The Westmalle Tripel Trappist Ale surprised me out of the gates on my initial pour – I was expecting a dark pour (akin to the Rochefort 10 – a quadruple ale), but this is a strong Belgian pale ale with a golden blond pour. I had that brief moment of panic, like when you have a glass of tea and you pick it up and take a drink thinking it’s milk. It’s not that you don’t like tea, but when you’re expecting milk there is a momentary disconnect until your brain rectifies the situation. Needless to say I didn’t realize it was a pale ale when I poured it initially so I’m sure I had a somewhat confused look on my face. Never fear, I got over it.
It’s brewed at the Westmalle Abbey, which was built in 1804 by Trappist monks fleeing the French Revolution. The key to their beer is a direct flame-fired brew kettle. This caramelizes the malts and results in a toasty toffee flavor. It also undergoes a secondary fermentation lasting 5 weeks to give it more punch. It comes, as you would expect, in a dark 11.2 oz bottle and is 9.5% ABV. I tried it in a tulip glass.
It’s a cloudy pour with a near pure white foamy head that lasts a long time – it settles down a bit but it never completely disappears. It looks like the foam on top of a latte from Starbucks. The aroma is not too strong at all – light and very clean – fruity and hoppy with citrus notes.
It’s got a remarkably clean flavor – a hint of alcohol towards the beginning but there’s more alcohol taste towards the bottom. Though hoppy there’s not much hop bitterness (perhaps it’s just balanced well with the malts you can also pull out). There’s orange and lemon flavors as well with maybe a bit of banana. Reminds me a good bit of a Blue Moon with the orange peel and coriander flavors. It also reminds me of Duvel. It has a good crisp finish of toasted toffee and citrus.
It looks like a gulper but take note, it’s a sipper. Those monks are a crafty bunch and the taste is so good that you want to down it to refresh yourself. Overrefreshing may ensue, resulting in you assuming the supine position on the floor. Try these trappist ales surrounded by pillows for best results.
Westmalle Tripel Rating: 8 out of 10 (?)
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