Tripel-Off Final: Westmalle vs. Karmeliet

Belgian Tripels -- winner!

We finally have a winner – we now know which is the best Tripel, no arguesy-backs.

The final, between the defending champion Westmalle and plucky AB-InBev-owned underdog Karmeliet was a tense game that went right down to the wire. You could have cut the atmosphere with a brick, Brian, and so on.

Both beers were essentially flawless, as you’d expect considering the competition they saw off. There’s no doubt: these are both great, delicious, delightful Tripels.

Karmeliet was sweeter with a distinct pear drop character we hadn’t detected in earlier rounds. It seemed less complex than its opposition, which is not to say there wasn’t plenty going on – just eight tracks of overdubs rather than sixteen.

Westmalle had all the same stuff but with a firmer bitterness, and more layers – stewed fruit, cloves, banana, kazoo, string quartet, bloody booze! It seemed more solid, too, almost custard-like on the tongue.

But maybe all that weight and depth is too much? Karmeliet is just such fun, so light and exciting.

So, which will triumph? Spritz, or solidity? Pop, or baroque?

It was genuinely tough to call, and almost went to a tie-breaking Patreon supporter vote.

But before we get to the final result, here’s a bit of half-time entertainment: what did Twitter reckon?

A decisive win for Westmalle, then, and absolutely nobody will be surprised to hear that it’s also our winner.

Yes, that’s right – seven blog posts dragged out over several months to conclude that the beer we’ve previously called the best in the world is, indeed, the best Tripel.

Still, drinking a load of beers in this wonderful style was no hardship, and we’ve gained a renewed appreciation for several classics we had been tending to overlook.

We’d say that if you’ve not had Karmeliet recently and were put off by the quality dip a few years ago, do give it another try, and Dulle Teve is very much a new obsession for us.

So, same again in four years time?

2 thoughts on “Tripel-Off Final: Westmalle vs. Karmeliet”

  1. Westmalle Tripel also had a dip a few years back. Back on top form now and one of my favourite beers. Belgians are blessed to have beers like this and Rochefort 8 and 10 on sale in almost any supermarket. Orval also superb but hard to find in non-specialist stores in Belgium. The brewery can’t keep up with demand.

  2. I am still a little disappointed that De Ranke’s Guldenburg wasn’t in the line-up. And De Glazen Toren’s Ondineke Oilsjtersen would have been a worthy competitor, too. Not sure that either would change the result, but they would add flair to the game!

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