image of MacTarnahan's Spine Tingler Upfront courtesy of our Flickr page Seattle, WA – A little while ago while we were running around doing errands, we spotted another beer release from MacTarnahan’s. For those unfamiliar with the Northwest MacTarnahan’s is a brewery lovingly named after Robert Malcolm “Mac” MacTarnahan’s one of parent company Portland Brewing’s first investors. However the brewery as it was is no more, since the merger with Saxer in 2000 and the subsequent purchase at the hands of Pyramid Brewing (now owned by Magic Hat out of S. Burlington, VT). By now you are probably asking, what does this have to with the beer in front of me. In a word, thinking outside the box.

MacTarnahan’s Spine Tingler is another in a (I hope) long series of beers that break outside the norm of what a brewery such as Portland Brewing and MacTarnahan’s should be producing. But instead of turning this into a long drawn out editorial on the brewery let’s discuss the beer and why it does or doesn’t fit the style of Belgian Tripel.

Historically, the word Tripel is often associated with Belgium but it also shares its name from the Netherlands (both historically known as the Low Countries). Some scholars argue that the origin of the style Tripel came from the number of xs (as in X) were on a barrel. If one was on the barrel it meant weakest, two medium and three strongest.

“According to Michael Jackson the first golden strong pale arle which is associated with the term, was brewed by Hendrik Verlinden of the Drie Linden (Three Lindens) brewery in the early 1930s, when ale brewers were looking to compete with the pale lagers from Plzeň” –source

Today many people think of the Trappist style as the true comparison when one has a Tripel (Belgian or Belgian-style). However in either case, the true test of a Tripel is how those who drink it feel. But enough of this history channel stuff, let’s crack the beer open and try it.

image of MacTarnahan's Spine Tingler Uncorked courtesy of our Flickr page Spine Tingler Triple (as it spelled), pours golden (almost pale) without any clarity. Initially the beer pours a strong tapioca head but recedes leaving behind mild amounts of lace.

As the beer is wafted around the nose, one detects orange citrus, a medium spiciness, some floral, mixed with minor banana, and a slight hot alcohol character.

Sipping on this beer you detect a medium alcohol burn, which becomes a temporary memory as citrus lemon zest, and the previously mentioned spiciness. Overall the beer produces a medium body to it with the still lingering presence of the alcohol.

MacTarnahan’s Triple, if you can find it in the stores, is a should try at least once, and if you are feeling a little crazy why not try this with some poultry or cheese. But at 8.50% you should definitely not drink one of these and then start driving down the highway for a bit.

Score: B (worth drinking but don’t go buying a case of it)

Thoughts by your colleagues

About the beer as spoken by the brewery

Malts: Pilsner Malt, Wheat
Hops: Northern Brewer, Perle
Spice: Candied Sugar
Bitternes: 23 IBU
Alcohol By Volume: 8.5%

A surprisingly sublime Belgian-style triple offering an electrifying blend of spicy aromatics balanced with a lively malt palate that is so good it's scary.


About the photos’ author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.

In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.

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