Monday, November 8, 2010

Kasteel: Belgian Tripel

Monday night. Stopped at the local homebrew store on the way home to get some supplies and even though I was not going out to experience any of the inaugural Syracuse Beer Week events, I thought I should experience a good beer tonight anyway.

So I broke into my "beer cellar" that I only started about a month ago. There are a couple beers in the cellar that are not meant to be aged so I don't mind breaking them out before the cellar is more than a couple months old. One of the styles that can be enjoyed fresh is a Belgian Tripel, so I went with the Kasteel Tripel. Of course it wasn't cold so I brought it up to to the fridge upstairs and let it cool while I proceeded to boil up some DME for a yeast starter for the someday legendary Old Ale that I am going to brew on Thursday. My Thursday brewing is not a sanctioned Syracuse Beer Week event, but it probably should be.

Anyways, while the malt was boiling (about 1.33 pounds and 4 cups of water), I started sterilizing the growler and other equipment. I wasn't paying adequate attention to my antique stove and a boil over ensued. Bran flakes? No thanks. You can imagine the anger this awakened in me as I moved the pot off of the heat. However, instead of letting the rage engulf me, I decided to pop open a giant bottle of Belgium Tripel. Feeling the pressure of the cork pushing up as I eased it out of the bottle and seeing the icy steam pour out of the bottle was more calming than a back massage after a long flight. I knew this couldn't go wrong.

The beer poured beautifully, Golden yellow and clear with a thin and quickly dissipating head. The shiny clearness of the beer is a surprise in a yeasty beer (believe me, the angelic reflections on the bottle and glass in the picture were not wasted on me). And yeasty it is. I am still sipping some as I type. The nose is all yeast with slight hints of malt. I opened it about 5 minutes after pouring a Wyeast smack pack into a starter. So the smell was either a 5 minute time machine, or it was very yeasty. The smell scared me off at first, since I wanted something more comforting and familiar. I am now realizing that Belgian Tripels are comforting and familiar to me. Who needs hops? Ok, I do, but not tonight. This beer was a bit much at first, a very full body and heavy yeasty taste and smell. It's not super refined, somewhat bready yeast character, but there are still some spicy, not fruity, yeasties. I was a bit overwhelmed by it at first, but it soon became enjoyable. Its a little different, a beer that is very focused on yeast, but not focused on the kind of yeast character that is usually spotlighted. I thought it was too heavy at first and it stood spectator as I engulfed a Korean barbecued pork chop with white rice, but I discovered a different beer after my meal. A very enjoyable mild tripel with a focus on yeast, but a mild yeast. A beautiful color and a perfect amount of carbonation. A nose that complemented the smell and didn't hide any surprises. Overall an extremely enjoyable beer that I could enjoy very often, but for the price, it's not something that makes me say "wow." It's a good time, but not a band that makes me go "how does he do that?"

7 Steve Martins playing bluegrass on Austin City Limits out of 10.

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