Monday, July 19, 2010

Beer Style Breakdown 101: Tripels

So far, we've covered two styles of European beer, hefeweizens and saisons.  Today, we'll learn about one more style of Belgian beer before diving into domestic brews next week.  I wanted to save today's class until the end of the summer but I couldn't wait any longer...tripels are my favorite.

(Fret not, hop heads.  There is malty, bitter, tastebud-annihilating goodness in your future.)

On that note, let's pour.

Style:  Tripel
Country of Origin:  Belgium, Netherlands

Tripels are commonly associated with Trappist monasteries.  There are six Trappist breweries in the world and one of them, Westmalle, was the first to introduce this style of beer to the industry.  The history behind Trappist monks and their breweries is fascinating...we'll revisit that another day.

The color of a tripel ranges from pale yellow (similar to a pilsner) to a deep, golden hue.  Common traits in a tripel are fruity notes (apple, pear, apricot), a distinct yeast character, hints of pepper and hops and a slight "warmth" from the high percentage of alcohol, with the ABV (alcohol by volume) ranging anywhere from 7%-11%.  

And I'm not just referring to the warmth in your face or chest as you work your way through the glass.  You can pick up on some heat in the aroma, especially as the beer returns to room temperature.

My personal favorites:  Weyerbacher Merry Monks Ale (PA), Westmalle Tripel (Belgium), The Bruery Tradewinds Tripel (CA)

Unibroue La Fin du Monde and Victory Golden Monkey are popular with tripel fans and widely available, as well.

(Sidenote:  the Bruery uses Thai basil in their tripel - a totally unique yet complementary ingredient.)

One of the beautiful things about a good tripel is that the high amount of alcohol is masked well so the beer doesn't come across as too boozy or overwhelming.  Of course, this could be dangerous if you're a chugger but come on now...why chug when you can sip and really taste?


  1. I think that you & Mike should be trappist monks for Halloween this fall, and give out tripels!

  2. Oh hai Harry! I knew that if anything would bring you out of the woodwork and get you to post on here, it would be beer :)

    We'll be Trappist monks and you and Steph can dress up as traditional Bavarian dancers.

  3. "Brewed with Rice and Thai Basil." How about that. I've never tried that one but it certainly sounds interesting. Big fan of Fin du Monde, though =)

  4. La Fin du Monde was the first tripel I ever tried - you brought it to F44 one night, I think when Colleen and Eric threw a NYE party in '06?

    I distinctly remember it tasting "smoky", back before I really understood what I was drinking.

  5. @Ali - Hi, I have been a long time lurker of the blog. Steph checks it too. Today I finally got the whole comments issue worked out; I've tried commenting before, but something about the main browser I use at work was not posting the comments.

    It is sorted now. And we'll have to meet up some time to go to Meridian Pint and/or the bier garten.

  6. I love belgium beers! I'm going to try every beer you recommend. Probably in a single day.

  7. do people still chug? lol great info on belgium beers, a great place just opened up near here that features new beers from around the world every month, we are anxious to visit