13 August 2009

Hoosier Beer Geek Classics: KOTBR #1 - Dark Horse Sapient Trip Ale

As you may be aware, we're slowly creeping up on the third anniversary of the creation of this site. In those three years we've gained quite a few readers.

We've grown to our current status from pretty ordinary roots - Jason (who is still with us), Chris, and Colleen (who are not longer with us) sat down at Chris' house and had a beer. And they wrote about it. No mug scores, no clever lyric writing - just straightforward beer writing. Well, kinda...

The article below originally ran on August 13th, 2006.

Sapient Trip Ale is belgian tripel (three times the amount of malt used in a regular beer) and a summer seasonal from Dark Horse Brewing Company, located in Marshall, Michigan.

Interesting fact: Sapient means wise & intelligent. Also, it is made with a trappist yeast strain (which means the yeast originates from one the six remaining Trappist - monk - breweries in the world).

The following are the reviews given by HBG's own Knights of the Beer Roundtable:

Chris: This beer has a rather deep amber/golden color, though certainly not opaque. It presents a fresh, fragrant bouquet – something of competing hints of apple/cherry/wood/clove. It appears to be lightly carbonated, though definitely effervescent.

The first taste is very sweet, very fruity, and just a little bit spicy. It has a potent cherry taste to me, giving it a passing resemblance to Unibroue’s Quelque Chose, though not as strong of as that one. The aftertaste is still sweet & fruity, and lingers somewhere in the middle taste buds of my tongue. It feels thin & watery in the mouth, and it is an easy drink.

I must admit that I’m not a big fan of “fruity” beers, so while I wouldn’t put it high on my list, that comes from a personal bias. For someone who likes the sweet and fruit, I would recommend it. I am most intrigued by the label design - what is that? A monk wielding a mailbox like an axe?

Jason: When it comes to beers, I tend to prefer them light and crisp or dark and malty. When it comes to wheat beers, I tend to turn them away on account of the often fruity hints that I find. Banana is my least favorite fruit in the world and it seems to be the most common fruity flavor I find in wheat beers.

While a Tripel isn't necessarily a wheat, it tends to have some similar characteristics, mainly the fruity aroma and taste. The Sapient Trip Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company is no exception. In the aroma, you find a bit of citrus and a bit of banana. The taste, however, is a little surprising. While I could definitely find some fruity flavors hiding in the back, the taste of clove really overwhelmed them. There is a spiciness found in the back of the throat when you drink it. I also found a great deal of bitterness. Both senses were left as part of the aftertaste, which I did not find appealing.

What I also found was a sweet, sugary flavor left on my lips. The sweet finish isn't surprising since Tripels use Belgian candy sugar in the brewing process. This sweetness balanced out with the spiciness and bitterness. All together, it creates a beer that slightly more light than heavy, slightly more chewy than watery, and slighty more smooth than coarse. Really, and surprisingly, a very balanced beer.

Visually, it was reddish gold in color with a bit of cloudiness to it, a kind of visual mix of wheat and a red ale. It did not have much head or Belgian lace to it though Tripels normally have plenty of both. The label had a monk (makes sense with it being a Belgian style beer) carrying a mailbox (which makes no sense to me).

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good Belgian beer. It harmonious mix of flavors creates a great balance for the beer drinkers palate. While I prefer porters, stouts, and lagers, I wouldn't turn this beer down if it was offered to me again.

Of course, it wouldn't be wise to turn down any beer that's offered to you.

Please note before reading Colleen's review that Jason and I respect the beer. That's Rule #1 of the Hoosier Beer Geek - Respect the Beer. Colleen, obviously, does not respect the beer. Therefore, Colleen is, from this point forward, banned from Roundtables.

Colleen: It tastes good. It tastes like chicken. Chicken is good.


  1. Before someone else says it -

    Way to totally BS the definition of a Tripel.

  2. dark horse makes beer nearly as good as their labels are bad.

    looking at their labels makes me think i could be a graphic designer. and that thought would be wrong.

  3. Cut Maples some slack, Rod. This was the very first review he did, so he didn't know what he was talking about yet.

    Then again, we all know that Maples is the king of BS, so maybe cutting him some slack is not in order. ;)

  4. I think we need more reviews that simply read "Tastes like chicken".