You know that feeling when you bite into or drink something so good your face is inexorably plastered with some goof-ball expression of pleasure? You’ll see this often in commercials for soup or yogurt. Someone spoons in a bite, the camera pans in, and the expression on their face is as if Saint Peter just handed them their personal pass to heaven.
Of course, we’re talking television here, and everyone knows commercials are 30 second sound bites of pontification and exaggeration. Still, very occasionally, you’ll try something and find yourself inadvertently taken by one of those uncontrollable moments of bliss. I’m talking about trying Duvel Tripel Hop.
Many beer drinkers are already familiar with the name Duvel, as it’s one of the most popular Belgian beers, both in America and throughout Europe. Regular Duvel is a treat unto itself, around 9 % ABV, with champagne-like carbonation, sweet and tart fruit flavors, and a superbly crisp finish. The Tripel Hop doesn’t stray too far from this template, though there are a few notable differences. While regular Duvel is a Belgian golden beer, the Tripel Hop is classified as a Belgian IPA. IPAs, as we’ve learned, are known for their hops, which tend to imbue beer with bitterness and tartness. In this case, the term “tripel” primarily references the three distinct varieties of hops that were used to brew this beer. On a secondary level, tripel also references the strength of the beer itself. Often times, Belgian brewers will classify their beers according to the strength of their ABV. Ales that fall between 7 – 9 % ABV tend to be called “Dubbels”, while those exceeding 9 % are called “Tripels”. Since this beer has three types of hops AND clocks in at 9.5 % ABV, it’s a Tripel Hop! Pretty clever, no?
Let’s get to the beer itself. The beer pours a beautiful hazy golden color, with a large foamy white head that diminishes fairly slowly into lacing. You should notice a stream of carbonation bubbles rising continuously from the bottom to the top of the glass. Breathe in sweet aromas of yeast and fruits like banana, pear, apple, and lemon. There’s also a tinge of spice that mingles with floral, hoppy notes. Take your first sip and right away you’ll be hit with sweet flavors comparable to the aromas, with the notable exception that you’ll detect strong undercurrents of earthy, tangy hops. This beer is bittersweet in the best possible way. The mouthfeel is delightful as well, reminiscent of champagne, or even a great cream soda. Its finish is crisp and smooth, with a sweetness that gives way to tart hoppy flavors that linger on the palate.
Overall, this is an exemplary Belgian IPAs by one of Europe’s best breweries, and well worth its price tag. A perfect beer for sharing with a friend or date, come down to the Little Pub and try one while we gots ‘em!