Tag Archive: Abbey Tripel


Bosteels (AB Inbev): Tripel Karmeliet (Belgium: Tripel: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Clear, medium brightness gold. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Massive mounded white head.

Nose: Peppery. Coriander. Wheaty bitterness. Vanilla. Orange zest. Lightly earthy. Turmeric.

Body: Peppery bitterness. Oily character. Menthol, with a sap like core. Greenery touch. Vanilla. Thick. Sweet brown sugar. Orange zest. Wheaty. Crusty white bread. Brown rice.

Finish: Peppery. Slightly oily. Good bitterness. Brown rice. Orange zest. Lemon zest. Brown sugar. Grapes.

Conclusion: What I’ve always like about this beer over this years is that, quite frankly, it is an utter mess, but a glorious mess in that and one I’ve always enjoyed.

That may sound strange, but follow me on this one. It is distinctly peppery in its characteristics, yet that spice works alongside brown sugar raw sweet notes at its heights. Despite a dry edge this has a oily feel to the core, with accompanying bitterness. Yet that texture also comes across as a sap like menthol thickness that refreshes rather than bites. You have orange zest fresh notes working against a savoury brown rice base. So many notes you normally wouldn’t find together all cohabiting here in perfect harmony in an oily, dry, sweet, citrus, spicy, etc, etc way.

It is a high alcohol beer, and feels it, but in a way that shows itself as an odd, well attenuated kind of alcoholic haze. There is nothing too evident, but there is always a dry alcohol shimmer that makes you take care of what you are drinking, without hurting the overall experience.

It comes with a lovely cornucopia of flavours that somehow mesh despite the fact that they really shouldn’t and should just make an utter car wreck of a beer instead. Bitterness, sweetness, alcohol, savoury, sweet, spicy, I’ve been over this already, it just plays with so many flavour styles.

It is a joy, but one I am sure is not for everyone as it is a lot of a mess, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a big fan, and there is a lot to enjoy here if you go with it.

Background: This is one of the Belgian beers I first encountered many a year ago, when I was just starting on my beer hunting journey, and a big fan of it I was back then. So of course I never did notes on it until now. I even had a Tripel Karmeliet glass, which was one of my favourite glasses, until I broke it. It turns out that being drunk often around glass can cause breakages. Who would have thought it? This was picked up from Waitrose, but many places seem to have it in, it is fairly easy to get. Though the Brexit related delivery issues of recent months seem to make it harder to find in some places. Went with Crass – The Feeding of 5000 for music. Crass is one of those well reputed, classic punk bands that passed me by back in the day so I thought I would make an effort to check them out. Impressed so far.

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?

Trappistes Rochefort: Tripel Extra (Belgium: Tripel: 8.1% ABV)


Visual: Hazy lemon juice colour. Evident sediment in the body and a moderate sized white tight bubbled head.

Nose: Slight lemon. Bready hop bitterness. Dry. White pepper.

Body: Sherbety mouthfeel initially. Dry attenuated character later. Naan bread. Lemon sherbet. Cheese puff crisps. White pepper. Slight mature cheddar. Lemon juice.

Finish: Moderate bitterness. Moderate yeastie funk. Wotsits crisps. Slight mature Cheddar. White pepper. Dry lemon. Slight sulphur.

Conclusion: Now this is definitely an interesting one. A lot of Tripels go for the sweeter route, with either evident residual sugar, or a smoother malt sweet style.

This says “Fuck that noise”

This is dry, very well attenuated, with lots of flavours that would normally be expressed in a sweeter way instead being so dryly done that they come across almost savoury here.

Yet it also defies the smooth American take on the Abbey Tripel style – it has good levels of bitterness, which is very unexpected, a savoury yeast funk that calls to the rougher edges of some of the best Belgian takes. It has all the polished brewing skilled mixed with a touch of rough gem style you would expect of a Belgian Tripel, just drier.

This slightly different take allows it to play with more unusual flavours. The dry lemon matched with an unleavened bready bitterness for a refreshing yet savoury base – then with white pepper spiciness and subtle mature cheddar notes that give the complexity and challenge. There is a lot more savoury style than you would expect.

So how good is it? Well it may not win a place as a favourite, return to often beer for me, but it 100% got my attention, and with that I enjoyed it more than most other Tripels I have had recently.

