I cracked open the bottle of Redhook Tripel tonight that I received last week, unsure of what to expect but with high hopes all the same. I have to say I wasn’t disappointed; Redhook has extended beyond their comfort zone with a big beer that will surprise people, I think.
The Belgian Tripel style is a big, strong golden ale typically fortified with sucrose sugar: Belgian candi sugar as is often the case (what was used here). This blatant sugar addition drives the alcohol strength to “extreme” levels and keeps the body light; you won’t find the heavy, cloying mouthfeel of a Barleywine, but rather a lighter, spicier presence.
Redhook’s Tripel is 10.2% alcohol by volume, substantial indeed. It’s certainly strong enough to cellar, and their own press release notes that it can be cellared for up to two years.
I served it up in the special “Redhook Limited Release” goblet that was sent along with the beer.
Appearance: Clear and bright copper, with finely-bubbled off-white head.
Smell: Slightly sweet with a touch of Belgian yeast funk, a hint of the alcohol strength, and maybe some light peppery spicing.
Taste: Definitely a Belgian-y strong ale, with big alcohol presence, a sweet streak, and a vegetable (beet) note happening. A little cloying, a little puckery from the alcohol heat. Simple, and tasty.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a drying aftertaste character that’s prickly in the mouth. But also a bit sticky-sweet in the finish, competing with the prickly character.
Overall: Quite good, I think, pleasant and tasty and sippable—like an aperitif or maybe even a champagne.