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100 Words: In Love With Tripel

Illustration: a Belgian tripel in the glass.

We keep thinking about Belgian Tripels.

We’ve said that Westmalle Tripel is, without doubt or debate, so shut up, the best beer in the world.

But maybe Tripel is the best style.

A good Tripel demonstrates how a beer can be balanced without being bland or paltry. Sweetness reined in by bitterness, richness met by high carbonation, with spice and spicy yeast pulling it all together.

Complex without drama. Subtly luxurious. Affordable art.

Yes, very affordable: you can still buy some of the highest-regarded examples for less than three quid a bottle, and a suitable glass for not much more.

6 replies on “100 Words: In Love With Tripel”

It is true that when I lived in London, I missed Tripel so much. There is not enough breweries making this style of beer even though consumers love it!
My favorite one was maybe Anspach & Hobday pink pepper and chardonnay barrel-aged, a jewel. Of course, the Buxton belgian serie is breath of fresh air too.

It’s interesting that the fetishisation of hops (varieties, combinations, amounts, when they’re added to the process) seems to be the cutting edge of beer at the moment, but, the Tripel, like lots of classic old world styles, hops seems to be much more a unified part of the whole.

Personally, I steer towards crafty hop bombs, but I keep finding myself finishing of a session with a Tripel or an Orval.

It is a marvellous style, and Westmalle is the supreme example of it – although I do like the new-wave examples, I guess started by Tripel Karmeliet.
Although I love hop-forward beers of pretty much all types, I do love balance, and although I would say that I prefer Orval, I’ll probably accept Tripel as the best style.

Perhaps I just haven’t drunk enough tripels, will have to put that right. I have to say though that I am very partial to a Belgian quad.

I’d love to do a taste test some time with a few tripels and Batham’s Bitter – seriously, it reminded me more of a tripel than of any other British beer. (A session-strength tripel, granted.)

It does have a similar colour and balance, now you come to mention it.

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