It is a challenging one, and doesn’t declare itself as a must have for me as there are just some aspects that don’t quite click – but those are more personal things than signs of its quality, I still dig it, and would still recommend it in general.

A more bitter, more attenuated, more different Tripel. Brilliantly made, just not for everyone nor one for every time.

Still worth trying.

Background: I’ve had a few of these, before doing notes today. This is the first time it poured with the very evident sediment mentioned in the notes. As a huge fan of Rochefort, hearing that they were turning out this – a rare new beer release from them, was very interesting so this was a must grab. So grab it I did, from Independent Spirit. Yes again. Went with Stay Alive by Laura Jane Grace as music while drinking. I’m a big fan of Against Me! So was interested in this solo album. In other thoughts, was nice to have an excuse to break out the Trappist beer glasses again

Beavertown: Alvinne: Tempus: Uptown Monk (England: Abbey Tripel: 9.3%)

Visual: Deep apricot skin. Small off white dash of a head. Semi clear and still body.

Nose: Peppery. Cane sugar to brown sugar. Rye crackers. Dried apricot. Crushed Blackpool rock.

Body: Smoke. Vanilla slices, but dry. Dry lemon. Light lime funk notes. Apricot. Tart notes – tart grapes. Vanilla yogurt. Orange. Cane sugar. Champagne.

Finish: Dry cheesecake. Rye crackers. Pepper. Darkly bitter. Malt chocolate drinks. Dry lime. Tart apples. Slight yeast funk. Vanilla and lemon yogurt. Champagne.

Conclusion: Oh, there is a shit-ton going on with this beer. On the front I seems to be a simple literary conflict – peppery spice rye versus a cane to brown sugar tripel style sweetness. An enjoyable pulp tale of beer rather than an intricate layered script.

Time brings funk influence and side characters of tart lime and drier lemon yogurt notes that explore further themes of the beer. In fact the beer in general has a drier, yet tart backing character that creates layered and complex characters that accentuates that initially simple base conflict. The peppery character expands into bitterness, showing the futility of attempts to map reality linier plotting while hanging a lampshade on its own beery progression.

Dried, fruit sugar apricot comes out – giving a nod to crowd pleasing simple beers but here deconstructing that in its contrast to the complex developments below, showing both funk and barrel ageing influence in equal share rather than being shunted to sub plots as the more simple beers would do.

It does however revel in its barrel ageing, gaining a champagne character that freshens your mouth, allowing for tart grapes to join; Here the subtext of the tart funk becomes the text, the funk joining the barrel ageing to make the beer’s theme plain to all.

Hopefully the above has allowed me to explain how complex this layered beer can be, and to illustrate its character to you clearly. It is unusual, deep and one I enjoyed very much.

Background: I have no clue why I wrote the notes like this – I mean obviously I was drinking, but due to the oddity of the beer I decided treating it like a book review seemed a thing to do. I have no reason, no excuse and no excuse would be accepted. Anyway, decided to leave the notes as is an upload them because, well it amuses me if no-one else. Anyway, this is a beer I grabbed from Independent Spirit before Christmas – as a heavy rye Triple aged in white wine barrels I figured a bit more time would not hurt it. Been a while since I had an Alvinne beer, even as a collab, but this should go some small way to correct that. Drunk while listening to some Testament again, no real reason, just did.

Lost and Grounded: Apophenia (England: Abbey Tripel: 8.8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow to apricot. Thin white to off white head. Fast small bubble carbonation.

Nose: Buttery shortbread. Cane sugar. Light fluffy hop character. Toffee popcorn. Crushed orange hard sweets. Light crumbled brown bread.

Body: Sweet orange hard sweets. Palma violets. Custard. Crisp hops and moderate bitterness. Slight grape and kiwi. Slight sour green fruit tang and gherkin.

Finish: Orange hard sweets. Cane sugar. Moderate custard hops bitterness. Kiwi fruit. Slight gherkin. Buttery shortbread.

Conclusion: Ok, this works for me far more than the more highly reputed collaboration with Verdant and Cloudwater Belgian ale that they did. I think it is because this wears its Belgian roots far more openly.

