Ah, the tasty Tripel… With so many breweries producing the style these days, it is often the American palate’s first encounter with a true Belgian Style. The Tripel is a great gateway into the marvelous world of finely-crafted Belgian Ales.
The Tripel style is one that is generally brewed year-round, and with it’s balance of flavors – can truly be enjoyed year-round as well. As you’ll see in the Description below (and from your own discovery), the complexity really adds to the interesting nature of this style. Bottom line – this is a fun beer.
Here’s how the Brewers’ Association describes the style:
“Tripels are often characterized by a complex, sometimes mild spicy character, but no clove like phenolic flavor. Yeast-generated fruity banana esters are also common, but not necessary. These pale/light-colored ales may finish sweet, though any sweet finish should be light. The beer is characteristically medium bodied with an equalizing hop/malt balance. Traditional Belgian Tripels are often well attenuated and bottle conditioned beers aged for a long period may be very well attenuated. Brewing sugar may be used to lighten the perception of body. Its sweetness will come from very pale malts. There should not be character from any roasted or dark malts. Very low hop flavor is okay. Alcohol strength and flavor should be perceived as evident. Head retention is dense and mousse like. Chill haze is acceptable at low serving temperatures. Traditional Tripels are bottle conditioned and may exhibit slight yeast haze.”
Whether on a Spring picnic, or at the Thanksgiving table, it’s a style well-suited to pairing with a variety of foods (and with it’s high alcohol content, we’d suggest you DO pair it up). Poultry and pork dishes are especially well complemented by the Tripel, and it’s also a fine appetizer accompaniment for a plate of pungent and sharp cheeses.
Avoid the standard pint glasses, and go with a Snifter, Tulip, or Goblet…
So which brands should you check out this week? Sample these three, which should be generally available at your better bottle shops around PA:
– Unibroue La Fin du Monde, 9% ABV (Chambly, Quebec, Canada)
– Chimay Tripel / “White label” 8% ABV (Baileux, Belgium)
– St. Bernardus Tripel 8% ABV (Watou, Belgium)
For additional options, check out our Tripel page … and write back to let us know what you think about the style!