December 16, 2009

Maredsous Tripel

Here's another beer that I picked up at The Wine Source. This is the Maredsous Tripel, brewed by Duvel Moortgat Brewery in Belgium. I got mine in a 4-pack of bottles, but it also comes in 750mL bottles. The name is licensed to Duvel by the monks of Maredsous Abbey. I did some brief research but couldn't figure out whether the abbey ever actually brewed this beer on its premises. I think Duvel may simply have wanted a real monastery whose name they could use in order to create a line of "authentic" abbey ales. On the other hand, now that I think about it, Maredsous must have brewed its own beer at some point, because if there weren't some old recipes lying around for Duvel to follow, how could they ever claim them as authentic? Duvel definitely lent at least one thing to the Maredsous line, most noticeably the same short, wavy-necked bottles it uses for its signature golden ale.

Obviously, the Maredsous Tripel is a strong beer, at 10% ABV. When poured, the color is orange/amber, with some clarity, but not completely transparent. The head is light tan and very bubbly. The froth isn't consistent though. It's got lots of tiny bubbles mixed with huge ones that make it appear almost dough-like, or like whipped cream partially melted in coffee. Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of the head before it subsided, but maybe I'll snap one later on. The head dissipated quickly, but left thick lacing in the glass after each gulp.

The aroma is floral and fruity, as you'd expect from a Tripel. The flavors I picked out varied a bit as I went along. At first, there was a slight bitterness, more in the aftertaste, like banana or cherry, but after a few sips hints of orange, apricot, and honey came out. There was also a spice note in there, prominent but smooth and complimentary, although I couldn't put my finger on the specific flavor. It may have been cinnamon or nutmeg. I've read some other reviews that said the alcohol flavor was too strong, but it didn't bother me. Of course, it could be that the alcohol wasn't noticeable to me because I had a Sierra Nevada and a Monk's Blood beforehand. Either way, it definitely wasn't something I found bothersome even in the least. The overall taste is very smooth and refreshing. I didn't have any food with it, but I imagine pairing it with lamb or pork shank, spicy sausage, or a medium-bodied stew.

I decided to try the Tripel because I'd had the Maredsous Brune (brown ale) at Brasserie Beck in D.C. and absolutely loved it. I promise I'll review the Brune and get some pictures sometime in the future. Anyway, the Tripel is a pretty good brew but nothing about it really stands out. It's not bad, but not memorable. Don't get me wrong though, it's still a very drinkable beer, and affordable too. A 4-pack of 12 oz bottles is still the same price, or possibly cheaper than many 750mL bottles of "better" ales, depending on what you drink. If you're having guests over that enjoy something more than just the average beer, or if you simply prefer the option to stop at 12 oz rather than committing to 22, then a 4-pack of Maredsous Tripel is something you'll want to pick up at least once.

On an additional note, I had another one the next day, dead sober, and the alcohol is not overpowering at all, so if you read other reviews that say it is, take it with a grain of salt. The alcohol flavor and aroma is more apparent as the beer warms up, so if you take an hour to drink 12 oz of beer, then you may have a problem, but if you take 25 minutes or less to enjoy a single bottle, then you'll be okay.

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