While this is a tad smoother than your average Belgian tripel, it still has that raw cane sugar sweet edges and a great deal of sweet fruit esters. It differs in that it has a more defined hop character – the custard sweetness and light bitter hops mix in a way that actually calls to mind the excellent Saison Dupont, without losing the base tripel style. The hop use brings in more green fruit, but unlike most beers these days, it isn’t dominated by the hops so to hurt the benefits of the base style. Instead it just adds rounding notes that mix with the sweetness to give a real old fashioned sweet shop set of imagery.

Another twist is the buttery shortbread style it has, making for a thicker backing feel, yet also a subtle smoothness to the raw edges. Everything feels like it is respecting the style, but also expanding so not to be beholden to it.

Finally it adds a slightly more sour note – kind of in slight sour grapes to mild gherkin in expression, which brings a gentle twist to the middle and finish – its something that really offsets the sweetness, and is responsible for it never seeming sickly despite the cane sugar style. Since Tripels can be very high level sweetness this slight reining it gives it a lot of room to add more layers to it.

I’m genuinely impressed by this – new craft style hops being gently and not excessively used; A saison dupont influenced take on a tripel, and a bit more to boot. Just different enough, just respectful enough – a corker from Lost and Grounded.

Background: For some reason I always get the words Apophenia and Acedia mixed up – Well, I say for some reason – it’s because I first heard both those words because they were the names of History Of Gun’s albums. Which I used great self control and did not listed to while drinking these as a very obscure in joke to myself. Because I have self control. Instead I put on a bunch of different takes on the Mirrors Edge theme song – because I am still a massive geek. Anyway, grabbed this at Independent Spirit – they brought it to my attention as an example of L&G playing with Belgian yeast so thought I would give it a go.

Verdant: Cloudwater: Lost and Grounded – Loral and Ardi (England: Abbey Tripel: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy tropical fruit juice looking with a large, loose, bubbled, white head.

Nose: Peppery. Light hop character. Apricot. Slight smoke. Brown bread.

Body: Apricot. Banana. Light custard. Smoke. Bready bitterness. Yeastie. Puff crisp thickness. Peppery.

Finish: Smoked meat. Some bitterness. Crushed Blackpool rock. Pepper. Slight floral air. Palma violets. Mature cheese and cheese puffs. Dried apricot. Peach.

Conclusion: A very grounded beer for a Tripel this one. Well by the end it is. At the start it seemed like it was going to be another fruity hop explosion beer. Not a bad thing in general, but very overused at the moment and can make a lot of beer styles seem very similar, losing the wonderful range of the beer world. So, glad that it turns out to be something different going on here.

What gave me that impression, that it would be a IPA style hop fest is 1) That the cloudy colour really makes it look like the NEIPA style that is all the rage right now and 2) The fresh burst of apricot hops early on. Thankfully there is a lot more ot this beer than first impressions would suggest.

The peppery, Belgian character is there backed by that cheese puff crisps and mature cheese notes that I associate with the Belgian yeast. It gives a lot of weight to what initially seemed to be a simple beer.

Does it work? Well you get juicy hop fruitiness and some hop bitterness matched with the aforementioned Belgian characteristics laid across a custard sweet malt base. It is nice, but I have to admit, feels less than the sum of its parts. The hops and the yeastie notes kind of work, but also seem to create a slightly muggy centre below that. Not terrible, just the dried fruit and peppery character matched with the yeastie notes combine to make things a bit overly clinging in the middle, just slightly wearing.

So lots of good parts, not bad overall, but doesn’t quite mesh everything together to create something better than the individual elements.

Background: Took a while for me to find the name of this – it is tucked away on the side of the can. An odd promotional choice, maybe they were just really ashamed of the pun? Another beer where I was unsure on beer style to use – it pushes itself as a Tripel, which makes sense with the abv so that is the style I listed – however it is closer to a standard blond Belgian ale in a lot of ways, just heavier hopped. Anyway – this is made with Ardennes yeast and dry hopped with Lorcal, Simcoe and Centennial. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this was drunk while listening to a bit more of the varied sound that comes from Miracle Of Sound.

chimay-white-tripel

Chimay: White – Tripel (Belgium: Abbey Tripel: 8% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold. Large yellowed to white head. Moderate carbonation.

Nose: Peppery. Wheaty. Dry. Light bitterness. Coriander.

