(Seattle, WA) First off in the interest of being upfront and honest, I am not registered nor am I certified under BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program). With that said I can say that I have been around the block long enough to know that difference between a belgian / belgian-style Tripel versus a similar tasting ale.
Today I chose as a restart to my tastings a limited release Tripel from none other than Redhook in Woodinville, Washington.
Redhook Tripel Press Release
“Redhook Ale Brewery Introduces New Craft Beer Based on Traditional Trappist Brewing Methods”
“Crafted with imported Belgian candy sugar, high quality European malts and a secret monastery yeast strain, the new Tripel Belgian-style ale from Redhook Ale Brewery will hit shelves for a limited time this summer.”
“The limited release series is a lot of fun for us. On the heels of Double Black Stout, we experimented with this Tripel and brewed it in small batches, perfecting and balancing the strong flavors,” said Greg Deuhs, masterbrewer for Redhook Ale Brewery. “We stayed as close as possible to the Trappist methods pioneered by monks hundreds of years ago.”
“The Redhook Tripel will be available in 22 oz. bottles (SRP $7.99) and on draught in western states in late May, with limited national availability following in late June. The Tripel will be on shelves at specialty food stores and beer markets through September, or until supplies run out. Redhook will introduce another limited release in the fall.”
I purchased this bottle from a grocer in Seattle and the first thing that struck me was the almost brown & opaque bottle along with the combination silkscreen and sticker enameled label with the large letters "Limited Release" stretching around the bottle like a sort of insistent ticker. Although I have no true Redhook Tripel glassware (see picture above) I do still have some twelve ounce Sierra Nevada tulip glasses around.
Pouring in a downward motion from the bottle (at a near ninety degree angle) I first notice a strong tapioca colored head is produced as the beer inches its way from up from inside the glass. The tripel although pouring a strong head at first eventually recedes leaving faint whispers of lace along the inside of the glass. Peering at the beer through the glass with the light of a hundred watt bulb as a background I see a light copper color that is muted by the initial haziness that gives way to strong clarity as the beer warms up.
Swirling this beer around and placing this up to my nose I detect the familiar Belgian / Belgian-style floral that is a characteristic when using a yeast strain that thrives in the open. Noticeable spiciness, along with some minor clove and banana, mixed with a dash of citrus and vanilla adds to the finish.
After a slight swishing around in my mouth I detect mild pepper & spicy alcohol along with some lemon esters that slide down the throat leaving behind a slight phenolic (resin) and medium almost light mouthfeel.
The Redhook Belgian-style Tripel is an interesting entry by the folks who helped start the Washington craft beer movement. I look forward to trying this on draft to see how this compares to my initial impressions. A special note should be made in that this beer pours without appearance of much lace and therefore I would classify this beer as a “possibility” to those curious in cellaring.
Redhook Ales Brewery
14300 N.E. 145th Street Woodinville, WA 98072 (425) 483-3232
Belgian Tripel (sourced, Wikipedia)