Note: The Session is a monthly collaborative effort when beer bloggers write their own perspective on a single theme. On the first Friday of the month, bloggers and commenters discuss a theme chosen by a volunteer blogger. This month’s theme was chosen by David at Musing Over a Pint. You can find summaries of past sessions here.
Maybe because they’re often brewed by monks in abbeys, Belgian Tripels hold an almost religious significance for the serious beer drinker. The Session theme this month sets out this description for the challenge:
Beer is best when it’s shared, and a strong beer is just right for sharing. Belgian Tripels are big beers with a flavor profile that is enjoyed by both experienced and new beer fans. Be it an intimate evening, or watching a ball game on TV, a Tripel is made for sipping and sharing. For Session #24 the theme is “A Tripel for Two.” What Tripel would you pick to share with that good friend, family member, or lover?
Truth be told (as I said, monks are involved), Carla and I don’t seek out tripels all that often. It just doesn’t come up. We love the idea of the first Friday beer tasting, though, so when this topic was posted back in January, we decided that we needed to try more than one.
We chose two nearly at random. Both were true Belgian Tripels: St. Bernardus from the abbey of the same name in Watou Province in West Flanders, and Tripel Karmeliet from the Bosteel Brewery in Buggenhout. Both bottles were cellared at 57 degrees (F) and sampled on different evenings.
Given my obvious monk obsession, the St. Bernardus was chosen because it had a monk on the label, and the bottle itself was dusty (an inspection of the cork covering yielded a July 2006 bottling date). The Karmeliet? Pretty label. We’re suckers for pretty labels.
The St. Bernardus poured very, very cloudy with a thick head. A muddy dark gold is the best I can describe it. Lots of yeast and floating protein residue was visible. Both the aroma and the taste were spicy, but the taste had mellowed nicely. The taste had strong notes of banana, but aging had been very kind to this bottle in this respect (it was the taste that inspired me to seek out the bottling date). While I could look past the appearance, Carla was much more critical of it, and she didn’t care for the taste. What neither of us could really get past was the graininess of the mouthfeel. There was a lot of suspended gunk in this beer. If I were ever to get this beer again, I’d want to make sure it had aged at least as much as this one, and I’d strain it through cheesecloth. Seriously.
The Karmeliet couldn’t have been more different. It poured a brilliant gold, crystal clear, crisp and balanced, with an aroma and flavor much suggestive of lemon and citrus. Best of all, it left a spicy tingle on the tip of the tongue. The head was thick and creamy, leaving a fine lacing on the glass. The bottle is green, which can be an invitation to disaster, but in this case it had been kept from the light, so it was fine. Better yet? The word is that Dilly Deli is currently featuring this on draft. This is A Very Good Thing™.
Our choice for a Tripel for Two is the Tripel Karmeliet from Bosteels: A.
St. Bernardus Tripel: B+ (Tom) B- (Carla)