Recommended: Allagash Tripel Ale
I'm not really a fan of the spring and summer seasons. I have seasonal asthma which kicks off heavy at the beginning of Spring and lingers through early Summer. Allergies, itchy eyes and drippy nose = G.O.M. (Grumpy Old Man). Also, without getting too personal, I sweat. A lot. For a guy who's under 5'5" and about 125lbs., I sweat like an NFL linebacker. So when it gets hot, I'm changing my shirt twice a day and wishing it was October.
So why do you care? I'm not sure but my general unhappiness with the Spring/Summer tends to creep into my beer consciousness. All those summer ales and hefeweizens (German wheat beers) at 5% ABV or below aren't that exciting to me. Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to drink a 12% ABV barleywine on a hot summer day but, I need a bit more "body" to keep me interested. Thank God for Belgian Tripels!
Belgian Tripels are named because of the amount of malt used in the brewing process. How much more than usual? You guessed it! They are light in color due to the use of Belgian candy sugar and look pretty "innocent" on a hot summer day. However, they are notoriously high in alcohol which keeps you from putting them away at a high rate. For me, it's the perfect summer brew. I can sip one (or two if I'm on my deck) and get flavor, body and "punch".
I pretty much love anything Allagash Brewing does and on my latest visit to my local, I stumbled upon its Tripel Ale. Although it's made here in the USA, it's done in a Belgian style. Let's see how this matches up to the real thing...
Appearance: Hazy, golden orange. When held up to direct light, I get a bright straw color. A fluffy, white two finger head that leaves a significant amount of lacing.
Smell: It smells like a Belgian (beer, not person). Spicy banana notes with a faint hint of clove. That yeasty Belgian aroma mixed with citrus touches. And, a very slight hint of farmhouse funk.
Taste: Oh yes! So image a hot summer day with the grill going and someone hands you liquid nirvana. Citrus alcohol with sweet banana. A very nice spice and orange flavor with just a touch of a bitter hop finish. Each sip encourages another. I'm sipping not because it's 9% ABV but because I want it to last!
Mouthfeel: It's extremely light and full of carbonation. My mouth and throat are fighting because both want this beer to stick around longer!
Overall: Like the very attractive woman that has a bipolar personality, this one is dangerous! It looks like a light wheat ale but its high ABV will take you out if you're not careful. A very highly rated beer that easily lives up to its billing. This may be my go to summer ale for 2012. Less expensive than the original Belgian beers and just as tasty? Sounds like a win/win. I've heard this is available on tap in my area. I'm now on a mission...