Brouwerij De Brabandere - Petrus Brewmaster’s Selection: Wild Tripel Ale
- ABV: 8%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 42–47° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Chalice, Goblet or Chardonnay Glass
This first release in Brouwerij De Brabandere’s Brewmaster’s Selection series was crafted by the brewery’s most experienced Master Brewer: Chris Van Acker, who’s spent more than 30 years of his career honing his skills there. This beer is a one-time offering that’s never before been sold in the U.S. There’s some very limited U.S. distribution slotted for around February 2018, but our Rare Beer Club members will be getting this beer at least a couple months prior.
Wild Tripel Ale brings together a number of disparate influences into a beautifully crafted blend of beers. 85% comes from a special batch of the exquisite Petrus Tripel that’s had five different additions of the hugely expressive Amarillo and Cascade hops (three times during the boil, a fourth at flameout, plus a dry-hop addition). To that magnificent base is added a 15% portion of the brewery’s foeder beer: a vibrantly acidic counterpoint that has spent 24 months maturing inside of oak foeders—providing a lightly tart lift to the entire enterprise. The Brewmaster’s Selection series allows the three master brewers of this historic brewery to share their unique expressions (Yves Benoit and Pieter Maes, their other two main brewers, have their own releases coming out soon as well), and this deftly handled blend of delicious Belgian tripel, American hop varieties, and a touch of tart foeder beer is such an experience.
Wild Tripel Ale pours a pleasantly hazed, vibrant golden color that’s capped by a resilient, bright-white foam, leaving complex lacing behind when the glass gets tilted. It’s very much tripel-like in appearance, though with a burnished-copper hue that suggests the barrel aging of that foeder-beer portion. Vibrant. Wood-tinged. Sturdily constructed. From the moment this gets poured, there’s a ton of peppery phenolics from the underlying Petrus Tripel: loads of bitter, spicy and fruity Belgian-yeast character that’s boldly expressed with everything else going on, but still smooth and integrated. The citrusy and orange-tinged contributions from the Cascade and Amarillo are pulpy and fresh and fit well alongside the tripel’s fruitiness. At the edges, all throughout this beer, are those tart, very subtly funky foeder-beer elements: all the quiet tart lemon and subtle whispers of funk and blue cheese—blended in for a flourish.
It certainly feels like a Belgian beer. This special release from Brouwerij De Brabandere gets packed with effervescent, finely integrated bubbles, putting plenty of energy into all of these different elements. The Petrus Tripel at the core comes through with layers of peppery and honeyed goodness, lean in body but packed with flavor, while grassiness and herbal notes are expressed as prominently as that citrusy-orange hoppiness. Its fruit character sometimes hits as clear tangerine segments, more often surrounded by grass and herbs. The influence of the underlying 15% foeder beer is soft oak and tartness near the periphery, a secondary layer that keeps everything feeling very lively. It’s both effervescent and creamy, an effortlessly smooth blend of Belgian tripel, American hops and oak-aged foeder beer. Refreshing and vast.
The brewery’s provided best-before date gives this about three years of cellaring possibility, though the overall profile of Wild Tripel Ale will shift considerably over that long of time: the Amarillo and Cascade hop contributions diminishing, a central caramelization emerging that will shift the balance away from this beer’s vibrant, peppery and citrus bitterness. Keep an eye on long-cellared bottles in that regard. The pepper and vibrant carbonation have us thinking of buttery fish/shellfish for pairings, such as baked scallops with butter and herbs.
Brouwerij De Brabandere, previously known as Bavik brewery, began back in August 1894, when a farmer named Adolphe De Brabandere formally applied to build a brewery with the town council of Bavikhove. At the time, Adolphe couldn’t possibly have known how much the brewery would shape the course of his family’s history, but it was in that same year that his child Joseph De Brabandere made his own first batch of beer. When Joseph passed away in 1929, he in turn transferred leadership of their family brewery to his own son Albert.
The brewery would continue to evolve throughout the 20th century. While originally the beer was sold only to individuals and cafes, in 1950 their sales became directed at beer merchants. An increased sales network made the Bavik and Bon-Val products available throughout West and East Flanders as well as in Hainaut. Albert’s sons, Ignace and Vincent, both got involved with the brewery. When department stores threatened business in the mid-70s, their brewery diversified its base to more restaurants and cafes, growing from 150 clients in 1975 to about 1,000 in 1994. While the brewery today touts a variety of brands, Petrus Oud Bruin served to bring them an early acclaim, as did its especially tart base beer—beloved by Michael Jackson, who came up with its name—Aged Pale. Other successful releases such as Petrus Tripel and Petrus Special followed, with the brewery taking home numerous national and international awards. Today, its lines include Petrus Tradition and Sours, Bavik Super Pils and Wittekerke.
Ignace De Brabandere has headed the brewery for decades now, the latest generation of the family-run business. In 2014, as the brewery was celebrating its 120th birthday, they decided to formally change the name to Brouwerij De Brabandere to better reflect the history of the century-plus-old brewery. De Brabandere’s a proud member of the Belgian Family Brewers, an impressive coalition of 20 family-owned Belgian breweries that have been operating there for 50+ consecutive years. Brouwerij De Brabandere has slowly grown into one of the most successful independent producers in Belgium, and we’re excited to have this opportunity to get one of their limited-release offerings into the hands of our Rare Beer Club members. We have long been fans of the beautifully fermented Petrus brands—and this one’s exceptional. For more on this historic Belgian institution, visit www.brouwerijdebrabandere.be/en/.
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