Trippel - New Belgium, Fort Collins
I've come to realize a something about New Belgium recently. Well, it feels like I've known it for a while but only recently come to terms with it. Either way, there seems to be something about New Belgium and their beers that I just don't like. It's been less than a week since I visited Fort Collins as part of an extravagant beer run that spanned 1500 miles and about as many dollars. As we walked into the New Belgium tasting room that morning I remember looking at the tap handles and thinking, "Well, I've already had all of these beers and I didn't really like any of them... would it be rude to just leave now?" We spent our drink tokens and walk around looking at all the recycled bike art and the retro Cruiser bikes. When we left New Belgium it occurred to me that they might make better bikes than beers...
In all honesty, the stop at New Belgium was fun but it did feel like an obligatory stop and I'm glad we knocked it out early in the day. The New Belgium facility is great but there's a lingering feeling that this is the house that Fat Tire built... Less than a stellar beer, Fat Tire really sets the stage for New Belgium's whole line up. Of the styles that New Belgium brews year round their Trippel appealed to me the most. This is a beer I'd had before and wasn't impressed with. Even on tap at the tasting room in Fort Collins I was less than enthused about drinking it ever again. Much to my surprise, when I returned home, there was a bottle of Trippel waiting for me in the fridge. And just like that early morning brewery visit, I figured I'd better just get this out of the way...
New Belgium Trippel pours a strangely super clear golden orange color. It's not the color that I find odd, but the near crystal level of clarity... Tripels are a very flavorful style in part because they are unfiltered, sedimenty and naturally unkempt. The head on this beer is thinner than expected but still respectable, though it does dissipate quite early. As I drank through this glass of Trippel I realized that, no matter how good or bad it actually tastes, my favorite part about this beer has to be the lacing. My entire glass is covered in lines and spots from the receding beer line. The body doesn't looks quite like I'd expect but the lacing makes up for it.
Ultimately, every beer comes down to taste. This can be the best or worst looking beer in the world but you'll probably never remember, at least not if the flavor is where it needs to be. If you're been paying any amount of attention thus far you're expecting me to say that the Trippel wasn't any good. Well, yes and no... there's some truth to that in the sense that this isn't a Tripel I'd choose over another Tripel. It's probably one of my least favorites, stylistically speaking. However, this beer does have redeeming qualities which are worth mentioning. It all comes down to the flavor and New Belgium's Trippel tastes pretty good. In the grand scheme of things it tastes like a sweeter and much lighter version of a Trappist Tripel. In a vacuum though, the Trippel tastes pretty good. It's sweet citrus body is light and refreshing while the malt is pale and keeps you grounded. The finish is more pale than sweet and ends with a pinch of spice. It's all very drinkable considering the 7.8% ABV.
Would I recommend this Trippel to a friend? Yes. Would I recommend this Tripel to a friend? No... There's an important distinction to make here. This beer is named Trippel, with two Ps. The style is Tripel, with one P. Stylistically speaking, this beer leaves a lots to be desired. I don't know what the brewers did to make this beer so clear but I'd love to try a version of the Trippel without being filtered or racked on gelatin... I think you'd get a more full bodied Tripel with more of that natural funk and sweet/sour medley.
In the end though, it all comes back to taste. Did I enjoy the flavor of this beer? Yes, it was a pleasant early evening beer and at 7.8% ABV it warmed me up without leaving me worn out. The flavor throughout this glass of Trippel was consistently tasty and I wouldn't mind drinking this again. A six pack seems like a bit much because of the ABV but I wouldn't mind having a few extra on hand for later.
So there you have it. If you go into this beer expecting a Tripel, you'll be disappointed. If you go into this beer expecting a Tripel, you'll have a pretty good time.