Body: Dry. Cane sugar. Peppery and wheaty. Light custard sweetness. Light bitterness. Light white wine and tart white grapes. Creamy. Lemon.

Finish: Light bitterness. Wheaty character. Dry. Dry lemon. White wine. Soft toffee.

Conclusion: Oh this is a so very well attenuated tripel. Dry, always on the verge of too dry for my tastes, but always done well enough that it doesn’t take it that step too far. It just looks over the edge without the need to step back, or overbalance and fall forwards. It works a base that is dry, wheaty and lightly peppery – actually feels kind of tending towards those Belgian wit spice flavours, but layered over a more dry attenuated base than those beers tend to go for. It then lets the sweetness rise into the middle of that – giving cream and lemon notes that rise to the surface for a few moments, then sink again to let the dryness return. Cane sugar shimmers over the top of that generally dry base, creating delicious contrast.

The lemon character rises as the beer warms, which gives even more of a Belgian wit meets super attenuated Tripel impression. This leans away from the super sweet, easy crowd pleaser tripel style and into something that is harder to get used to – but to my mind is much more rewarding for that. It does get creamier over time, but never loses that dry air around it.

It works very well, never too dry, never sugar shock sweet, and always has a lot going on. This is the blueprint for how to do a classy tripel.

Trappist beers still impress me after all these years, and this especially does not disappoint.

Background: Chimay was my first experience of Trappist ales – ales brewed by Trappist monasteries. I ran into them in York as I was starting to expand my beer horizons and the sheer weight of them just blew my mind. Think it was the blue I first tried. Anyway, decided to grab this – the tripel of the bunch from Independent Spirit. Something big like this deserved big music, so I broke out Two Steps From hell – Archangel – lovely big epic music.

Collective Sao Gabriel Touro Tripel
Collective Sao Gabriel: Touro Tripel Blonde (South Africa: Abbey Style Tripel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Apricot, good sized white bubbled head.

Nose: Peach syrup. Black liquorice. Cane sugar. Cheesecake. Dried apricot. Stewed fruit. Slightly musty.

Body: Cream. Some bitterness. Banana. Liquorice. Cloves. Apricot. Slightly yeastie.

Finish: Cake sponge. Liquorice. Cane sugar. Lemon curd. Quite clean.

Conclusion: A creamy, fruity Tripel with liquorice notes. You had me up until that last one, now you are going to have to work really hard to sell me on it.

The base tripel is really clean and slightly dry with very little residual cane sugar. There is some sweetness but in general if feels more attenuated that a lot of the sugar sweet tripels going around. The sweetness instead mainly comes from the fruity character that would not actually be out of place on the less bitter end of the American IPA spectrum, there is even a similar creaminess of character.

Then, there is the liquorice, which seems to be a side affect of the dryness I think. It does have a use – tamping down the residual sugars that still exist to stop them building up too much. It goes a bit far though and can become a cloying and long lasting presence, far after the other flavours, and that really isn’t my preference.

It is a sign of the quality of the rest of the beer that I still enjoyed it despite that -while mostly a clean feel there is a bit of yeastiness there – small, but present and it gives it an interesting character. Based on this I would say there is a lot of room in the market for less sweet tripels, it is just this one needs a few more tweaks to work.

So a very fruity and dry tripel. It is at the almost working level, but not quite. However, if you have more of a tolerance for liquorice than I, this might be right up your street.

Background: Ok, where to list this as being from? Had to do a bit of googling for this one – the beers are listed as being brewed in Belgium according to the bottle, but Collective Sao Gabriel appear to be contract brewers a la Mikkeller, but based in South Africa. I’ve followed the Mikkeller route and listed where I think they are based. So South Africa it is. I didn’t just do that so I get an unusual entry on the beer map – honest. Anyway, I mainly grabbed this as it has awesome art on it which caught my eye. yep, sometimes I am that shallow. Ratebeer is listed in this as a Belgian strong ale, but I’ve decided to do my usual and list it based on what the brewer calls it as long as it is the right ballpark. Drunk while listening to New Model Army’s live album. Note: despite what I say above I actually quite like liquorice by itself, it just often doesn’t work in beer. Grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Close Up Art.jpg

La Senne Jambe de Bois

La Senne: Jambe de Bois (Belgium: Abbey Tripel: 8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy banana juice, cloudy body with evident sediment. Very large yellow to white mounded froth head that leaves lace.

