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.