Go “down cellar” and bring this up: Allagash Tripel Ale

On the docket:  750ml cork & cage Allagash Tripel Ale, bottle date:  8/6/15.

Poured into:  Chimay etched chalice

S:  A quickly rising, stark-white whip of head formed on the surface of a nearly Ticonderoga #2 pencil-colored body.  The head will settle down, clinging to the top in a ¾ thumb-width.  Tiny bubbles zip to the surface.  There is a visible cloudiness in the body, but this treat was bottle conditioned, so that’s just fine by me.

A:  Light, malty sweetness works in partnership with a dry, spicy note of clove.  Gentle banana and bubblegum (and I mean really gentle) yeast esters also emanate from the head.  A mild fruitiness (Allagash says passionfruit).  Spicy, earthy hops probably feel overlooked, but I waved at them, made them feel appreciated.

T:  Dry clove spice and an earthy, husky/straw flavor meet your senses immediately.  One will also detect some sweetness from the malt and the candi sugar.  There’s certainly a little fruitiness in the mouth, too.  Peach?  Apricot?  Mango?  I’ll chalk that up to the yeast.  Honey wends its way into the flavor.  The hops and the higher alcohols show up in the finish.  It’s a slight warming tingle, but by no means unpleasant. Tripels are dangerous– light body, great flavor, and well-integrated alcohol.  This one comes in at 9% abv.  Take your time with this cork and cage beauty.

F:  Light, fluffy, tingly, and like they said on the bottle, a long finish.  A great sipper.

O:  An excellent interpretation of a cherished Belgian style by an American brewery.  High marks to Allagash.  If you think this one is good, try their barrel-aged releases.

Suggested food pairing:  Rich creamy Blue cheese, Italian or clove seasoned pork-loin, fruit tart or maybe even a slice of apple pie a la mode

S:  4.25  A:  4.5  T:  4.75  F:  4.5  O:  4.5

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Belgian Trifecta Part 2: Chimay White

On the docket:  11.2 oz. bottle of Chimay’s Cinq Cents (white)

Poured into:  Brand new logoed Chimay Chalice

S:  A stark white, meringue-like head sits on top of a burnished bronze body.  This is not a fake tan however, but the real deal.  Until pouring the remains of the bottle (gasp) I could see tiny bubbles shooting up to join with the underside of the head that sits around, leisurely, taunting me to disturb it.  Lacing is nearly the entire side of the glass.  Wow.  Thick blotches with pockmarks.

A:  Gentle malt sweetness melds with a yeasty clove and spiciness.  Hops are very subtle, and lend a spiciness as well.  The alcohols whisper at you, leading me to believe they’re well integrated into the beer.  I could smell this for hours.

T:  Sugar and spice, which makes tripels nice, greet the tongue immediately.  Despite the sweet greeting, this beauty dries out in an instant.  The slightest touch of caramel, brown sugar, and an ending of subtle noble hops round out this beer.  Along with the previous, delicate warmth develops as you drink it.  It reminds you that though this beer is easy and enjoyable to drink, it’s got some heft.  The label states 8%.  I’ve got a small bottle, but a cork and cage version would do most people in.

F:  Tingle, tingle, tingle, how the bubbles jingle.  Most use the term “expressive” carbonation when referring to traditional tripels.  It certainly applies here.  Without the carbonation, Cinq Cents might be a bit of a chore to finish.  Thankfully, the bubbles “lift and separate” the thickness from your palate.  The hops and the spice stick around considerably after a swallow.  Then you go back for more.  Long, drying finish.  Refreshing.  But NOT a lawnmower beer.

O:  The monks of Scourmont Abbey have been at this for more than 150 years.  They’ve got their art down to a science.  Excellent execution of the Trappist tripel style, those in-the-know utter the name Chimay in hushed reverential tones, like death metal-heads do with the names Åkerfelt, Schuldiner, and Lindberg.  I could drink this all day long, but I have another Chimay beer to review.

S:  4.5  A:  4.5  T:  4.75  F:  4.5  O:  4.5

Suggested food pairing:  sharp cheddar, lemon-seasoned chicken, summer salads, lemon squares or fruit tart