Hi guys! This is my first entry for Beer Saturday. As such, I think a bit of relevant presentation is in order.
I'm French. I have nothing to do with it: I was born like that. In France, beer is frown upon and wine is king.
So let's clear one thing right away: beer is in no way less noble than wine. Maybe even the contrary. When you make wine, everything is given already. You have a good land, good weather and good cépage? You will make good wine. Water, sugar, yeast: everything is given by the grape. You can only act on the proportions of the mix after fermentation.
But brewing beer, that's an art to master. How do you like your beer? Pick the alcohol level, pick the color, pick the bitterness, pick the flavors, but pick wisely: everything you choose has an impact on the taste of course, but also on the body, the thickness, the propensity to make foam and maintain it and so on. There are hundreds of yeasts, hops, malt varieties. Hell, you don't even need to use malt if you want! Do you know why Asian beers lack body and have a watery consistency, and the foam can't stay? Because they use rice as primary cereal, and rice lacks in protein, which have an important role in density and foam.
Luckily, I was born in the Flemish part of France, so I learned and recognize how exceptional beers can be and how grateful we shall be for the hard work of brewers! I homebrewed a couple of beers, you can also be grateful you didn't taste them!
Anyway, enough talk, I wanted to present you what is, in my book, the beer that is the closest to perfection. All hail the Tripel Karmeliet!
The Tripel Karmeliet is brewed in the Bosteels brewery, an old Belgian brewery owned by the family Bosteels for around 200 years. Until recently. It has been acquired by the beer giant InBev a few years ago. Let's hope they don't murder it.
The recipe is dated from 1679 and is originated from a Carmelite convent. Hence its name.
It's an ale, high fermentation, unfiltered and with 8.4 % of alcohol. Quite common for Belgian Triple style. It's specificity is the use of three cereals: wheat, oats and barley, which are all brewed in both malted and unmalted state. What else we know about its fabrication is the use of Styrian Golding hop (it's an aroma hop, not very bitter), and that the yeast used was developed in-house.
So what makes it so special in my heart?
First of all, the glass is gorgeous. It is decorated with lily flowers, or fleur-de-lys more exactly, excuse my French. One is supposed to pour it as such that the foam touches the top of the flowers and up to the coat of arm. I took care to pour it perfectly for you guys. Anyway, if I missed, I would have just poured another one!
It presents a beautiful blond-golden color, a bit cloudy as it is unfiltered. It smells of fruits, mostly banana and vanilla tones.
Okay, we agree it's beautiful but it's not what matters! What happens in mouth?
In mouth, the magic of the cereals mix takes place! It has the freshness of barley, the softness of wheat, and the creaminess of oat. The consistency in mouth is similar to milk. For a beer at 8.4%, where supposedly most of the sugar has been fermented, the mix of malted/unmalted, and the high protein content of the cereals give to the beer a perfect density and consistency.
It leaves a taste of flower/fruit, again in the tones of orange/banana/vanilla. You won't notice the bitterness, it's really very slightly bitter (on the orange side), it's mostly fruity.
On a side note, the shape of the glass allows to (somehow but not perfectly) drink the beer without drinking the head. So the foam can still protect the beer form oxidation.
I prefer a more indented glass for that purpose. But well, if it's the only reproach I can name, in all cases it is drunk before it oxidizes!
I hope I made you guys thirty! The Tripel Karmeliet is really one of a kind, it won multiple prizes, and if you see one passing by, buy it, drink it to my health, you won't regret it!