This month’s Beer of the Month allotments include two very distinct Belgian brews, both shying away from the styles each beer is described as. I love that some Belgian breweries — like De Scheldebrouwerij, Affilgem & De Ranke — are coming around to more aggressively hopped styles backed by sweet bready malts that most Belgian styles are known for.
Enter Brouwerij Slaghmuylder’s Witkap Pater Tripel. There’s a sweeter malt character to this guy (possibly from Belgian candi sugar or additional sugar adjuncts, which can be added later and are 100% fermentable to boost alcohol content, go figure), yet the focus should be highlighted on a spicier yeast character. Smells and tastes like cloves, huh? A nice floral bouquet of aromatic hops hit the nose, moreso than most traditional Tripel styles.
Described as a “delicate & subtle abbey beer”, this brew is lighter-bodied, easy on the palate, but you can definitely feel the alcohol content hit your stomach as you take consecutive sips. There’s a crisp finish from the carbonation, yet no lasting malt impression. This one is balanced. The label on Witkap Pater Tripel mentions that this beer is bottle-conditioned with the possibility of cellaring. Don’t, consume it fresh. Although it would hold up to a nice little experiment, this beer’s delicate malt profile will fall flat if aged for more than a few months.
Suggested pairings: Shrimp ceviche (shellfish & Tripels forever!), fresh asparagus pesto pasta, spiced peach cobbler.
Similar beers to try: Chimay Tripel, La Fin Du Monde, Westmalle Tripel, Russian River Damnation Batch 23.
Brouwerij De Scheldebrouwerij’s Hop Ruiter, roughly translating to ‘Hop Rider’, is another beer that strays from the Belgian-style Blonde style. This guy is officially described as having “Belgian yeast-driven flavors with an American / assertive hoppiness”, which is somewhat accurate. Funny how ‘American’ and ‘assertive’ are used as descriptors for anything hopped.
A little more conservative on the hop spectrum, Hop Ruiter is dry-hopped with noble varieties which translates to a more delicate, mostly floral hop profile. Noble hops are those dudes that come to party real quick with aroma but contain a low amount of bitterness so they leave you wanting more. The nose boasts of candi sugar, a light bouquet of floral hops, and bready malts. A sweeter yet light malt profile (see a pattern here?) lends to a heavier alcohol content. I’m glad this bottle is only 35CL. When imbibing, notice how the funky earthiness of the yeast and sweet malts linger.
Suggested pairings: Steamed mussels, grilled chicken with mushroom sauce, Havarti cheese
Similar beers to try: Duvel, La Chouffe, Moinette Blond
Consume these beers fresh and (ideally) on your porch on a warmer Sunday.