This Super Sunday Night Suds looks at a limited edition super beer - Redhook Tripel.
Periodically I receive email from people inquiring about the kashruth of Belgian beer. Unfortunately, I have little information about the Belgians as the kashruth organizations there do not have a significant Internet presence. I have had some limited contact with the Belgian kashruth authorities, but the only answers that I have received to my questions about which beers the Jews of Belgium drink is that they only drink unflavored beers.
This brings me to my most recent beer email. A few weeks ago I received an email asking about kosher tripels. While this is a Belgian style, there are quite a few tripels that are brewed domestically. I did a little digging and was able to find two tripels which are under kosher supervision - one by New Belgium of Fort Collins, Colorado and the other by Redhook of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Woodinville, Washington.
Since I knew that the New Belgium beers are not available in the Northeast, I decided to try for the Redhook. I tried some of the better local beer stores, but none of them carry it. I then emailed the brewery, but they were unable to identify any stores in the New York area which carry the Tripel. Instead, they suggested that I contact the beer distributors and see who they sell the Tripel. I have tried this in the past with very limited success.
Fast forward to yeshiva vacation week. We took the kids for two days to the Fitchburg, Massachusetts area. While at the hotel I checked BA and saw that there was a well regarded beer store nearby (Kappy's) so I swung by and saw some high end kosher brews including the Redhook Tripel. At $8 a bottle it was expensive for a brew, but I picked one up and saved it for this shabbos.
So what is a tripel? As defined by BA:
The name "Tripel" actually stems from part of the brewing process, in which brewers use up to three times the amount of malt than a standard Trappist "Simple." Traditionally, Tripels are bright yellow to gold in color, which is a shade or two darker than the average Pilsener. Head should be big, dense and creamy. Aroma and flavor runs along complex, spicy phenolic, powdery yeast, fruity/estery with a sweet finish. Sweetness comes from both the pale malts and the higher alcohol. Bitterness is up there for a beer with such a light body for its strength, but at times is barely perceived amongst the even balance of malts and hops. The lighter body comes from the use of Belgian candy sugar (up to 25% sucrose), which not only lightens the body, but also adds complex alcoholic aromas and flavors. Small amounts of spices are sometimes added as well. Tripels are actually notoriously alcoholic, yet the best crafted ones hide this character quite evil-like and deceivingly, making them sipping beers.
The Redhook Tripel had a higher end alcohol content (10.2% abv) and since it comes in a 22 oz bottle, it could pack quite a kick. I shared it with Mrs Kosher Beers and a few friends at shabbos lunch and solicited their opinions. Mrs Kosher Beers said that it was a little strong for her taste. Eli B thought that it had a nice amount of hops. I was struck by the strong cloves and vanilla flavors. I would not call it a sipping beer, but I could not see drinking a few of these at a sitting.
Redhook Tripel is under the kashruth supervision of the Orthodox Union. For the experts' take on the Tripel, please click here http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/18134/48411.
As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.
If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).
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