Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tasting notes - Urthel Tripel

That's Brewery de Leyerth Urthel Hibernus Quentum Tripel, to be precise. With the world's best import beer buyer currently on maternity leave and kegs of homebrew stashed up like a squirrel's autumn bounty in the basement, I haven't had much opportunity to dip my toes in any new ales lately. But when I recently came across this oddity, whose label proudly boasts itself as (in English, nonetheless) "Belgium's newest cult classic", it was like the beer-blogging Cthulhu within me was roused from its ancient and terrible slumber. I'm just a total sucker for hyperbolic liquor labels, I guess. That, and the folks at Leyerth appear to have adopted a belgique Snuffy Smith as their spokesmonster.

Proudly endorsed by Snuffy Smith.
Perhaps in owing to a palate that's been affected in part by American craft beer's generally higher hopping rates, this tripel kicks a bit more bitterness on the front end than you'd expect from the style, but quickly evolves into the classic fruity acidic sourness you find in the regional archetypes - Westmalle, Chimay Cinq Cents, etc. (compared to American versions of the style that usually don't have any tartness to balance the natural sweetness of the sugar added to boost the alcohol content). If anyone out there needs a refresher course in the difference between a tripel and a "strong golden" ale, they need do nothing more than sit down with bottles of Urthel and Duvel (and me, if you insist) to get a quick lesson in just how different these pilsner-hued ales really are.
Urthel also brews a hop-driven harvest-style ale (post to come including comparison to the newest addition to the Chouffe family of artisanal ales) as well as a dubbel and a quadrupel ale. More information is hard to come by from the official site, however, particularly if your Dutch is a little rusty. So, while the site entices you to "discover the secret", you're likely to just leave more confused that when you arrived. And, if you don't have the patience for the ticker text at the bottom of the "English" page, here's what you're missing:
...The Urthel website is completely renewed, with more background information...The good old Knuyst has disappeared from the cafés and the new Paché-glas has made its entrance...Beware of The Bockerijders of Ghorp, the new Urthel Bock 6.5 is arriving...Frightfully delicious...More about the fairy-tale of the Erthels ...and more ...much more...

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