TRIPEL KARMELIET is another one of those classic Belgian beers that was way overdue for a BrewView. (We reviewed their DeuS back on March 10, 2014- click here to read that BrewView.) Here in Redding, California, the availability of Belgian beers is somewhat limited, but that is slowly improving. We consistently talk to our local retailers here to stock a wider variety of Belgian beers- since as you all know, their popularity is increasing at a very fast pace in the United States, and all over the globe. That being said, when we found Tripel Karmeliet on the shelves at our local Liquor Barn recently, we jumped at the chance to BrewView this world classic! As we recall, the first time we enjoyed this beer was back in January 2000, and found it to be worthy of being named as one the world’s great beers. Read our BrewView below and see why…
ABOUT BROUWERIJ BOSTEELS
Brouwerij Bosteels has 223 years of family history- that’s longer than Belgium itself has been a “state”. (Belgium did not become a state until the end of the Belgian Revolution in 1830.) 39 years earlier in 1791, Evarist Bosteels established the brewery in Buggenhout. The lineage continued with Jozef, who bore 3 sons: Frans, Martin, and Lodewijk- of the three sons, the first two learned the brewing trade. Leon Bosteels, (son of Martin) took over the operations of the brewery, and then Antoine Bosteels (son of Leon) followed in his footsteps in 1938.
Up until 1988, Antoine grew the brewery with Bosteels Pils and began to introduce the beers to a wider audience in Belgium, selling it to consumers in Ghent, Antwerp, and Brussels. Local politics was also in the mix for the Bosteels family: Frans was the mayor of Buggenhout for 13 years, And Antoine was elected mayor 3 different times.
THE BREWER’S MANSION
The beautiful Bosteels family mansion (above) was designed in 1859 by Flemish architect Louis Minard (1801-1875). Minard was best known for his classical designs, which the mansion is a beautiful example of. With its stunning leaded glass windows and its beautiful reception room, the mansion takes you back to a time where horse and carriage would take you to your formal destination.
6TH AND 7TH GENERATIONS
Ivo Bosteels (R) (6th generation) and Antoine Bosteels- Ivo’s son (L) (7th generation) are currently managing the day-to-day operations. They ensure that the over 200 years of brewing traditions are kept intact. Quality control is very important to Ivo and Antoine. Everything about the brewing process is carefully monitored.
Tripel Karmeliet is still brewed to an authentic beer recipe from 1679 originating in the former Carmelite monastery in Dendermonde. Written over 300 years ago, this recipe describes the use of three kinds of grain: wheat, oats, and barley. The name Tripel Karmeliet thus refers both to its origin and its in-bottle refermentation. From many trial brews of multi-grain Tripels carried out at Brouwerij Bosteels in the 90’s, it appears that the particular historic combination of the three kinds of grain still remains the ideal blend. (Source: Brouwerij Bosteels)
BEER STYLE AND COMMERICAL DESCRIPTION FROM ARTISANAL IMPORTS
Style category: Belgian Tripel
From the elegant, distinctive glassware to its shimmering golden hue Tripel Karmeliet is a beer that finds a place at every beer lovers table. Novices are drawn to it’s subtle maltiness and accessibility while experienced beer enthusiasts find layer upon layer of fully-realized flavor, depth and complexity.
Brewed with three grains (oats, wheat and barley) and moderately hopped, Tripel Karmeliet is slightly sweet, malty and spicy on the palate, with tones of coriander and white pepper. On the nose it’s coriander and a very mild hop resin note mingling with full, fruity nose that fades to a beautiful honeyish aroma.
Since 1791, the Bosteels family has owned and operated a brewery in Buggenhout, Belgium. Their flagship and multi-award winning beer is Tripel Karmeliet.
GOLD MEDAL – World Beer Championships (Chicago, USA) 1998
GOLD MEDAL – World Beer Cup (USA) 1998
SILVER MEDAL – World Beer Cup (USA) 2002
“EXCEPTIONAL” MEDAL – Beverage Tasting Institute (USA) 2000
GOLD MEDAL – European Beer Star (Germany) 2005
“WORLD’S BEST ALE”- World Beer Awards (WBA London) 2008
OUR BREWVIEW OF BROUWERIJ BOSTEELS TRIPEL KARMELIET
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
8.4% ABV. Poured into a tulip shaped glass, and served at 45°F. Pours a light golden-straw color. It is bottle conditioned, and of course we poured the yeast sediment into the glass. The head easily poured a 3 finger height (we ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). It pours a white, rocky, very dense whipped egg-white thickness with large and small bubbles and is very well sustained- excellent sign. As the head collapses, there is dense thick Brussels lacing in the glass. After 5-6 minutes, there was still a 1/2″ head remaining. The meniscus is medium to slow rising.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
It has that classic bubblegum ester, fruity, peaches, citrus (orange & grapefruit), hints of vanilla, very fresh Belgian yeast aroma, and gentle hop aroma.
There is a perfect balance of malt sweetness, spicy phenols. Lemons, oranges, with a delicate hop bitterness.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
There is a wonderful creaminess that just fills the entire mouth upon tasting, and yet at the same time a citrusy dryness. Medium bodied, and refreshing. It does have a prickly, medium carbonation level to it. The dryness lingers.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS
Light salads with a nice vinaigrette, triple cream cheeses, blue veined cheeses, charcuterie. White bean Hummus with fresh cut slices of cucumber and zuccinini.
Moule en Frite for sure, roasted chicken, pork tenderloin, sushi, Mexican cuisine would pair well because of the spiciness of the beer. Pastas in white cream sauces. Pizzas in white sauces and fresh veggies.
Try a fresh fruit platter of white table grapes, slices of pineapple, and peaches. Key lime pie or lemon meringue pie would be awesome.
Beautifully made beer at world class level. This beer is in our top 50 beers of all time. This is a must have. We picked up our bottle at Liquor Barn in Redding, California, at a great price.
Seek this one out for sure. In our opinion, not many Tripels are made at this masterful level. The corked (painted label) version is even better.
2016 BREWVIEW UPDATE: On September 8, 2016, many industry websites and magazines published the fact that InBev purchased Brouwerij Bosteels for $225 million. We have mixed feelings about this. Only time will tell if the product quality changes or not.
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