Scratching My Head in Confusion
A Review of Tripel Karmeliet by Bosteels Brouwerij
Posted on 9/21/2011 by Chops
                   
Good
Every once in a while you will come across a beer that leaves you scratching your head in confusion. Not that the beer is necessarily bad, just that it's, well... odd. Something seems off about it and you just can't put your finger on it. This was my impression of the Tripel Karmeliet from Bosteels Brewery. I have a feeling that I am missing something about this beer and may need a little help.

In the glass, this beer has a lighter straw coloration, which I found to be very light for a tripel. There is no visible sediment, which is also atypical, but not unheard of. Truth be told, it looks a lot more like a Belgian pale ale than a tripel. There is a lot of carbonation in this beer and it came out with a big fluffy head, almost like a saison. Then I went in for that first whiff. I sat there puzzled. I took another whiff. I shook my head in confusion. This beer smelled like a mass-produced pilsner. Yes, this beer smelled like a damn Budweiser. To be fair, there was a faint lemony vibe to the aroma, but that only made it smell like a lemony Bud. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to that first sip.

Luckily the taste saved the session. I was close to sending it back and chalking it up to a bad experience, if it had also tasted like a crappy pilsner. There is a strong citrus vibe to this beer that locks in from start to finish. It consists mainly of a zesty lemon flavor with some grassy notes and a light sourdough vibe. There are also a biscuit like character that gives the beer a little body, but is otherwise quite thin for a tripel. It's very tangy, but far from smooth. In all honestly, it tastes and feels more like a strong witbier. The beer finishes very tart and bitter.

Another minor thing I noticed is that the bottle has two different spellings of tripel. One is ''tripel'' and the other is ''triple''. This may or may not be a mistake and I just don't know enough about the beer or brewery to speak intelligently on the matter. I certainly hope that it's intentional because I expect an inattention to detail from Anheuser-Busch, but not from Belgians.

Overall, I found the Tripel Karmeliet from Bosteels Brewery to be a strange yet tasty brew. I hesitate to recommend it to any particular camp because something just doesn't feel right about the experience. After doing a little research, I found that this beer garners a great deal of praise, which makes me think that I may have come across a bad batch or bottle. So while I post this review to chronicle the experience, I remain on the fence with my opinion. This is a beer to revisit at a later day, but until then, I would love some insight from other beer fans.

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Tripel Karmeliet by Bosteels Brouwerij
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