Tripel. If anyone has had a La Fin Du Monde or a Victory Golden Monkey you will quickly learn after consuming a couple glasses that this beer that, while very drinkable, it is a very strong beer that should definitely be respected.
A Belgian-style Tripel is a strong, yellow or golden ale which can range from 8%-10% in alcohol by volume (abv). Usually unfiltered, these deceptively strong ales have a distinct spicy, fruit estery and hoppy aroma. Flavor is usually fruity and spicy with warming alcohol. Malt and hop flavors are usually low but some brewers have developed hoppier versions.
The Tripel originated as an Abbey beer originally brewed in the Province of Antwerp, Belgium. Before WWII, Belgian brewers were making strong, dark beers. In order to compete with the new and popular Pilsner lagers, the monks began to experiment with pale malts and hops. While there were strong, golden ales being made before WWII, the Trappist brewers at Westmalle were the first to develop the “Tripel.” It’s unclear where the Tripel or Triple name came from but the monk’s usually brewed a low-alcohol table beer called an Enkel , meaning “single,” a Dubbel which is a darker, stronger beer (6-8% abv), and then the Tripel, which is usually the strongest. Some breweries go further and brew a Quadruple which is a very stromg, very dark ale usually ranging from 9% to 12% abv or more.
While Westmalle continues to make a great Tripel, other breweries including Belgian, U.S. and Canadian breweries have developed some great versions of this style. Some of our favorites include:
La Fin Du Monde – Unibroue
Golden Monkey – Victory Brewing Company
St. Feuillien Triple – Brasserie St. Feuillien
Tripel Karmeliet – Brouwerij Bosteels
Tripel Horse – River Horse Brewing Company
Xtra Gold Tripel – Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
Allagash Curieux – Allagash Brewing Company
Come to Get Real “Belgian Fest” and try some great examples of Belgian-style Tripel Ales!!
Tripels are close to my heart. Haven’t tracked down the Allagash yet, but my wife and I are big fans of La Fine du Monde. We actually brewed a tripel for our marriabe beer — 10 gallons, with some served at our reception as toasts, some as gifts for wedding party & such, plus we put a case of 22 oz. bottles back for ourselves. We figured, forget wedding cake, on our anniversary, we’ll drink one of these!