Tag Archive: Abbey Tripel


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.

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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.

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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.

Alchemist Melgian Tripel

Alechemy: Melgian Tripel (Scotland: Abbey Trippel: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany touched gold. Thin dash of off white islands for a head. Still and clear of main body.

Nose: Hard boiled sweets and candyfloss. Strawberry sweets and soft banana sweets. Brown sugar.

Body: Caramelised sugar. Crème brulee. Pear drops. Fruity esters. Brown bread. Vanilla slice. Treacle.

Finish: Crème brulee. Candyfloss. Brown sugar. Hard boiled sweets. Bready. Banana chews.

Conclusion: OK, i will put my hands up and confess that for the dubbel and tripel styles I am massively biased towards the common rough edged diamond Belgian take on the style as opposed to the smoother craft wave interpretation. This, therefore, grabs my affections early on by its very evident rough edged sweet flavours. The texture is smooth, but the flavour isn’t afraid to leave a few unpolished edges.

It is very sweet, more so than the Belgian takes, and while it does have the same nice funky yeast and esters, it doesn’t use them as heavily so doesn’t have as much contrast to give it the counter balance it needs.

Still, saying that, I am slowly getting more pear drops now. Admittedly pear drops, dropped in treacle and coated in banana chews, but it is that kind of flavour mash up that I love from the style. The big sweetness you get from the brown sugar and crème brulee make for a backbone which it uses as a base for exploding into more subtle elements.

Over time that pear drop style gets bigger and bigger until it finally becomes the proper contrast the beer needs, and it is in the final third of the beer that is where it finally shines. It manages to both show respect to the style and bring its own quirks.

So, it has flaws, it is a bit too sweet, but it does give you a rough edged ride with green fruit against dessert and hard sweets in exchange. Which is awesome.

I am wondering how it will age now. Probably well, though I fear it would smooth the rough edges too much and lose some charm. You can’t tell until you try. As is, it ain’t perfect, but it is a joyous wee burst of a tripel.

Background: This was brewed with Melissa Cole, I thought I had encountered the name, so I did a search and she made the Thai Bo with Otley a few years back. She also does a very good beer blog, which you should check out. This was drunk while listening to a mix of some Heavens to Betsy and Grimes. I had just rewatched Peter Capaldi’s first Doctor Who episode on iplayer, so was in a right chuffed mood.

Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux

Dupont: Avec Les Bons Voeux (Belgium: Abbey Tripel: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow. Large mounded bubbled white head. Some sediment.

Nose: Crisp. Bitter and wheaty. Apricot and cinnamon. Jiff lemon. Brown bread.

Body: Bitter. Cinnamon. Earthy spice. Sour dough. Slight honeyed barley. Steam beer. Light lemon sherbet. Soft apricot and dried banana.

Finish: Bitter. Liquorice. Lime hops. Cumin. Treacle notes. Dried apricot. Slight chocolate chews.

Conclusion: I have the horrid urge to have the entirety of this conclusion be “Not as good as Saison Dupont”, but I think that would be slightly unfair. For one thing, despite the house style similarities, this is not a saison.

Spoiler warning, this is not as good as saison dupont.

Then again, Dupont Saison is one of my favourite beers. This takes a similar approach to hops, very crisp and bitter styled, and it adds a large amount of spice into the mix, from heavy grounding spices with a turmeric style to sweeter cinnamon notes. There’s even a cloying liquorice stick like finish. It is very flavoursome and complex, but, for me at least, the spice feels like it is a set of heavy boots stomping over the interesting elements below.

Underneath is soft lemon and apricot notes, into dried apricot and lime on the send off. There’s even an interesting texture. The best was I can describe it is like the Californian common/steam beer. That almost hazy feel that is almost evanescent on the tongue. It reminds me a bit of Saison De Pipaix in feel, but with a better base. Despite these interesting notes the cumin and liquorice elements weigh in so heavy that it still feels over spiced. I don’t even know if this beer is made with spices, It’s just the flavours I get, however I would not be surprised.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Dupont couldn’t just turn out their Saison again and say “Hey, a new beer”. There just would be no point. Even with all the spice and higher abv, it does have some saison like notes, and some notes in common with that legendry beer, while still being a very distinct beer itself. It brings so many elements even with the spice, there’s great dried banana and apricot notes

It’s just…well I can’t see a reason to go with this one. What it does well is what it has in common with their saison, and the spice notes don’t enhance it and at times actually hurt it, making it slightly closed.

Not bad, and with a very complex base, but suffers due to the spice.

