Catawba’s Belgian Tripel was inspired by the strong golden ales brewed by the Trappist monks of Flanders and Wallonia. The style is the newest addition to the abbey ale trinity (Dubbel, Tripel, Quadruple), having first appeared at Westmalle Abbey in the 1930s. It was said to be Belgium’s response to the growing popularity of pale colored beers in Europe. However, unlike the prevailing light lagers of the time, the Belgian Tripel utilizes a unique yeast strain, and roughly three times the malt of a standard “Single” – hence the name. The result is a style that helped elevate Belgian beer to a pinnacle once reserved only for the best wines of France or Italy.
True to style, Catawba’s Belgian Tripel (9.5% ABV) is innocently yellow in color, deceptively light in body, and bursting with fruity yeast esters and spicy phenols – and a hint of warming alcohol. It was fermented with La Chouffe ale yeast, and features additions of Belgian candi sugar and golden raisins. Flavor descriptors include apple, pear, lemon, banana, clove, peppery spice, and noble hop earthiness – all combining for a culinary-quality complexity.
Brewed in their Asheville South Slope brewhouse, this is Passport Beer #5 in Catawba’s 2017 Small Batch rewards program, available in their three tasting rooms and in limited distribution.