What’s in a Name – Tripels

Tripel this, Tripel that…What the hell is a Tripel??? This coming from your’s truly, who named his own Tripel, “Brimstone”. Allow me to introduce my two friends, the almighty Westmalle Tripel, and the secularly leaning Duvel (Devil, Satan, Lucifer…oh wait, those are already other brands in Belgium) Duivel means Devil in Flemish. Both Tripel and the Belgian Strong Are From The Same Lineage. One is sacred, the other is secular. Both will get you messed up, if you are drinking them on an empty stomach. More lessons on that topic to come… 

Back to the story, the monk’s made beer long ago for their own sustenance and eventually sold some to raise a bit of revenue to sustain the upkeep of the monasteries. We must keep in mind that Belgium is a next door neighbor to France, famous for wine. Of course wine is typically in the vicinity of 12-13% ABV. The twain were one at various points throughout history. This is where we get the bottle conditioned, naturally carbonated beer that we know of today. Bubbly Champagne…corked and caged, bottle conditioned just like Belgian beer. That’s right, admittedly so, the idea came from France. 

Anyhow, the influence of wine making had a very strong impact on the brewing tradition of Belgium. Just to the east, we have Germany, which had plentiful 3-4% ABV Pils, Hefeweizen, Altbier, etc. All the while, the Germans are perfecting the science which paved the way to make a totally shelf stable 3.2% adjunct happy Pilsner, the Belgae preferred to look to the west and think from a different perspective. That means more in the direction of 8-13% ABV. 

Regardless, in the very early days the monasteries were havens for more than spiritual enlightenment. They were where historical documents and records were kept. Secrets of how to reach true enlightenment…secrets of how to create a palatable 9% Blonde Ale.

Back to the original topic. Tripel is stronger than a Dubbel…Dubbel is stronger than a single. A single Blonde and a single Brune … 

I’m not even going to touch that one.

Tripel’s tend to be in the 8 to 9.5% ABV range. They tend to be to the lighter side in color. They also tend to have a slight presence of spices, usually created by the unique yeast strains used to ferment the beer. 

To myself, the most beautiful thing about a Tripel is that it is a very open style category which leaves an awful lot of creativity in the hands of the brewer. 

Let’s get creative!

Cheers,
 Kevin

Boom Island Brewing Company

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