05 June 2008

KOTBR #48 - Dude, where's Chris' car?

The focus of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable review is Brugge's Tripel de Ripple, a beautiful Belgian that is so smooth that its high alcohol is hidden. Hence, Brugge Brasserie limits you to two Tripels per visit.

On a recent visit, a demonstration in why you get only two Tripels occurred, as we tried to help Knight Emeritus Chris find his car, which he thought was down the street. After half an hour, we discovered that it was, in fact, parked right in front of Brugge.

The rules are there for a reason, people! On with the reviews...

Gina's Review:

On our first visit to review the Tripel, my notes consisted solely of "I love Brugge". I am sad to report that my notes the second time around weren't much better, but that's the beauty of Brugge. There's just something about drinking a pint (or more) there with friends. It's always a good time. As far as the Tripel goes...there is just a hint of citrus-like sweetness with a dry finish.

I think that it's a remarkable thing when a beer can pack a heavy punch alcohol-wise, but still be drinkable enough for almost any palate. 4.39 mugs

Mike's Review:

While testing out a wide variety of Belgian and French style ales at our last meeting at World Class Beverages, our host and generous leader, Bob Mack, brought up that the brewers of Orval - a Belgian Pale - suggest aging the beer in the bottle for six months before serving.

While this isn't the case with all Belgian beers, there does seem to be some thought that aging does the beers a service.

More from Bob:
Jef Versele (now head of Van Steenberge and grandson of Josef van Steenberge) has talked to us a lot about high fermentation beers and aging. He finds that Piraat, for example, is best between six months and eighteen months of age. He and I actually visited Kahn's Fine Wines when he was here in town a couple of years ago and he looked at the date codes on the Piraat bottles checking for the best month of vintage. Knowing that I am a Piraat fan, he was picking them out for me and giving me some Piraat education for my own enjoyment.

Of course, Piraat is bottle conditioned and I expect that the beers are generally devised by recipe to peak after several months since much of Van Steenberge's market is in export to North America and other continents.
What's all that got to do with Brugge's Tripel de Ripple?

Well, I've had the beer at least four times - once during the Indiana Craft Beer and Food Symposium (where you'll see that everyone immediately thought "banana"), once a few months later at Badaboomz (now J. Gumbos), then twice in the past two weeks. What's the difference? The first two times, I got a full-on banana explosion, and would have easily rated the beer at around 4.5 mugs.

But now that now that we're officially rating the beer, I wouldn't go that high. Why? Because the banana has gone away.

Is this an aging thing? Ted has admitted that the Tripel on now is a bit "green". This time around I got a nose of bubblegum, vanilla, apple, a hint of that smokey "beer poured on an open grill" thing... but I really had to go digging to pull banana out. The same elements were there in the taste - apple and a hint of vanilla, but also a lot of grape, butter, biscuit maybe?

But I really liked the banana.

In any case, I'd have to give the beer as we had it this time around 3.5 mugs.

But in being fair I think it's best to average my earlier 4.5 - a score I was pretty sure of then - with my current 3.5. I have a feeling this beer only gets better. 4.00 Mugs

Jim's Review:

Finally...something out of Terre Haute that smells good.

Served in Brugge's trademark goblet. Pours with a cloudy yellow-orange color and a nice white head that dissipates into a fine ring at the edge of the glass. Nose evokes bananas, apples, and a bit of mustiness. Flavor is a wonderful combination of apples, bananas, and spices with a touch of caramel and sourness. Mouthfeel is silky. As the goblet warms, the caramel character of the taste becomes a little more prevalent.

Someone (I think it was Mike) once asked if Ted has ever brewed a bad beer. My answer: Hell no! 4.20 mugs.

Jason's Review:

I leave for my beach vacation in 16 days.

What the hell does that have to do with Tripel de Ripple?

Because a common theme between my notes when drinking this elixir during my past two visits to Brugge Brasserie includes "I smell clams or shellfish" and "I taste salt; something briny". I'm not saying it stinks of fish, but when I drink this, I am taken to the ripples of the ocean. And I mean it in the most complimentary way possible.

It's probably in my head. Or maybe it is the aroma of Brugge's mussels that bring this out. I don't know. But I enjoy it. It is the beach in a glass for those who can't make it to the shoreline this summer.

Other notes of mine: cloudy, orangish-gold in color; clean, slightly sweet smell, an itty bit of banana (unlike the aged bottle we drank a few months back that was full of bananas), apples, slightly sour; alcoholly bite; dry mouth feel; and flavors and aromas gain strength as it approaches room temperature. 4.30 mugs


  1. I hope you poured him into a cab and sent him home.

  2. Worry not, Merle. We put him back in the school bus and told him to get those kids home immediately.

    (That's a joke.)

    Actually, the reason we were all looking for his car is because we had taken his keys from him, and we wanted to move the car closer to Brugge so he could easily find it and pick it up the next morning.

  3. Glad to know you kept Chris safe. Knights Emeritus are hard to come by.

  4. Yes, I should have made it clear in the posting. He did not drive home that evening. We were not going to let that happen.

  5. tons of banana isn't really appropriate for any belgian beer. the esters should be more citrusy. i'd think you'd get more banana from pitching hot or underpitching, stressing the yeast. maybe the brigge is fermenting cooler these days.

  6. MMM Banana lambic....

    Maybe not the one you linked though... C+? That's a pretty low score for their lambic list.

  7. Just a point I want to add Pminus - and one you may be aware of - our reviews very rarely take into account styles or guidelines - it's sort of an informal policy (if there such a thing) that was instituted right off the bat with Hoosier Beer Geek.

    So the presence of banana wouldn't generally hurt or help the beer score here. Brewing to style - while it definitely has its place - isn't something we're concerned with when rating beer here.

  8. banana lambic sounds too much like banana hammock. that's not something i'd want to be a part of...