Original Post: Triple Valor Brew Day
Style: Belgian Tripel
Brew Date: July 16, 2014
Tasting Date: September 29, 2014
First of all, this is under-carbonated. I still have hope that it will carbonate further, but it has been in the bottle for close to a month and I’m getting impatient. There is definitely some carbonation, a light pop when I opened the bottle, some thin and short-lived head and a bit of a prickle on the tongue, but especially for this style of Abbey ale, it is not nearly enough. You may remember that I toyed with the idea of using a secondary bottle priming yeast and eventually decided against it. Maybe that was poor decision.
Aside from the lack of bubbles, the beer looks nice. It is not perfectly clear, neither is it visibly cloudy, just not perfectly permeable by light. Just as I’de expect in this type of beer. It almost seems to give it more substance. The color is like honey. Pale orange with golden highlights, like its namesake.
The alcohol comes through in the flavor. It is immediately apparent that you are drinking a strong beer. It is not alone, though. There are tons of spicy phenols and hints of fruity esters. The flavor is complex to be sure, but banana bread is the immediate impression I get. Not the fresh banana associated with hefeweizen, but the cooked, overripe banana used in baking. It tastes like banana bread, but that is not to say that it has a bready malt flavor.
Speaking of hefeweizen, the cherry character that was very upfront in the wheat beer I used this yeast for first is present here, too. It comes in at the end, even more in the aftertaste. It is much more restrained than in the other beer, probably just because there is a lot more going on in this one.
The malts are minimal, if detectable at all, at least in the flavor. I think that the flaked wheat adds a good deal to the mouth feel. This finished drier than I expected, well under 1.01 but it doesn’t feel thin. It is a bit slick and oily on the tongue but at the same time, it fills the mouth. The unexpected body from the flaked wheat mixed with high alcohol content give it an interesting texture that never feels thin.
Which brings me back to the alcohol. I know I already mentioned it, but it bears repeating. This is a strong beer and that fact is not at all hidden. Personally, I can appreciate that fact. I like being able to feel the alcohol right up front, especially in this type of beer, but it could definitely turn a lot of people off. Amy, for one.
I haven’t mentioned aroma yet. That is because the aroma is not particularly strong. Most of the aroma that is present comes from the alcohol. The fermentation fruit and spice character doesn’t come through at all. There are actually hints of malt and earthy hops that aren’t immediately evident in the flavor. These are very mild, but they add to the complexity.
Speaking of hops, I went very close to the top end of the recommended hopping rates for a Tripel, in both bitterness and flavor additions, but if anything, I’d like to taste more hops in this. The bitterness level is just about right. It balances without ever getting in the way. The very mild hop aroma is hidden completely in the actual flavor. I’d like to get a bit more. An ounce of Tettnang at flame out and an ounce of Hersbucker at five minutes seems like it should be plenty but they seem to have been all blown off during fermentation. Maybe dry hopping would be the way to go. I definitely think Tettnang should be the focal hop but I think I’d skip the flameout addition and add them in a dry hop instead.
The beer is almost gone now. This is a wonderfully complex beer that is tremendously damaged by its low carbonated. If that corrects itself in the coming weeks, this has potential to be one of my favorite brews. As it stands, it could be enjoyable as an after dinner drink or a night cap, but can’t stand up without more sparkle. Still, I had no trouble finishing my bottle, which means that these tasting notes must come to an end. If there is a significant change, maybe I’ll do another set of tasting notes around the holidays.