The topic of Session 24 is "A Tripel for Two." As David at Musings Over a Pint explains:
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?As is often the case, the topic seems to assume we'll write about a beer we've had before. I've only reviewed one Tripel so far, the unusual dark Tripel from Abbaye d’Aulne, and I've only ever drank one or two others. The Tripel Brune raises a question: must this style be light in color, or is tripel-ness just a question of heft? I kind of lean toward the former, but am not going to get all pissy about it.
I decided to sample three Tripels. I did not drink these all on the same night, and only the Sprecher did I share.
Maredous 10: Love the stubby bottle. The price point suggests that this may be a second tier Belgian, as it clocks in at a couple bucks less per bottle than the really expensive ones. The 10 refers to 10% ABV, and the alcohol indeed makes its presence felt. Cloudy orange-gold with a meringue head that stays after the party is over. Peachy, spicy, slightly tangy, and a bit boozy. Feels like champagne. Maybe the best of the three for both "sipping and sharing."
St. Bernardus Watou Tripel: This is a better beer overall, just too pricey to share unless it's an intimate setting with someone you know will appreciate it. St. Bernardus makes two tripels; how many other breweries do that? Watou is a town in Flanders, by the way. This slender-bottled beer is mellower than Maredsous. It's "only" 7.5%, a little paler in color, more bubblegummy in aroma, and I think a bit lighter in carbonation. As with Maredsous, the foam outlasts the beer itself. Great creamy body. Honey and fruit (oranges?), but ultimately dry. My favorite of the three.
Sprecher Abbey Triple: I wanted to toss in one American take on the style, and chose Sprecher because it seemed so unlikely. This Wisconsin brewery rightly specializes in lagers. Abbey Triple is sold in a bruising 16 ounce bottle that has a twist off cap, for god's sake. 8.4% ABV. Relatively cheap at around $8 a 4-pack, it's good for sharing with any company, but alas, not really for sipping. It's lighter in color than the others, more clear, and with a less impressive head. The ABV notwithstanding, I can see guzzling this in the summer. Fruity and sweet, it only scratches the surface of Belgian yeast complexity. And yet, it's a tasty beer. If you don't hold it to the lofty standards of a Tripel -- maybe pretend it's a fruit beer -- Sprecher's take is pretty good. Non-beer nerd friends were fond as well.
So there you go. I had a lot of fun with this style, and am curious to see what other Tripels people are drinking.