Tongerlo Prior Tripel (9%, 33 cl)

The Tongerlo beers are brewed by brewery Haacht, and they are doing so since 1990 (when they got the rights to this Abbey beer). I’m sad to report that a few years ago, brewery Haacht, in all its infinite wisdom, have decided to delete Tongerlo Tripel. That’s a sad thing since I really liked that one. To make up for it, they replaced it with another Tripel. It’s called Tongerlo Prior Tripel and the golden-yellow label is replaced by a brooding black one. Tongerlo Prior Tripel is made with Saaz hops and, compared with the old Tripel ,a new kind of yeast. They also upped the ABV from 8% to 9%. This beer is fermented (additionally in the bottle) and the brewery advises to pour the yeast depot in your glass for a bigger and bolder flavor, but it’s also possible to leave the depot in the bottle with a small amount of beer to be consumed separately. Advised drinking temperature is 7º C.

Even this new Tripel got the chance to age for 2,5 years after it’s best before date. You may think I’m mad, but with most Belgian beers it only adds to the character, don’t worry you, won’t get sick. Breweries are obliged to put a short-term on the label, but are starting to add the bottling date. Frank Boon decided to stretch the best before date far beyond the standard three years and easily puts best before dates twenty years into the future!

Tongerlo Prior TripelColor: Orange yellow with some flakes (due to ageing). Almost white foam.

Nose: Fresh and half-yeasty. Citrus acidity. Warm lemon curd. Linen and again some yeast. Pretty straightforward.

Taste: Estery and half bitter. Orange peel. The whole is quite warming. The whole taste seems a bit toned down, but when taken in a big gulp, it becomes quite chewy and gains a lot of character. An explosion of flavor so to speak. Nice, and not overly acidic. Lemon and oranges. Very fresh at first, but that fades into a heavy, syrupy sweetness. I would call this a winter warmer. Excellent stuff by the way.

I love tripels and this one (again) fits the bill. Compared to Westmalle Tripel this has less of the orange skins and definitely is less bitter. Candied sugar sweetness. I really don’t get the point why the Original tripel was replaced with this one. Although this one is also very nice, the original tripel was (very) different and could have easily kept its place under the stars. The original Tripel was quite fresh and appealing, this Prior is more warming en deeper. It’s like night and day, like summer and winter. They got the labels right too, summery yellow and deep as night black…

Points: 85

Tongerlo Tripel (8%, 33 cl)

The last reviewed beer, Westmalle, was a Trappist beer. This Tongerlo is an example of an ‘Abdijbier’ or Abbey beer. Thus linked to a monastery, yet commercially brewed by Haacht. So no Authentic Trappist Product then, but still a beer in the same style. But hey, this beer has an official hallmark too. It’s a “recognized Belgian abbey beer”.

It turns out this hallmark is issued by the union of Belgian brewers and it seems there are some rules. The hallmark was issued for the first time in 1999 and the rules are slightly different for Abbey beers from before that time, and those that applied afterwards. Some rules are pretty obvious. There are more rules but here are a few: There has to be a link with an Abbey. Part of the proceeds must go to this Abbey and the beer has to be brewed there before (history taken in to account). In this case we are talking about the “Norbertijnen abdij” from 1133! Well my kind of marketing I guess.

Before we move on I (again) have to say that my beer is aged a little and has a best before date of 27/5/10. But this bottle can lie in your cellar much longer.

Color: Clowdy gold.

Nose: Fresh, lemons and oranges. Sour fresh. Not a lot of depot, only some hints of yeast. Still this has undergone a third fermentation stage inside the bottle.

Taste: Oranges and medium bitter. Despite the elevated bitterness also a very nice and fresh and sour note, that makes this extremely drinkable. Appetizingly fruity and it doesn’t even seem to be 8% ABV. Slightly sweet with hints of banana.

A very good beer. I like it a lot. Extremely drinkable Tripel with a very good balance. I would like to have another one please?

Points: 87