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Triple your beer-drinking pleasure with Belgian Tripels

brewing-beer-medieval-lifeIf it weren’t for monks, many of the classic beer styles we now enjoy may not have been developed. In particular, Belgian monks from the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, a Roman Catholic contemplative order that believes monasteries should be self-sustaining. Because of this, monks took up many trades, brewing highly-coveted beer was among them.

A favorite style produced by monks – the tripel – was developed relatively recently at the Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle or Westmalle Brewery in 1934. As a style, tripels are golden in color with aromas and flavors of apple, pear, citrus, or banana-like fruitiness, clove-like or peppery spice. Other characteristics of the style are its high alcohol (7-percent to 10-percent by volume) and its dry finish.

As early as the 6th century, monks were brewing beer. The story of the brewery at Westmalle Abbey begins in 1836 when monks began brewing beer at the Abbey. At that time, the beer was not intended to produce a profit, instead it was to be used only for the refreshment of the monks and their guests. Later, in 1856, the Abbey began selling a small portion of the beer to villagers at the gates to the monastery.

As demand grew the Abbey did, too. Expansions were undertaken in both 1865 and 1897. In those early years, the brewery produced mostly dark beers. Westmalle was best known for its dubbel, a strong dark ale that developed flavor by boiling the wort for eight to ten hours. The long boil was thought to develop the deep color and complex flavors.

Demand continues to rise and, in 1921, the Abbey decided to sell their beer to outside resellers. This necessitated another expansion that included that construction of a dedicated yeast room and a workshop. When completed in 1934, the new additions are celebrated by the introduction of a new style of beer; the tripel.

Because the palates of Belgians at that time were more attuned to darker, richer ales, the release of the golden-hued tripel was considered a radical move by a group that was known to be overwhelmingly traditional. But, as drinkers began tasting the fruity, high-alcohol brew, demand began to grow. For the next 20 years, the monks tinkered with the recipe until 1954 when Brother Thomas Sas dialed the formula in and created the tripel we know today.

So, important was it to the monks that the character of the tripel remain intact they instructed Jan Adriaensens, who has overseen brewing at Westmalle since 1982 he was to make no alterations. So, when the brewery decided to switch from square fermenters to the more modern conical style, he spent eight years experimenting on a smaller pilot system to ensure the beer would not be effected.

Though the tripel produced by Westmalle is the original and standard bearer for the style, other breweries have produced their own versions. Here are a few to look for at your local market.

New Belgium Trippel

Creamy and fruity with plenty of alcohol punch, this beer the Colorado and now North Carolina brewery reveals citrus, dark fruit and other spicy flavors.

Victory Golden Monkey

Easy drinking and refreshing despite its 9.5% ABV, this one will sneak up on you if you aren’t careful.

Wicked Barley Monks Menage

When this tasty Belgian-style tripel is on tap, it treats drinkers to a solid, boozy experience redolent with cracker, spice and pepper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2017 in Beer, Beer Styles

 

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Summer beer round-up, video segment from “I Know Jax”

In the heat of a Jacksonville summer, a cold beer is just the thing to beat the heat and humidity. With that in mind, I embarked on a journey to several local beer emporiums and picked out a selection of brews that will quench your thirst as well as intrigue your taste buds.

Watch the segment from “I Know Jax,” then read more about each brew below.

Green Room Brewing Co. — Pablo Beach Pale Ale

This refreshing, locally-brewed ale is packaged in a can making it perfect for picnics, barbeques and other outdoor activities. The brewers at Green Room have captured a citrusy brew with notes of pine and hints of malt to cut the bitterness. Serve this straight out of the cooler or in a pint glass and enjoy the great weather here in the River City.

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing — Summer Shandy

Shandy’s are the perfect summer beer with their light and refreshing flavors that are not too heavy. They combine favorite summertime flavors, in this beer’s case smooth wheat beer and sweet lemon. Served very cold, this beer is ideal for sipping on a lazy Sunday afternoon on the back porch.

Harpoon Brewing Co. — UFO White

Brewed with hand-ground spices like coriander and orange peel, this refreshing unfiltered beer follows in the 300 year tradition of Belgian spiced wheat beers in spectacular style. Typical of the style, this beer pours hazy and golden with a fluffy white head. The drinks smooth and refreshing with hints of orange and spice.

Spoetzl Brewery — Shiner Ruby Redbird

With a reddish color and an invitingly sweet grapefruit aroma, this brew promises a drinkable experience that it truly delivers. The flavor is predictably of ruby red grapefruit making this a great, sessionable beer with a flavor that is agreeably different from other beers on the market. Drink this one cold and from a pint glass to fully enjoy.

