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Monday, April 02, 2012

Deep Thought: Tripels and Double IPAs Are First Cousins

This is an odd connection to make, but since I've recently examined both abbey ales and American strong ales in my other project, I couldn't help notice how close they are in construction. Consider:
  • Both use pale malts and sugar to achieve a light body, great strength, and high attenuation;
  • Both downplay or eschew caramel malts to create a more candy-like sweet base;
  • Both highlight hops, though of course, in tripels the balance point is in a far different place.

The goals are a little different, but not entirely. In terms of the kind of experience they're meant to produce--a reflective, special treat--they have something in common. I had a Westmalle Tripel on Friday to remind myself just how hoppy it is. Perhaps this is a personal thing, but if I had bottles of Pliny the Elder, Westmalle Tripel, a stout, a pale ale, a pilsner, and a lambic in the fridge, when I got in the mood for it, I would have a hard time deciding between the Pliny and Westmalle. They scratch the same itch.

Your thoughts?


  1. Tripels are the hipsters of extreme beer. They were extreme before extreme was cool.

  2. INteresting thoughts, what about the high abv US Belgian IPAs?

  3. Ghost, yes, that's a further blending of styles. For me, the overlapping elements are sugar and hops more than Belgian yeast--though that's a factor. Westmalle ferments pretty cool, though, and their Tripel doesn't pop the esters the way some do.

  4. I can dig it. I don't quite agree with the tripels being hoppy. But hey, maybe we are drinking different tripels. I like the Maredsous tripel, and chimay cing cents. I've only had one westmalle tripel and I can't remember how hoppy it was.

    Good to see you blogging again. Cheers.