Tripel-off, Semi-Final Game 1: Westmalle vs. De Dolle

We’re now into the semi-finals of our Tripel-off. First up: De Dolle Dulle Teve vs. Westmalle Tripel, the reining world champ.

You might recall that this wasn’t the original match-up but Ray had a cunning plan to keep the tasting just a tiny little bit on the blind side for Jess.

  • He changed the line-ups without telling her.
  • He put Dulle Teve in a Westmalle branded glass, and Westmalle in a more generic Belgian vessel.

Two beer bottles side by side.

Both had huge, gorgeous, billowing white heads of foam. Both looked about the same colour, with Dulle Teve perhaps just a touch darker, more orange than yellow.

Our first sips were of Dulle Teve.

Jess: Oh, wow.

Ray: Same.

Jess: That’s just a lovely beer, but… Hmm… Have you put something other than in the Westmalle glass? Are you playing mindgames?

Ray: Yes, busted. That didn’t take you long to work out. It is great, though. It’s lovely. I would describe my reaction as swooning.

Jess: [Westmalle] has a much better aroma, though. Fresh and flowery. This one [Dulle Teve] smells fruity but much more restrained.

Ray: [Westmalle] is more elegant and lighter bodied. A classier beer. But.. Is there a sort of savouriness at the end?

Jess: I’m detecting a burn. Too much of a burn. It seems very boozy.

Ray: [Dulle Teve] seems almost tropically fruity. Again, great. Such wow factor.

Jess: Funny thing is, the more I drink, the better the first one [Westmalle] tastes. It reminds me of Duvel. Boozy, but also very drinkable. I think… I think I prefer it, on balance, but only just.

Drinking these two beers together was really interesting as each did strange things to our perception of the other (compare with our first-round tasting notes here and here) and both seemed to morph further into different beers in the time it took to drink them. If beer-and-beer pairing was a thing, this is a combo we’d recommend.

Deciding a winner really was difficult. In the end, though, we both agreed that by the narrowest of margins Westmalle had the edge.

That means, much as we expected from the start, it will be in the final, facing off against either Lost & Grounded or Karmeliet.

We’d like to thank Patreon supporters like Darryl Chamberlain and Bryan Robson whose support paid for the beer and access to the nice font in the header image.

Tripel Off Round 1, Match 3: De la Senne vs. De Dolle

De Dolle vs. De la Senne.

In this third Tripel taste-off match we’re looking at The New Wave with takes on the style produced by quirky breweries founded in the past 40 years.

  • De le Senne Jambe-de-Bois, Beer Merchants, £2.95, 330ml, 8% ABV
  • De Dolle Dulle Teve, Beer Merchants, £3.35, 330ml, 10% ABV

It’s getting harder to make any pretence of blind tasting as this process goes on but Ray poured so that Jess wouldn’t know which beer was in which glass.

Two bottles of beer with glasses.

Jambe-de-Bois had the more assertive carbonation of the two, with a really fierce hiss and threatening to gush. The head was absolutely rock solid and very tight. From the fridge it was quite hazy, and glowed yellow, but a later bottle, at room temperature, was clearer.

Jess said: It’s almost tart. Grapefruity. Tastes distinctly Belgian — you’d never mistake it for, say, an American beer — but also somehow modern.

Ray: I find it quite thin and a bit… Rough. It seems very dry for a tripel. But as I go, I like it more and more.

Dulle Teve had a light haze and was a deeper gold colour. It didn’t produce a particularly appetising head, just something like bubble bath. It smelled of hot booze.

Jess: Ooh, wow. This tastes like a proper tripel. A little bit of green apple but it works. Like a spicy toffee apple. The aftertaste is immense.

Ray: It’s definitely got the classic tripel yeast character. A bit of banana, some spice… It makes me think of German Christmas biscuits.

We concluded in that both beers were a little raucous and rough-edged but that Dulle Teve benefited from the extra alcohol and more substantial body. There seemed to be a lot going on, with more layers and interacting flavours.

There was no doubt here, we had a winner: De Dolle Dulle Teve is through to the next round, and De le Senne is out.

Jess: But I liked them both. I’d happily drink either of them again, and the De le Senne beer is really good value.

Ray: The winner is great but I just can’t imagine it beating Westmalle in the next round.

Jess: Well, I dunno… I really love it. Right now, I think it could go all the way.

So, to recap, Westmalle, Karmeliet and Dulle Teve are through to the next round, with one slot left to fill. Next time: the Brits!