My good friend of “I think about beer” did a review of Westmalle Tripel recently, and I thought, I have that one too! Please check out his blog, it’s very well written, with a lot of passion for beer. It features tasting notes like mine but especially the in-depth stories are fantastic.
As with a lot of beers, I like to age them a little, and this beer’s no exception. I guess mine was aged for 4 years (best before date 30/07/10), but it is recommended to leave Westmalle alone for at least 5 to 10 years!
Westmalle is one of six Belgian breweries that are ‘protected’ by the Authentic Trappist Product logo. Achel, Orval, Chimay, Rochefort and Westvleteren are the others. The logo was presented to discern the trappist beers from the more and more widely available ‘abdij beers’ of Belgium and other countries. (Abdij = Monastery). Most of those beers aren’t even brewed near a monastery, but commercially brewed under a licence. Still, it’s the same style of beers. Usually with a blond beer at normal strength, a dark “Dubbel” and a heavy blond “Tripel”. occasionally a very heavy “Quadrupel” exists.
It is not only beer that falls under this logo, and not only Belgian beer to boot. Here is a list of all products that fall under this logo.
- Trappist Beer from Achel in Belgium
- Trappist Beer and Trappist Cheese from Orval in Belgium
- Trappist Beer and Trappist Cheese from Scourmont-Lez-Chimay in Belgium
- Trappist Beer from Rochefort in Belgium
- Trappist Beer and Trappist Cheese from Westmalle in Belgium
- Trappist Beer from Westvleteren in Belgium
- Trappist Beer, bread, biscuits and chocolates from Koningshoeven in Tilburg, the Netherlands
- Trappist Liqueurs from Echt-Tegelen in the Netherlands
- Trappist Liqueurs from Stift Engelszell in Austria
- Trappist Cheese from Mont des Cats in France
Info is from The International Trappist Association site, have a look here for more information.
Westmalle comes in 33 cl and 75 cl bottles. There is a selection made and the best output is bottled in the big bottles. Being already the best of the best it is further ‘bettered’ in the big bottle due to a better beer to air ratio. Thicker glass so less influence of light and foremost, more contact between the beer and the yeast that’s in the bottle. The third fermentation stage takes place inside the bottle. Add to this the ageing potential and you could end up with a fabulous beer! Now back to our little, slightly aged bottle.
Color: Murky Gold. Almost no yeast depot. Old fashioned yellow-orange. One centimetre of white foam. I tasted this beer in its original chalice.
Nose: Fresh, citrus, both lemon and orange peel and yeast.
Taste: Alcohol, quite bitter too. Refreshing. Creamy foam with half-sweet orange skin infusion. fantastic balance and a beautiful texture. Warming.
Nothing for the novice. The bitterness is quite a bit of the character. Beware because ageing makes this beer less fruity and more deep and bitter. The label, the bottle, the iconic WA-logo, the smell of it all. It breathes a time long forgotten, pré WW I. You consider yourself back in the thirties. A high score, but not necessarily your easy, every day choice. This is a classic.