Food, Beer, and Travel

a dump from the mind of Jon Piper

Tripel Karmeliet (Session 24)

Posted by jwpiper on February 5, 2009

I’m working at a substantial disadvantage here on this my first contribution to the Session. First, I’ve no one to share my tripel with. Ridiculous, you say, and you’re probably right, but the fact remains that my tripel was not shared. I am eager to begin participating in this beer blogging community, so I say psh to the rules. Instead my post will be: Two Tripels on Two Nights in Two Countries Enjoyed by One.

I find myself in this seemingly lonely predicament because I’m on a business trip in Holland and Belgium. Ok, I guess that’s where the “disadvantage” becomes a distinct advantage. Belgium is my hands-down favorite place to travel alone. And while it’s a very sharing culture, circumstances have caused me to drink these beers alone.

So, I turn my attention to the first in my pair of beers: Tripel Karmeliet. My first experience with this beer was at Jan’s house in Belgium. And my thoughts towards tripels have never quite been the same. It’s complex fruity, yeasty, biscuity flavors are what make it so special. Unfortunately, bottles and taps in the US have ranged from bad to decent, but never as good as every bottle I’ve had in or around Belgium which have been spot on delicious. This time, it’s served at 45 degrees at Wildeman Bier Bar in Amsterdam.

Pours a clear golden color with a nice thick white head and plenty of bubbling.
A little bit of sourness – sour apples. Some warm, yeasty, earthy notes, but the sour apples dominate. It’s not acidic, and a little sweet.
This is where this beer shines and what separates what I get in the states (even in its best form) from what this beer is in Belgium (er, Amsterdam). Quite sweet with hints of the apples from the aroma, but there’s a lot more complexity. The sweet honey and bready flavors dominate with the sour applies playing third chair.
Rather carbonated – perhaps a bit too much. It does serve to make the beer a little less serious.
The alcohol is well hidden and the flavor is delicious. It’s touch not to order.
A wonderful beer – certainly one of my favorite tripels, if not my favorite. It’s a shame it doesn’t travel well, the examples I’ve had in the US vary greatly. And nothing is quite like it is fresh in Belgium or surrounds. The one thing I’d change would be to dial back the sweetness just a bit.
€3-3.50/33cl. The normal Belgium price for this in a bar. I’d say it’s worth it, or buy it in a store for closer to €1. It is usually about $9/750ml in my area in Ohio. Get a good example and it’s worth it, a bad example and definitely not.

My second tripel is Westmalle Tripel with 5 years behind it poured at Delerium Cafe in Brussels. My first encounter with this beer I had a substantial case of palate fatigue, but this beer still stood out. Enough to make it something of a ritual whenever I’m in Brussels. Each subsequent time it has been more of a treat. This time there were delicious port aromas and flavors, plenty of estery fruit flavors, balancing bitterness, but also some oxidation. Although this would likely rate in the high 3’s, I won’t rate the beer here since it’s the only one in 6 or so bottles I’ve had with this problem. Actually, it was something of an anti-climactic finish to the 2 on 2 in 2 by 1 session.

4 Responses to “Tripel Karmeliet (Session 24)”

  1. […] Tripel Karmeliet (Session 24) […]

  2. musingmonkey said

    Thanks for the reviews Jon. Sorry the Westmalle was a little oxidized; but as you say, you’ve been able to try it several times.

    I’m enjoying your site – the reviews are a well written and structured, and the photos are great. I find myself yearning for some fine dining just looking over the posts. I look forward to keeping up with it!


  3. jwpiper said


    Thanks for visiting and for the comment. Fortunately I was able to return to Delerium Cafe for another 5 year Westmalle Tripel. This time it was as good as I remembered it. I took notes and the review will be forthcoming.

  4. […] Piper took advantage of a business trip for his post at Food, Beer, and Travel. Jon’s theme was “Two Tripels on Two Nights in Two Countries Enjoyed by One”. He […]

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