe A Detourne
Best Label: Gouden Meyer
Session: Gouden Meyer