Maredsous Abbaye Tripel
By Bill Lau | A Potable Pastime
10% ABV, abbey tripel brewed in the Benedictine tradition; bottle conditioned
Abbaye de Maredsous, Denée, Belgium – brewed & bottled by Duvel Moortgat, Puurs, Belgium
Today I’m continuing my exploration of Belgian tripels with this offering from the Abbey of Maredsous. One of the things that impresses me about the style is the drinkability brewers can achieve in a beer often pushing the 9-10% ABV range. This is where one learns to appreciate the skillful use of adjunct sugars. (Adjuncts – for those unfamiliar – were something frowned upon in the early days of the craft beer revolution, when the “all-malt” moniker spoke to the quality and cost of ingredients, as compared to the common use of corn or rice so prevalent in mainstream American lagers. But adjuncts don’t have to be a negative; it really all comes down to how and why such ingredients are employed.)
All-malt beers reaching this level of alcohol content are by nature heavier on the palate and much more filling (think barleywine or imperial anything); a well-made tripel manages to deliver a lighter body and a surprising level of quaffability by employing a portion of brewing sugar to boost the alcohol without detracting from the flavor profile of the beer.
Another thing I admire about tripels is the dense, tightly-knit head, typically sustained all the way to the bottom of the glass. It’s a thing of beauty, and I have to think bottle conditioning may be a factor. Most tripels are refermented in the bottle, just like most homebrew – the yeast is not filtered out (or a fresh dose of yeast added at bottling time) and additional sugar added for a final small fermentation. Since the bottles are capped (or corked as the case may be), the carbon dioxide generated during this fermentation remains in the beer, providing the carbonation. I also find that bottle conditioned beers produce a finer carbonation bead (i.e. smaller bubbles) than force-carbonated beers. And this, I believe, helps produce the creamy, thick foam riding atop the beer.
All that said, let’s see how this brew stands up to my expectations.
My bottle dated best before 07/2017.
Appearance (5/5): Glows with brilliant old gold touched by amber; capped with a densely thick off-white foam. Beautiful!
Aroma (7/10): Bready & yeasty overture reaches my nose, bringing with it hints of spice (coriander, suggestions of cardamom & peppercorn) and earthiness.
Palate (5/5): Rich, creamy texture from that luxurious head, with a very fine carbonation and medium body.
Taste (8/10): Prominent yeasty character up front with citrusy fruitiness, followed by a tangy, sourish, zippy and mildly astringent middle, then leading into an earthy finish. There’s a lot of flavor just under the surface of this one. Another strong recommendation to not serve overly chilled, or you’ll miss out on that complexity.
Overall (16.7/20): Plenty of yeasty goodness in this one! A more rustic interpretation of the style, well suited to both sipping or serving alongside some lighter fare, like grilled chicken breast or a brothy seafood or pasta dish.
Disclosure: The author has received no reimbursement or compensation for this article. All opinions and remarks are those of the author alone.