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Day #4 – New Belgium Trippel

January 5, 2011

Today is day 4, and while I can confess to having some apprehension about undertaking this massive project, the positives have already made it worth it.  I have already had several people voice their appreciation and interest in this, which has provided a great deal of motivation to continue.  Thank you for that.

I started off this post writing about craft beer and the current state of the industry.  If you know me at all, you know I am slightly passionate about beer and brewing, and it’s no surprise that my post turned into something much more than a mere introduction to this review.  If you are interested in learning a bit more about craft beer and breweries, I encourage you to check out my previous post “What is Craft Beer?“.

New Belgium Trippel

New Belgium Brewing Company is located in Fort Collins, Colorado and is the 3rd largest craft brewery in America, trailing Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada.  They have an annual production of around half a million barrels and growing.  (I just had a flashback to Flintstones vitamins.  If you know what I’m talking about then you must have been a Flintstones kid.)  You might recognize them from their flagship beer, Fat Tire.  I’m certain I will get around to reviewing Fat Tire eventually, after all I have 361 days left!

The beer I am reviewing today is classified as an Abbey Trippel.  This style originated in the Trappist monasteries of Belgium where the brewers are all monks.  Most of these monasteries only produce enough beer to cover their living expenses and productions costs, making their beer a little more difficult to come by.  I’ll go more in-depth about this when I review an actual Trappist beer.  The New Belgium version is merely representative of the style.  The biggest element here is the use of Belgian yeast, which provide a distinctly fruity aroma and flavor.  It should be served in a Trappist glass or Tulip.  I chose a New Belgium glass which is a mix of a snifter and a Trappist glass.  It is effective for serving this beer.

On to the beer…

As I popped the cap on this beer, I grew a little concerned by the lack of hiss escaping the bottle.  The bottle I had was over-filled, thereby leaving less room at the top for CO2 to carbonate the beer.  To create a decent sized head, I had to agitate the beer quite a bit during the pour, holding the bottle a good 6 inches away from the glass.  This causes a lot of splashing and disturbances that create a nice foamy head.  Don’t be fooled!  A head on beer is absolutely a good thing!  This agitates the beer and releases important aroma compounds that may not otherwise be apparent.  It’s always a good idea to swirl the beer a bit before taking in that all important first sniff.

The beer is a fairly hazy golden-orange color, with a foamy white head.  You can see in this picture just how hazy this beer is.  This is not necessarily a bad thing in a beer as it might be true to the style.

This beer has a fairly pleasant aroma.  As I mentioned before, the Belgian yeast provide a fruity essence to the beer.  This is usually experienced in a banana-like aroma with a sense of cloves as well.  This is the case here, with a spicy element also of coriander and the slightest bit of citric acid.

The flavor has an upfront taste of coriander spice; very earthy and spicy-sweet.  A grainy flavor also comes into play, with a tiny bit of alcohol sting on the back of the palate.  Speaking of which, the ABV of this beer is 7.8%.  You cannot taste the alcohol in this as it is masked by the fruit and spice notes, but it can be felt on the finish.

This is a decent attempt at the Trippel style, but it doesn’t even come close to the true Trappist beers of Belgium.  I will review those at a later date.

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