Santpoorts Bier – Blonde Tripel (8.5%, 33 cl)

Santpoorts Bier logoSantpoorts Bier is a very locally brewed and sold beer. It is made in Hillegom by Brewery “Klein Duimpje” (Tom Thumb) and made for the “community” of Santpoort (near Haarlem in The Netherlands). With the proceeds the instigators hope to fund their own brewery in Santpoort (2020). This first Santpoorts beer is called a Blond Tripel and boasts a hefty 8.5% ABV. Blond as in blonde or a lightly (colored) beer, and Tripel after the Belgian Abbey and Trappist beers. Looking at the list of ingredients: Pilsner malt, Carapilsner malt, Munich malt, wheat malt, Challenger hops, Saaz hops and yeast. It doesn’t seem to be a Belgian Style Tripel, since a lot of typical Pilsner malts are used, so somehow I’m expecting a more Pilsner style Beer that is higher in alcohol.

The beer I’ll be reviewing here is from the first batch (best before date: July 2014, I aged it a little). By now, a second batch has been released called ‘Reprise’ (orange label again) as well as a winter beer (blue label) and a just released Spelt Weizen Beer (green label), that isn’t even on their website yet!

Santpoorts BierColor: Lively, yellow, almost orange gold. Murky, with a lot of yeast deposit. A lot of ivory foam.

Nose: Fresh and spicy, fruity (banana and peach without the sweetness). Very appetizing. A city after the rain and a distinct hint of warm plastic. The beer starts out fresh, lively and fruity, but quickly turns into something more broody. Can’t quite put my finger on it. Pretty “dirty” if you ask me. Fresh egg-white and new wood. Whiffs of cold dishwater. A very unusual nose. After half a year of ageing the nose didn’t change much (I’ve tried this beer when it was just released).

Taste: Dark, and a nice hoppy bitterness which almost seems woody. Pretty fruity, hot butter and has a lot of fresh (baker’s) yeast and a note of polyester. This polyester component is also easily recognizable in Hoegaarden White. Polyester is a maybe bad word here, but I’m using it for lack of a better word. Santpoorts Bier isn’t warming so it seems a lot lower in alcohol. This beer is advised to drink at 10 degrees Centigrade, but I like it better, when its colder. It finishes a bit like a Pilsener does, with its typical acidity, but the perfect bitterness this beer has, does a lot for balance. When freshly brewed, it was said to be nice already, and doesn’t need a lot of ageing. I tried it a few times and not a lot happened in half a year. The beer seems young (easily recognizable in the yeast taste, it has a lot of fresh yeast notes, ánd a lot of yeast in the deposit), but most definitely has it’s potential.

I’ve opened a lot of bottles of this to have people taste this and it is a very vigorous beer. You can’t Always open it without spilling some (and in some cases, a lot). In the glass the little yeast balls are moving around very quickly, like a speeded up lava lamp. Quite a stunning view. The beer is very lively!

Conclusion. To me, this first batch seems to be somewhat of a work in progress. It does have its charm, but it isn’t perfect yet. Overall I like the beer, but I didn’t care that much for the polyester notes and the “Pilsener” finish, but the start and the body (the middle part) are already quite good, as is the perfect bitterness of this beer.  The brewers are on the right road, but in my humble opinion, some more work has to be done. By now a second batch has been produced, called ‘Reprise’ which I haven’t tried yet.

Points: 74

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

Westmalle Tripel (9.5%, 33 cl)

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.

Points: 88

Corsendonk Agnus – Tripel (7.5%, 33 cl)

Let’s try another Tripel. Yesterday I was a bit harsh for a beer from one of my favorite categories, The Tripel. So let’s try another Tripel, but this time from Corsendonk. Corsendonk Agnus – Tripel ís an Abbey beer. The Abbey brewed beer themselves in the 17th century. Today the Corsendonk beers are brewed under license elsewhere. The Agnus is brewed by Du Bocq in Purnode Belgium.

As you know life is hard. For this review I had to drink three bottles of the Corsendonk Agnus. I bought a couple of bottles a long time ago that were brewed in august 2006. I tried one of those earlier when it was around three years old, and this time I’m trying two, of the same batch, that are now six years old. Yes you can drink Tripels well past their dont-drink-or-you’ll-die-of-food-poisoning-date. Finally I also bought a new one that was brewed in february 2012. Following notes are for the aged ones:

Color: Orange. Gold with Copper

Nose: Fresh and refreshing. Peaches and lemons. Apricots, very fruity and estery. Lateron spicy and very balanced. Yeast and somewhat perfumed.

Taste: Fruity. Slightly bitter and hoppy. Velvety texture, very smooth. Very drinkable! Elegant, warming alcohol with peels from orange and red grapefruit.

The new bottle was full gold with nice cream foam. A lot of bubbles are surfacing, and no yeast visible. It’s fresher and more appetizing. Fruits are more in the range of apples, lemons, and hints of orange skin, than the estery peach and apricots in the aged bottles. Obviously the new one is far less complex and ‘lighter’ in style. Typical ‘beer’ finish, and aftertaste. Too young!

Well first of all, after the prolonged ageing period, the beer turned a lot darker, than the same batch at a younger age. Originally it was radiant gold, now it turned a lot more copper. The meaty part on the nose disappeared, but it gained a lot of fruity esters. With this it gained a lot of complexity. The three-year old one was more refreshing (more lemon), but this still is refreshing. It gained more depth, but it didn’t even change that much, tastewise. It is easily recognizable as a Corsendonk Tripel. Personally, I find six years of ageing a bit too long. I think it is at it’s best, around three years old. The new batch was, in comparison, very light and really easy to drink, with an aftertaste you only know of your standard beers. After seeing it’s potential I would recommend ageing your bottles for three years. But if you’re interested, longer can be quite fun too. Drinking this right after you bought it is a waste of your money. Put it in your cellar and be patient!

Points: 83

P.S. The cheese from Corsendonk is lovely too!

Petrus Gouden Tripel (7.5%, 33 cl)

After the fabulous Aged Pale, lets see if this Golden Tripel is any good. Personally I like Tripels a lot, so I have good hopes for this. What’s a “Tripel”? Well fermentation takes place in three stages. Main fermentation and second fermentation we all know, and the third stage is fermentation in the bottle. Tripel, means three, but there are a lot more explanations for the word.

So there you have it. Tripels are usually part of the Abbey and Trappist beers. Petrus is brewed by Bavik in Bavikhove Belgium. Bavik started out in 1894. Even though the range is named after Saint Peter, Bavik isn’t an Abbey or even a Trappist beer. This Tripel is just made in an Abbey style. It also isn’t a coincidence that this Tripel is reminiscent of the heavy blond ales like Duvel, because it once was one of those (Cuvée de St. Armand).

Color: Beautiful gold, like a nectar of the gods.

Nose: Fresh. Typical Tripel. High in alcohol, warming. Citrussy and malty, but that’s it, there isn’t any more.

Taste: Fresh and citrussy as in lemons and limes. Yeast and a slightly bitter and drying finish. But again not very complex.

It’s all right. An example of a typical Tripel. I prefer other Tripels, which will be reviewed eventually. After the Pale Ale this is a bit disappointing. Maybe I had too high expectations for this? It reminds me a bit of a Duvel, but Duvel is better (for me). Don’t get me wrong, this still is a pretty decent beer, but for me it doesn’t add anything to the world of the Tripel. Actually, maybe this isn’t even an Abbey-style Tripel. But a heavy Blond Ale with a third fermentation in the bottle (which a lot of people call a Tripel). It just has to decide which one of the two it really is.

Points: 77