Background: Saison Dupont is easily one of the best saisons in the world, and has given Dupont a very high reputation with me. This is their seasonal beer, with Bons Voeux translating as “good wishes”. This was drunk while listening to The Eel’s live album “Oh what a beautiful morning”, which I , of course, listened to in the evening. This was picked up from “The Beer Emporium” while I was on a big of a Belgian beer kick. Which admittedly is 90% of the time. Belgian beer is awesome.

NP10

Tiny Rebel: NP10 (Wales: Abbey Tripel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Clear with a colour like tropical fruit juice. Froths up a bit but the white head does not settle. Some carbonation mid body.

Nose: Yeastie. Dried banana. Fresh white bread. Mango. Candy floss.

Body: Banana. Candy Cane. Watermelon. Apricot. Hard Sweets. Yeastie middle.

Finish: Light bitterness. Dry malt. Pineapple. Yeastie. Candyfloss.

Conclusion: Ok, this is nice, maybe a bit rough around the edges, but, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I prefer a bit of a rough edge to my Belgian style beers, both because it feels closer to the native Belgian interpretations and also because that roughness often provides a lot of charm.

The thing is, that this never goes beyond just nice. It doesn’t use the rough edges to do anything. For that matter it doesn’t even seem to leverage any of the opportunities brought along with its high abv. It doesn’t do anything to push the boat out and make something special. When you have such a high abv, and when you have a roughness to your beer you really need that something special to make it worthwhile.

The elements of the beer are by the numbers Belgian ale. The yeast feel is there, the banana notes, the candy cane and hard sweets. The necessary elements are present, and all nice, if a bit more boozy feeling than it earns, but again none of them shine. The Belgian market is already flooded with very high quality examples of these kind of beers, and this needs something to stand out.

So, I guess in the end it is slightly disappointing. It is nice, but for an event beer and a beer from such a good brewery it doesn’t have any spark. It apes the Belgian style well but does not add anything nor stand alone.

So, not bad, just an underwhelming 10%er.

Background: Tiny Rebel seems to be finally getting the exposure they deserve, showing up around Bath and Bristol, and have their own craft beer bar in Cardiff. This was however found at the old trustworthy Independent Spirit. Tiny Rebels first attempt at a Belgian abbey style I think so I definitely wanted to grab it.

Moa Tripel

Moa: St Joseph’s Tripel (New Zealand: Abbey Tripel: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Utterly still despite my best attempts on pouring. Grain yellow.

Nose: Candyfloss. Tangerine. Fruit sugars. Brown sugar. Blackpool rock. Strawberry yogurt touch at times.

Body: Smooth. Banana and custard. Blackpool rock. Passion fruit. Kiwi. Tangerine. Candyfloss. Almost raspberry pavlova and light pineapple. Golden syrup.

Finish: Raspberry sweets. Barley. Brown sugar. Some bitterness. Brown bread. Passion fruit. Light spice touch.

Conclusion: This tastes like an aged beer, possibly it may be. I really don’t know, these beers can take a long time to reach the UK. All I know is it has been in my hands under a month. Despite that the beer is so smooth to the extent of night feeling light on the tongue, and is utterly still of body. Both elements I associate with aged beers.

Anyway, despite the very light feel in texture, the flavours delivered by this are huge and fruity. The strength of flavour definitely belies the weight of the texture touch. The flavours are very NZ hop fruity, and the main Tripel elements seem to be used more as a base for this. For the Tripel traditional elements you have banana like sweetness, candy floss and brown sugar, with just some hints of Belgian yeastiness, however these are definitely secondary.

What booms instead are fruit sugars, pineapple, tangerine and passion fruit. You get other fruit at the edges, but frankly that is still a massive amount to have up front. In this it feels very similar to the highly hopped barley wines, with nods to the Tripel style distinguishing it.

As often happens with non Belgian takes on Belgian styles I find myself having to fight expectations. This has little of the yeastiness or that rough cut gem feel that you get with a lot of Belgian takes on the style, instead leaning more towards a smoothness of character that I expect of USA interpretations, and that does make it feel even more barley wine like.

As a beer in itself it is dangerously drinkable for the abv, it has but a light shimmer of the strength that is actually present within. It isn’t my favourite Tripel, I would say Rulles does the fruity style better without losing the base nature, but it is still a delicious and different take – dangerously light but full fo flavour. I do prefer more hard edges to my Tripels, but it would be churlish to deny that this is a fine drink.

Background: I had to put off drinking and reviewing this one for a while. I had got a few Moa beers for my sis and her husband for Christmas, and while I was at it I got one for myself. Reviewing them would kind of give the game away. Anyway, Christmas has passed and so the beer is broken open. Picked up from Independent Spirit. Yes, again.

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