One of the most anticipated beer releases from Belgium, BROUWERIJ DE HALVE MAAN’S Straffe Hendrik Wild Tripel was received with much fanfare. It took a little over a month once it was officially released to the public, that we found it on the shelves at LIQUOR BARN here in Redding, California. This is a masterfully brewed beer, with unique flavors. Below is our BrewView…
ABOUT BROUWERIJ DE HALVE MAAN
The Halve Maan Brewery is the only family brewery in the center of Bruges that is still active. It is situated in the heart of Bruges and offers visitors daily guided tours of both the modern day brewery and their fascinating museum. The brewery was founded in 1856 by Leon Maes, who is also known as Henry I. Six generations later; it is still run with one goal in mind, to offer superior beer both in quality and in taste while respecting the traditional brewery art. In 2005, the brewery underwent a thorough renovation and modernization. A unique new beer was launched under the name Brugse Zot. In fact, today Brugse Zot is one of the only beers brewed in Bruges’ town center.
In the 1980s when the interest for tradition regional beers increased, Veronique, daughter of Henry IV, Launched a new special blond beer of high fermentation. This unique beer was a bit stronger than other beers which lent to its name of Straffe Hendrik, or Strong Henri. In 1988, the Riva in Bruges took over the beer brand. Straffe Hendrik was brewed by the Riva in Bruges until 2002. In the end of 2008, Straffe Hendrik was brought back into production by Halve Maan Brewery following the original recipe created by the Maes’ family in the 1980s. Today, Straffe Hendrik is the last authentic Tripel Ale of Bruges.
Straffe Hendrik is a bitter Tripel Ale that boasts an impressive nine percent alcohol volume. Bruges Tripels are full bodied with an amber color that comes from the darker roasted malts that are used in the brewing process. This beer also undergoes a longer boiling period and uses more hops than traditional Belgium Tripels, creating a much fuller bodied beer. Straffe Hendrik Wild is a wilder version of Halve Maan Brewery’s Straffe Hendrik with the unique addition of Brett yeast. (Source: Wetten Importers)
OUR BREWVIEW OF STRAFFE HENDRIK WILD TRIPEL
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
9% ABV. Poured into a tulip shaped glass, and served at 40°F. Pours a light to medium golden color. It is bottle conditioned, and of course we poured the yeast sediment into the glass. We knew that it would produce a voluminous head upon pouring, so we poured very gently. Even so, the head easily poured a 3 finger height (we ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). As the head collapses, it leaves behind very dense, even sheeted Brussels lacing in the glass. The head color is white, dense with small and large bubbles, and rocky. After 7-8 minutes, there was still a 1/2″ head remaining… outstanding. The meniscus is medium to slow rising. What’s nice, there is a very delicate “champagne” type of bubbling in the beer.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
It has the fresh, funky, nose. It is reminiscent of a Gueuze type of bouquet, but not quite to that level of intensity. What is unique about the aroma, is that it has a mixture of the classic “bubblegum” Tripel esters, kissed with the Brett funk esters with it. They both compliment each other. This is simply one of the most unique and complex aromas we’ve ever experienced in a beer. It is unlike any other Belgian Tripel available.
De Halve Maan has done a masterful job of mixing (lack of a better term) the classic flavors of their already classic Tripel with the bready, grassy, funkiness of Brett yeast. We’ve tasted other beers from breweries that are experimenting brewing beer styles and then adding a touch of Brettanomyces. So far, this is the BEST example of a “hybrid” Tripel we’ve tasted. The taste is refreshing, cutting edge, innovative. Dry, peppery, it doesn’t have that strong sherry dryness of a Lambic (because it still is a Tripel) but there is the right level of sharpness, tartness, and funk. Perfect balance of Tripel sweetness and Brett sourness.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
The effervescence in this beer is OUTSTANDING. The carbonation level in this beer just fills the entire mouth, and assaults the palate. The funkiness does linger.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Triple cream and blue veined cheeses, Abbey or Trappist cheeses, Charcuterie. ENTRÈES: Moule en Frite, Waterzooi, Paling in ‘t groen, Carbonade flamande, Stoemp. Sushi, Pastas with white cream sauces. DESSERTS: A sabayon made with this beer would be OUTSTANDING… sweet and sour! Lemon-lavender pie, Dutch apple pie, Blueberry bread pudding with custard sauce, Tart Aux Abricots.
DE HALVE MAAN has created a masterpiece and a world classic with their Straffe Hendrik Wild Tripel. From what we have heard, this is a VERY LIMITED release, so pick many bottles up and cellar them while you can! We picked up our bottle at Liquor Barn in Redding, California, and we will most definitely be back for more. This is the most unique Tripel we have ever tried. This is a must have, certainly in our top 100 beers of all time. We liken it to a painting- there is painting by numbers, and then there are masterful works of art- Rembrandt, Monet, Caravaggio, Brueghel, Picasso, Michelangelo, Rubens… you get the idea. This beer is a masterful work of the brewer’s art. It’s one of those beers that puts a smile on your face knowing you have it sitting in your fridge waiting for you to savor at the end of a hard workday. What are you waiting for… go get one now! Enough said.
BROUWERIJ DE HALVE MAAN:
STRAFFE HENDRIK WILD TRIPEL AVAILABLE IN THE USA FROM WETTEN IMPORTERS:
A video from Belgian Beer Sommelier / Bier Passie about Brouwerij De Halve Maan