First, let’s not get hung up on how to pronounce Trippel (or Tripel.) Try-pel. Trip-ell. Triple. Whatever. Let’s just focus on the beer.
First, a bit of etymology on the name from Wikipedia: “The term Tripel comes from the Low Countries – that is the modern Netherlands and Belgium; though the origin of the term is unknown. The two main theories are that it indicates strength, either by a series of marks, such as crosses, on a cask – X for the weakest strength, XX for medium strength, and XXX for the strongest beer, or by reference to the original gravity of a beer which roughly corresponds to 3% abv, 6% abv and 9% abv.”
Anyhow, Green Flash brewery in San Diego, CA has put out some great brews in the past, and they’ve also fallen victim to over-hopped California IPA, so I was anxious to try this Tripel style beer that I picked up for $6 at the market. The brewers call this a “contemporary rendition of a Belgian trippel.” Let’s see how they did.
Appearance: This tripel pours a nice cloudy tangerine with a delicate and lacy head. Because of the high sugar content, there is a beautiful retained lacing that remains on the glass throughout.
Smell: What you’d expect from a tripel…wheaty, spice, and coriander. I did detect more alcohol than I’m accustomed to with this style.
Taste: Certainly a crisp and spicy mouthfeel. Generally tripels are well balanced and lacking in forward alcohol, but that’s not the case with this. I got a lot more hops than I’m used to, and certainly a lot more alcohol flavor up front. Yeah, it’s 9.7%ABV, but most beers in this style hide it deceptively. The taste profile can best be described as more champagne-y than rounded Belgian. It’s still a complex and boozy beer with sugars and spiced dominating the flavor profile. Not as balanced as I’d like.
Is this a good example of a traditional trippel? No, but it’s still a decent sipping beer for the price. I’d drink it again but probably would pass on purchasing it.