Monday 16 August 2010

Westmalle Tripel

Your author, via video beer-phone
The video beer-phone rang last night with an urgent request from Connecticut, origin of a rather small percentage of the world's emergency calls but a frequent enough location for those making a guest appearance in this blog. Though not a monk, the brother at the other end suggested a monk's brew, Westmalle Tripel.

His proposal was surely divinely inspired because this Trappist beer was about the only bottle of any type I had left in the house. Apart from those bottles I've been aging. And a few other bottles awaiting a formal tasting. OK, there are a rather a lot, really, but not nearly as many as usual because I've not been shopping properly since returning from holiday last week. (Remember the Middle East beers?)

I say "properly" because I am becoming progressively less inspired when I go to the local shops and supermarkets here in Brussels. As I mentioned back in April, it's hard to find anything out of the ordinary in Belgian beer even here in the heart of Belgium.

Of course, the bars are a bit different, especially places like Moeder Lambic. But the shops around town are generally too limited. Perhaps it's just that I've reached level two of Mario Brothers Beer Snob, but I find it disappointing: why can't Belgian shops and supermarkets offer a greater variety of this country's own famous product?

Warning: Drinking this beer is subversive
Still, one fairly common tipple in the shops here that I've not grown tired of is Westmalle Tripel. I formally reviewed this beer during the early days of the 40b40, but it's been a regular, if always temporary, resident of my bottle stash in recent months. Rereading my original tasting notes from two and a half years ago, I'm surprised I didn't like it much first time around, but then, I was going through my anti-strong-blond-ale phase. Man, I'm a moody moo.

Now, an odd thing about the bottle of Westmalle Tripel purchased on the left-hand coast of the pond compared to that acquired on the right is a government warning on the former, which is absent from the latter. Does this mean the American variety of the beverage is more injurious to health? Or is it that the US is more of a nanny state than Belgium?

Brother monk, where's your robe?
Anyway, enough of politics; on to the tasting... Westmalle Tripel is classic in the strong blond ale style: grapefruit pith and notably strong alcohol, with high fizz, turning rich and creamy in the mouth. It also has notes of black pepper. Not bad, really... for an easy-to-find beer.

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