Abbey-style ale offers a smooth, honeylike taste | The Triangle
Arts & Entertainment

Abbey-style ale offers a smooth, honeylike taste

Inthe smallvillageof Buggenhout, Belgium,thereis a brewery called Bosteels Brewery. This brewery has beeninthe hands of the Bosteels family for seven generations andover200 years. The brewery was established by Evarist Bosteelsin1791, and it has beenpasseddown fromfatherto son eversince. It is currently under the management of Ivo Bosteels and his son Antoine, the 6th and 7th generations, respectively. The Bosteels are known for brewing threeuniquebeers: Kwak, Tripel Karmeliet and Dues.

Tripel Karmeliet is a three-grainbeer still brewed to a recipe originating in 1679. The recipe waswrittenintheformerCarmelite monasteryinDendermonde, Belgium. Thus, the name “Tripel Karmeliet” is a tribute both to the style of beer anditsorigin.

The Tripel style is Trappist or Abbey-style alethatis usually considered to be a strong pale ale around 8 to 9percentalcohol by volume. Tripels tend to be fruitier, crisper and more refreshing than the other Trappist/Abbey styles of Singel, Dubbel and Quadrupel.

The brewery has developed a special glass for this beer; however, a standard tulip glass will do just fine if you can get along without a fleur-de-lis to gauge the head as you pour. The beer is a cloudy yellow color, with a creamy, full head. After the head dissipates, a thin white foam remains, which sticks to the sides of the glass. A high protein content accounts for the cloudiness and thick head. If you are not a fan of yeast flavors, avoid pouring the yeast deposit from the bottom of the bottle into your glass.

The nose presents hops,wheat, oatmeal, fruit and notes of bread crust. Some may also detect a faint saltiness reminiscent of sea breeze. Wheat is the dominant flavor in the beer, even though oats and barley are also used. Fruit flavors are also predominant — mostly citrus fruits like lemon and orange zest. Oatmeal and banana flavors linger through the finish. Both the wheat and oatmeal flavors are grainy in nature.

Themost uniquecharacteristic of this beer is the mouthfeel.Thereis a strong carbonation up front,whichimmerses your taste buds, fighting tocover upthe flavors. The carbonation then yields to a full body and a very smooth, thick, creamy finish.Thereis a sweet honeylike flavor that is detectable after the carbonation has worn off but before the citrus comes through. The sweetness intensifies, and the beer mellows out as it warms.

This beer seems surprisingly drinkable despite the robust mouthfeel. The drinkability may be attributed to the balance of the carbonation, body, grainy flavors and tartness delivered by the citrus. Overall this is an amazing beer — a must-try for anyone who appreciates a Belgian Tripel.