Nose: Wheat. Dried banana. Custard slices. Toffee. vanilla ice cream.

Body: Solid hop bitterness. Bananas in custard. Toffee. Wheat. Peach. Blackpool rock and candyfloss. Pear drops. Apple.

Finish: Wheat. Banana and big bitter hops. Apricot. Blackpool rock. Pear drops.

Conclusion: So this is a Tripel? Or, maybe a Belgian IPA? Actually, you know what this makes me think of? If Saison Dupont and Westmalle Tripel made the two backed beast in a back alley and then waited nine months.

It was that brisk but clean hop character that made me think of Saison Dupont. Refreshing and awakening, and with the same sweet backing, but merged with the rough edged gem sweetness of Westmalle Tripel. There is definite raw sugar and hints of well buried alcohol strength.

Even though it can be described thus, it still has very much its own character – behind the wonderfully bracing level of hops for a tripel it has this massive banana and custard middle, which is the final defining element of this beer. Together there is huge bitterness and huge sweetness, mixed in with lovely esters. Despite the massive sweetness this feels perfectly attenuated – the initially frothy middle becoming a drier take which leads out into a shining yet bitter finish.

Frankly this entire beer shows exactly why I always seem to end up preferring the Belgian take over the American ones. It wears the slight rough edges with pride and brings so much more to the beer because of that. It allows raw sugar touches, subtle esters and varied mouthfeels, all of which add up to an exceptional experience.

Absolutely lovely, the balance of Saison Dupont, Chouffe Houblon, Westmalle Tripel and more makes for a fantastic beer.

Background: Grabbed at Corks of Cotham – Been a while since I’ve had La Sennse beer, they tend to be spot on for quality so this was a no brainer. I tend to prefer the Belgian style Tripel over the American style, they tend to have a few more charming rough edges. Drunk while listening to some Against Me! for no particular reason apart from I enjoy them.

Boston Beer Co Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection New World

Boston Beer Co: Samuel Adams: Barrel Room Collection: New World (USA: Abbey Tripel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Deep overripe banana to gold. Thin white dash for a head.

Nose: Resin. Light aniseed. Caramelised brown sugar. Passion fruit. White pepper. Watermelon jolly ranchers. Golden syrup cake.

Body: White pepper. Frothy lemon sherbet taste and feel. Slightly sour grapes – both red and white. Brown sugar. Peach. Candyfloss. Hop oils. Syrup texture at back. Banoffee and vanilla.

Finish: Red grapes. Madeira cake. Slick hop oils. Blackpool rock. Banana.

Conclusion: Ok, first impressions – this is balanced nicely. It is smooth like a lot of the American takes on the Abbey Tripel, but has just enough genuine rough edges to remind me of my preferred Belgian take on the whole thing.

I think it is partially the raw sugar feel on the sweet side of things, and the pepper character behind it all. The little spark of sugar gives the impression of being a little unrefined, and a little less attenuated than it could be- while the pepper adds a little kick to the end. Both give it the charm it needs to not feel over polished.

I’m not getting a huge amount of obvious elements from the oak, I mean there is sweetness, but it is a Tripel that is expected, that is kind of a no duh. It is smooth, but yeah, it is an American take on Belgian beer, that is also a no duh. I’m sure the oak will have had its influence, but I couldn’t say what without having access to the unaged version to compare.

There is a large chunk of tropical fruitiness, though it feels somewhat more artificial than what you would usually get with the hops – it could be the slightly syrupy backing, it makes it feel like hard sweets rather than the more natural take which would have suited the beer more.

It is an impressive beer, maybe a bit too sweet – the artificial feel hurts it a bit but the mix of tropical fruit, rough edged tripel and spice strikes a rounded and impressive balance.

Not the best, but very solid, and the mix of character means it is not just a clone of what the Belgians do, but neither does it forget its roots. A very bright fruit tripel, rough edged but too sweet. Still well worth a try.

Background: I very much enjoyed my first experience with the Barrel Room Collection, so I decided to grab another one from the range from Independent Spirit. This one is a take on the abbey tripel style, and was shared with friends.

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