Belgian Tripel in a Snifter

Overview for the Tripel Beer Style

The Belgian Tripel originated at the Trappist monastery Westmalle. The beer was first brewed in 1931 and was first sold in 1934. Its recipe has not changed since 1956. The name Tripel likely followed the protocol established from the Single and Dubbel beer styles. However, it also happened to Westmalle’s third beer. Its color ranges from deep gold to copper with good clarity and effervescence. Its feel should be around medium with high carbonation and high attenuation for a seemingly dry finish. Though high in alcohol, the booze should be masked well. Its palate and aroma are spicy, fruity, with a well-rounded malt character and moderate bitterness. Comparatively, the Tripel is darker and fuller than the Belgian Strong Pale Ale with more pronounced phenols than esters. And it’s not as strong or full as the Belgian Strong Dark Ale or Quadrupel.

Style Expectations

The Belgian Tripel is a pale, somewhat spicy, dry, strong Trappist ale with a pleasant rounded malt flavor and firm bitterness. Quite aromatic, with spicy, fruity, and light alcohol notes combining with the supportive clean malt character to produce a surprisingly drinkable beverage considering the high alcohol level.

Appearance

Deep yellow to deep gold in color. Good clarity. Effervescent. Long-lasting, creamy, rocky, white head resulting in characteristic Belgian lace on the glass as it fades.

Aroma

Complex bouquet with moderate to significant spiciness, moderate fruity esters and low alcohol and hop aromas. Generous spicy, peppery, sometimes clove-like phenols. Esters are often reminiscent of citrus fruits such as oranges, but may sometimes have a slight banana character. A low yet distinctive spicy, floral, sometimes perfumy hop character is usually found. Alcohols are soft, spicy and low in intensity. The malt character is light, with a soft, slightly grainy-sweet or slightly honey-like impression. The best examples have a seamless, harmonious interplay between the yeast character, hops, malt, and alcohol.

Flavor

Marriage of spicy, fruity and alcohol flavors supported by a soft, rounded grainy-sweet malt impression, occasionally with a very light honey note. Low to moderate phenols are peppery in character. Esters are reminiscent of citrus fruit such as orange or sometimes lemon, and are low to moderate. A low to moderate spicy hop character is usually found. Alcohols are soft, spicy, and low in intensity. Bitterness is typically medium to high from a combination of hop bitterness and yeast-produced phenolics. Substantial carbonation and bitterness lends a dry finish with a moderately bitter aftertaste with substantial spicy-fruity yeast character. The grainy-sweet malt flavor does not imply any residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel

Medium-light to medium body, although lighter than the substantial gravity would suggest. Highly carbonated. The alcohol content is deceptive, and has little to no obvious warming sensation. Always effervescent.

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