Cigar City Brewing Company – Cucumber Saison

Brewers tend to look for the next interesting flavor profile. The guys over at Cigar City has found it in this refreshing summer treat that positively reeks (in a good way) of cucumber while it maintains the funkiness one expects in a saison. Drink this one chilled in flutes with a fresh summer salad for a lively and refreshing experience.

Brooklyn BrewerySummer Ale

Lemon is a common and welcome flavor in summer beers and Brooklyn does not disappoint with this entry into the summer beer market. The flavor is biscuity with a light lemon note that rounds out the sweet malts. Drink this one straight from the bottle while enjoying a cool summer breeze on your porch swing.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Kellerweis

According to the brewer’s website, ““Kellerweis is one of the only American Hefeweizens made using the traditional Bavarian style of open fermentation. This difficult and labor-intensive technique adds uncommon depth and flavor complexity.” The flavor is bready with light lemon notes along with cloves and white pepper. This beer is a great accompaniment to any summertime backyard party.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Beer Styles, I Know Jax, The Beer Guy

 

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Video

Summer time is saison season

Saison is a Belgian style of beer that was originally developed to refresh farm hands during the late summer harvests. Today it is just a darn tasty beer that can be enjoyed anytime. Look for great brews like Saison DuPont from Belgium, Saison du Swamp from Swamp Head Brewing in Gainesville, Dragonglass Black Saison from Intuition Ale Works locally in Jacksonville, and the elusive Cucumber Saison from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa.

Last year, on I Know Jax, we aired a segment on Saisons. We thought it would be fitting to the start of summer to give you the opportunity to watch it again. Please remember to tune in to CW17 on Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. (if not pre-empted by Sharks football) and 12:00 midnight for new episodes and new Beer Guy segments!

And do not forget to check out http://www.jaxbeerguy.com for access to the Jax Beer Guy blog, upcoming events, information on beer classes, and more I Know Jax video segments of the Beer Guy.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2013 in Beer Styles

 

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The Porter in Atlanta much more than just a beer bar

Nestled in a funky, somewhat grungy corner of Little Five Points in Atlanta, Ga., The Porter Beer Bar appears rather low brow form the exterior. When you step through the door the impression does not change much with its dark wood cabinets, grey concrete bar, and Mason jar light fixtures. But, you would be wrong in setting your expectations low for this pearl of the burgeoning Atlanta beer scene.

Upon entering, a tattooed and bearded man asked if we would like a table or to sit at the bar. Because I like to be able to see how the bar runs and chat with the bartenders, we opted to sit at the bar. The bar stools seemed mismatched and held together with copious amounts of duct tape, but perhaps that is part of the atmosphere and charm.

We were greeted cheerfully by the bar manager, Justin Wickline who handed us two clipboards; one with the beer list and the other the menu. The Porter boasts around 40 taps of brews that, in the crowded Atlanta beer market, may not sound like a lot when you consider the typical Taco Mac trumps that number with over 100. But, at The Porter, it is not the quantity but rather the quality of their tap choices that draw drinkers to the bar.

On tap the morning we visited was the likes of: Duck Rabbit Duck-Rabbator, Evil Twin Freudian Slip, Green Flash Le Freak, and Lost Abbey 10 Commandments. Along with the taps, imbibers have the option of two brews on beer engines. On our visit there was only one choice, but it was the excellent Allagash Curieux. In addition the bar has an extensive bottle collection ranging from obscure Belgian brews like Pico Alvine Gaspar to excellent American brews like Founders Red Rye Ale.

Wickline was a font of information and definitely knew his beer. As we sat and chatted he presented several beers for us to taste and gave a little information on each. We worked quickly and adeptly to fill orders, take orders, and discuss the finer points of Belgian IPAs. A better bartender would be difficult to find.

Beer, though, is not the only story at the Porter. The food at this quirky little slice of heaven is phenomenal, too. The menu contained such delights as Poutine – rosemary fries covered in parmesan cheese gravy, and cheese curds, Pork & Foie Gras Terrine served with drunken raisins, whole grain mustard, pecans, bacon jam, and bacon powder, and Brasstown Pork Belly served with arugula, cherry tomatoes, bacon vinaigrette, and roasted hatch pepper.

I chose the brunch special Hangover Hash, which was a potent combination of corned beef, potatoes, red peppers, and onions topped with Buffalo sauce and three fried eggs. My companion opted for the Porter’s Half-Pound Cheeseburger of house-made fresh Angus beef patty, bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, homemade pickled red onions, and homemade pickles. The hash was delightfully spicy, but not so much so that the flavor of the corned beef and potatoes were masked. My companion’s cheeseburger was perfectly cooked and heaped with toppings; she could only manage to eat half of the monster.

