Sunday, 3 June 2012

#34: Double Tripel

After the surprise hops in the Slaapmutske Tripel, I was ready return to my comfort zone with two Belgian tripels I felt I could rely on to provide the kind of malty, yeasty tripel I love the most. Once again, I can't stress enough that I don't have a problem with hoppy beers, it's just that I prefer my dubbels, tripels and other Belgian strong ales without the bitter bite, and I also concede that this is probably just because I got used to those kinds of beers first. This is subject to change as my tastes change - who knows, maybe in a couple of years I won't like Belgian ale at all...

As if. Anyway, the two beers I chose were the Tripel Karmeliet and the St Bernardus Tripel. The latter has been sitting in the cupboard for quite a while, mainly just to get that ridiculous amount of sediment to lie down, while the former I bought to drink asap - I couldn't wait to try it. Both beers surprised me, in a way...

The Tripel Karmeliet pours a pale gold lager colour, with a mad fizz to it and a monster head, though that could be down to my terrorist pour. Head retention is great, as is the lacing. On the nose it's the grapefruit that gets me first, followed by the caramel malt, nut and bread, as well as sweet toffee. Citrus fruit becomes more and more prominent as the beer warms up, which was a nice surprise. See? Sometimes I like the presence of hops! Nice complexity to the smell, so on to the taste. Sticky sweet caramel malts to the fore, with peanut, biscuit, fruit and yeast in the middle and finish. The alcohol heat at the very end gives way to a lovely grainy aftertaste that lingers a little while. Also worth noting that grapefruit makes an appearance in the taste too, to remind us that he's still around. It's mouthwatering, this one. Great full body and velvety smooth carbonation help make this a fantastic beer.

The St. Bernardus Tripel was surprising in a completely different way. To be frank, it was bloody disappointing. The only consolation was that I'm convincing myself it was a dodgy bottle, because I don't want to believe that this is what St. Bernardus have put forward as their tripel. It looked OK - clear golden with a small white head and fair carbonation - but things started to go awry in the smell. It was fruity, yeasty and medicinal, with a really damp or dank quality to it. The complexity that I'd expect just wasn't there in the taste either - hops, medicine and caramel malt with some generally off flavours. The mouthfeel wasn't terrible, with a medium to full body trying to make up for all that was lost on the nose and tongue. I really do hope this is an off bottle, so I may try it again in a little while. That being said, I'd much rather spend my money on the Tripel Karmeliet.

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