On Tap: Tripels

Brewery: Flying Fish
Beer: Exit 4
Bottle, Can, or Draft: 12 oz bottle
Appearance: Clear golden straw, with a beautiful white head that eventually diminishes.
Flavor Profile: A crisp, floral taste with a sweet citrusy finish. It is medium-bodied with a delicate, spritzy mouthfeel.
User Profile: You enjoy pale ales and pilsners but want to expand your repertoire. Or, you’re looking for a light beer that stands apart from the others, as this beer doesn’t scrimp on taste or ABV.
Occasion: Happy hour (one beer will have you feeling quite happy) or outdoor get-togethers. Unlike some pale ales that benefit from a food pairing, this beer stands on its own.
Similar Brews: New Belgium Brewing Company’s Trippel, which is a little less sweet and brewed with coriander, and Gouden Carolus Tripel, imported from Belgium.

If you’re not familiar with tripels (or trippels as they are sometimes called) let me indoctrinate introduce you. Chances are you’ll fall in love with them, as I did, and spring will look a lot brighter with a new beer to drink, nay, savor. A tripel is a style of strong pale ale, originating in the “Low Counties” of Europe, mainly the Netherlands and Belgium. Where the term “tripel” originated from I am not sure; some say it refers to the fact that brewers use a larger amount of malt than a standard abbey ale. Fittingly, the first tripel released (by the Belgian brewery Westmalle) was called Superbier. Most people think high alcohol content goes hand-in-hand with dark beer styles, mainly stouts and bocks. Yet tripels weigh in at anywhere from 8 to 12%! This is means you can benefit from a heavier alcoholic content (hello spring festivals!) without having to drink a stout in 60 degree weather.

Tripels are complex and flavorful, with floral, fruity, and spicy flavors. They are sweet and crisp; I like to think of them as the champagne of beers. Flying Fish’s Exit 4 is a favorite of mine that comes from the East Coast, and last year managed to win the Washington Post’s Beer Madness. Yet, when I returned to school in the Midwest, Exit 4 was nowhere to be found. Lucky for me, New Belgium Brewing Company’s self-titled Trippel is killer (pictured above.) Both are extremely enjoyable to drink, and therefore a little mischevious – their complex flavors and champagne-y feel disguise their strength. But hey, it’s beautiful out, and if you ask me, I have yet to find a time of day where I don’t enjoy sippin’ on a tripel. Try this beer with seafood or with dessert – chocolatey, fruity, and creamy are all good places to start.

Kenzie Zimmer is on the hunt for this year’s Beer Madness winner, Maui Coconut Porter, but suspects her chances are quite slim so near the Canadian border.

Originally posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

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