Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tripel Karmeliet and the Other Side of Green Bottles

I am a big supporter of pretty much anything Belgian. With the exception of Stella and a few select mass produced beers, I could randomly choose from the plethora of beers and always come out with a great one. Another great one, see below.

Tripel Karmeliet is in fact, a Tripel style beer. It sits at 8.4% ABV, but you can't even tell. This is one of those "try it yourself" beers, because really, someone could tell you what it tastes like all day and you would still not be able to appreciate how good this beer is. Nonetheless, I will do just that! This is a little funkier than a normal Tripel. It isn't sour, but there is an almost tanginess to the beer that makes it just a little different than other Tripels. Other than the funk, it is basically just your run of the mill, world class Tripel. It has some fruity notes that come about from the yeast and the carbonation is not quite champagne-like. The firm malt backbone is supported by a blend of esters and ends crisp and dry with a hint of spice. Ok, now I'll back off the intense flavor discussion and head on to bashing worse beer.

There was an extended period of time where I didn't want to touch anything that came in a green bottle. You know the type, Heineken, Stella, Carlsburg(outside of Denmark). The main reason for this is that green bottles do not protect the beer nearly as well as brown bottles. The additional visible and UV light that is let into the bottle breaks down the alpha acids that are imparted by the hops. This reacts with sulfur to give the beer that skunky smell. Now, in very light, otherwise flavorless beers, this skunky smell can overwhelm the drinker. The beer no longer tastes good. However, the Belgians are really good at making beer. The skunkiness plays a much smaller role in these flavorful beers. I am also a strong supporter of the idea that the skunk mixes well with funk to enhance the flavor of the funkier beers. This is why Karmeliet and Saison Dupont are, in my opinion, better out of bottles, rather than on tap. 

To sum up, if you really, and I mean REALLY trust the brewery, then go for the green bottle. If they care enough about the beer, they will have put in the time to determine that the green bottle will not aversely affect the flavor of their creation. Others (cough Heineken cough), probably just use the green as a marketing technique (it goes back to a shortage of brown glass during WWII). You can trust Karmeliet. I will personally vouch for them. 

Glassware: Tulip, Goblet, Snifter

Synonym Beer: St. Bernardus Tripel

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