All-in-all, The Porter, which was recommended to me by a brewer friend, was an excellent choice for a Saturday morning lunch before an afternoon of visiting breweries. The excellent beer choices primed us for later consumption and the food kept us nourished as well as very happy. On our next road trip to Atlanta, The Porter will definitely be on our must-visit list. It should be on yours, too.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Beer, Restaurant, Travel

 

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European Street’s Beer & Baseball a hit

Palm beer

Palm beer (Photo credit: Abi Skipp)

Once a month European Street Cafe throws a party in the Beer Garden located past the left outfield area of the Baseball Grounds known as Beer & Baseball. This month the gathering took place on July 21 which also happens to be the Belgian Independence Day known as Fesstdag. To celebrate, Estreet poured Palm, the number one selling beer in Belgium, and Bright Lights White, a Belgian-style Wit from Intuition Ale Works. Along with the beer there were Estreet sandwiches, soft drinks, and a lot of great people.

The next Beer & Baseball — also the last for this season — will be held on August 11 and will feature Highland Brewing Compay beer. Tickets are available at all European Street Cafe locations. For just $20 you get all the beer you care to drink between 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m, all the Monster German Weiners and Estreet sandwiches you can eat, and a ticket to the game.

The video below was shot at the July event.

 

Follow all of Marc Wisdom’s travel, dining, and beer articles at his Examiner pages: Jacksonville Dining, Jacksonville Craft Beer, Restaurants, Drinks, and City Guides. Click the “Subscribe” button and never miss an article again.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Beer, Restaurant

 

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Belgian National Holiday Feestdag to be celebrated with tastings and special events

The original flag from 1830

The original flag from 1830 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often revolution is sparked by existing passions roused to a boiling point by a work of art, music, or theater. Such is the case with the Belgian Revolution of 1830 in which the Belgian people rose up against the Dutch to wrestle its independence from The Netherlands in part as the result of the opera La muette de Portici. The opera dramatizes the historical uprising of Masaniello against Spanish rule in Naples in 1647.

With the aid of French intellectuals and armed forces, as well as the Catholic clergy who were against the Protestant Dutch King William I, the Belgian people fought for full independence. Because the European powers of the time feared Belgian may become a republic or get annexed to France, a monarch was found to lead the country from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in Germany. On July 21, 1831 the first Belgian king, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg was installed and the date became the Belgian National holiday known as Feestdag.

Since Belgium is known as one of the world’s greatest beer countries, it seems only fitting to celebrate their national holiday with beer-centric celebrations. Here in Jacksonville, there are several events taking place that you will not want to miss including a tasting, beer specials, and a special Bier Garden event at the Jacksonville Suns game.

The first event, takes place tomorrow night at Total Wine and More in the St. John’s Town Center with a tasting of Belgium’s top selling ale, Palm. Palm is a Belgian Pale Ale that was originally produced as competition to the pilsners and lagers that were becoming popular throughout Europe. It is described as neither heavy nor bitter with toasty malt aromas, slightly bitter orange flavors, and a tart, refreshing finish. The tasting at Total Wine will go from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

In addition to the tasting, all four European Street Cafes are celebrating with several specials. Look for beer specials on all week, a happy hour all day on Saturday, July 21 starting at 10:00 a.m. on Palm and Bright Lights White, a new Belgian-style Wit from Intuition Ale Works.

The new Belgian-style Wit from Intuition was fermented with the Celis yeast strain, the same strain used in Hoegaarden in Belgium. Ben and his crew also used a combination of Belgian Pilsner Malt, German Malted Wheat, and Munich Malt along with some flaked wheat and oats. To that grain bill, the wizards at Intuition added acidulated malt or what the Germans call Sauer Malt to give the beer a subtle tang. All the spice flavors percieved in the beer come from the yeast, as Ben says no spices were added.

Estreet is also celebrating with the popular Beer and baseball event at the Jacksonville Suns baseball game Saturday night. Every month baseball fans and beer-lovers alike can spend a night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in the European Street Café Bier Garden located in the left field area. For one low price fans can get admission to the game, all the beer you can drink and all the Estreet food, including Monster German Wieners, Estreet sandwiches and wraps, cole slaw and chips from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p. m. The price is just $20 and tickets are available at all European Street locations.

In addition, the guys out out at Engine 15 along with Carolyn Graham of Brown Distributing are planning to pull out a few surprises, Carolyn says, “It’ll be delicious, I promise.” Festivities begin at 2:00 p. m.

 

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