This week has been rather warm, so I decided to crack open a lighter beer. I’ve been doing a lot of IPAs, so I went with a Belgian instead, grabbing Moab Brewery’s Tripel. Moab was started in 1996 by John Borkoski and Dave Sabey and claims to be the only brewery still in Utah, although I know that there are a couple of brewpubs in the state, too. The current brewmaster is Jeff Van Horn, who started the Desert Select Ale brewing program, which consists of a number of high-gravity, bottle-conditioned beers.
The beer poured a hazy solid gold, although I ended up with a fair amount of yeast in mine despite my best efforts because the bottle design doesn’t aid a smooth pour at all. The head formed as a single finger of very fine, pure white foam, but the retention was poor, with the head settling out in just a minute or two. The aroma was a surprisingly dark, malty, yeasty combination with some hints of apple cider in it. The mouthfeel is fairly thick, with very low carbonation and a moderately heavy body. The taste was fairly bitter up front, and it lingered on, only partially balanced by the sweetness. The taste was a muddled combination of yeast and spices, with the bitterness casting a shadow over everything.
This beer was interesting, though not what I expected from a tripel. I’m used to tripels having a lighter malt profile than this one, as the malt sweetness reminded me of darker German beers. The beer also lacked the lighter citrus notes that I love in other tripels. It instead had a lot more of the hop bitterness. Overall it reminded me more of an unfiltered American amber ale than a good Belgian tripel. This isn’t a bad beer, but I found the label to be a bit misleading and would only recommend it to people who like sweeter IPAs, like Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute.
This beer will pair well with very creamy cheeses. Those of you who read this column regularly know that I love brie, which I think will go well with this beer. I would actually stay away from the harder cheeses in this case, as I think their complexity will be overwhelmed, but I think goat cheese might be a good candidate, too. Grilled food will go well, as will spicy Cajun food, which the brewery’s website specifically recommends for this pairing. They also recommend non-chocolate desserts like amaretto tart and baklava. These I’m not so sure about, given the beer bitterness, but it would at least be interesting to try. This beer should definitely be served in a tulip glass if you have it or a wine glass otherwise.