Halve Maan: Straffe Hendrik Tripel Wild 2021(Belgium: Sour Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Clear, slightly hazy yellow gold colour body. Some small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized, unbalanced layers of white mounded head.

Nose: Funky yeast. Cane sugar. Brown bread. Sulphur. Cheese puff crisps. Sour dough. Pepper. Light greenery.

Body: Lime touch. Vanilla. Funky character. Cheese puff crisps. Mature cheddar. Peppery. Dry. Cane sugar. Greenery. Tart grapefruit,

Finish: Peppery. Mature cheese. Funky character. Smoke. Raspberry air. Dry vanilla fudge.

Conclusion: Ok, I know what a Straffe Hendrik Tripel tastes like. I know in general what sour beers taste like. With all that in mind, I was in no way expecting what this tastes like.

I mean, there are hints of the base tripel here – cane sugar notes, some dry fudge, but way drier than normal. This is attenuated as heck and with that has the peppery character turned way up.

Added into that is a huge amount of yeasty funk, a touch of sulphur, cheese puff crisp mouthfeel and wisp of smoke that gives a wonderful texture and style to this whole thing. This is then tarted up with grapefruit and lime like notes, and in fact a general tart yet dry freshening character that should be familiar to anyone who has has some experience with wild yeast made beers.

It makes for something that calls to the dryness of a lambic, but is most definitely not a lambic. It has the cane sugar notes of a tripel but is definitely not a tripel. It is fluffy , full textured and plays very much to showing this unusual mouthfeel, but is not limited to that. It lets some thicker, sweeter notes out, but still is led on by its dry core. There is such contrast of feels, flavours, aromas and styles that makes it fascinating in every moment to explore.

So, I love it and yes, I have one set aside to age – I want to see what this does over the years. I highly recommend it if you are into wild, sour beers but don’t want to limit your experience to just lambics. This has such good tart, funky character matched to a super dry tripel and works both to perfection.

Background: First problem I had with this is, should I list it as Sour or Tripel? It is based on Straffe Hendrik Tripel but made with wild yeast which make it sour soooo. In the end I went with sour. Sue me. Looking online it seems that there is some variance between the releases of this. The 2015 version came in at 9% as one example. Anyway, this looked very interesting so I grabbed one to do notes on and one to age for later – wild yeast tends to be amazing for beer ageing. I had the chance to visit the Halve Maan brewery while in Bruges – a nice wee tour, great view of the city from the building top, and some unfiltered, unpasturised beer available at the end of it. All nice. Not much else to add, this was bought from Independent Spirit, and I put on Nine Inch Nails: The Downwards Spiral while drinking. Yes I am in a happy mood a lot currently. Why do you ask?