Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Straffe Hendrik Tripel

Near the top of my list of favorite beer styles is the Belgian Tripel. I can't get enough of these beers and regularly have a homebrewed clone version of Chimay's Cinq Cents on tap at my house, (yeah, pretty pedestrian but they make a great tripel). So when I saw a unique brand on display at the Whole Foods beer cooler I snatched it up to do my typical comparison to the giant of Tripels, Chimay.

The Straffe Hendrik Brugean Tripel is less of a strict Belgian tripel but seems to be more of a cross between a Belgian Dubbel and tripel. De Halve Maan (the half moon) Brewery claims to be the only authentic(?) Belgian brewery in the city of Bruges for whatever that's worth. The brewery first mentioned in town records from 1546 has been owned by Maes-Vanneste family since 1856. For more information about this historical brewery go here.

What is authentic and for that matter more valuable is the flavor and quality of this beer. I like it a lot. For a tripel there is an inordinate amount of caramel malts that causes the flavors to lean Dubbel but the crisp spiciness and perfumy aroma and flavors are classic Tripel that include subtle alcohol vapors. This is a complex beer but the abundance of crystal malts confuses me as I approach it with my mind set to experience a Tripel. The color is darker, like light copper but not as dark as most Dubbels. Again, confusing but oh so delicious. A fuller mouthfeel with a long lasting head this beer is satisfying and rich but dries quickly and begs for another sip. This beer is 9% abv. with a price tag to match. At  about $10 per 25oz. bottle, it felt a little pricey. Finally, it's easy for me to praise this beer and I highly recommend it if you can find it in your area.

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