Brouwerij De Halve Maan - Straffe Hendrik Tripel
Serving Temperature:52-59° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Chalice, or Goblet
This month we’re proud to bring you a very special beer from a world class brewery and one of our favorites, Brouwerij De Halve Maan: the Straffe Hendrik Tripel. This is a very lightly distributed beer throughout the United States and the Rare Beer Club’s allocation is the largest portion of what was imported for 2023.
As we poured it into our glasses, we were taken in by its deep gold-to-amber hue and its dense, creamy, long-lasting head made of tightly packed fine bubbles. Leaning in to breathe in the aromas, we were greeted by pronounced fruity esters of banana, apple, pear, and quince. The fruit aromas persisted with candied orange peel, lemon zest, fleshy apricot, and ripe peach. Then, intriguing spice notes emerged with clove and white pepper up front followed by coriander, ginger, a hint of anise, a waft of bubblegum, and a touch of honey. We were also pleased by the aroma of Saaz and Styrian hops and lightly toasty caramel malts, giving a well-rounded and balanced impression.
As we took our first sip we were rewarded with flavors of toasted bread, hints of white cherry, and golden raisins, adding to the layers unveiled in this beer. With the next sip came flavors of banana, yellow apple, Bartlett pear, and fragrant quince. As we continued to indulge in the Straffe Hendrik Tripel, the layers of flavor next turned to stone fruit and citrus, with apricot and peach showing prominently, with the addition of yellow plum, and followed by candied orange and lemon peel. These fruit flavors were mingled together handsomely with subtle spice notes of clove, coriander, and white pepper, along with an infusion of star anise and a hint of ginger.
The Straffe Hendrik Tripel was very well balanced between the semi-sweet malts with notes of caramel and honey, and the contrasting bitterness of Saaz and Styrian hops, which also contributed their own earthy, spicy, and herbal flavors. We even picked up on classic flavors of mango and lemongrass the Styrian hops offer which added even more depth to this well layered ale.
Thankfully the experience didn’t stop there as the Straffe Hendrik Tripel exhibits a round mouthfeel and has a rich, full-bodied texture. It also has a luxurious and creamy mousse made of fine, tightly packed bubbles. Its finish is long and smooth, fully attenuated, and delicately layered leaving our palates ready for the next delicious sip.
Straffe Hendrik Tripel is appropriate for some cellaring time, perhaps up to 5 years or so, but that’s not necessary for getting the most enjoyment out of it. Drinking now is very rewarding. For pairings, we’d use that combination of fruits, malts, and honeyed elements alongside some pork tenderloin with an apple glaze, roasted duck with an orange reduction sauce, or Belgian Boudin Blanc sausage. Side dishes make a great pairing as well, such as southern-style dressing, rosemary red potatoes, and pommes frites with mayonnaise. For dessert pairing try Liege Waffles with your favorite topping, Crème brûlée, or vanilla-driven desserts.
The current location where Brouwerij De Halve Maan sits has been in operation as a brewery for five centuries. Leon Maes, aka Henri I, became the owner of Brouwerij De Halve Maan in 1856. After many “Hendriks,” fifth generation brewer Veronique Maes, being one of the first female brewers in Belgium at that time, enters in 1981. That same year, being dedicated to making exceptional beer which captured the heritage and history of the brewery, she brewed the first Straffe Hendrik, an homage to all the brewers before her. Straffe Hendrik became the most important beer the brewery made and set the course for the next four decades and beyond.
For over a century, the brewery on Walplein has been crafting distinctive beers, preserving the age-old tradition of brewing that has been handed down through generations. Now with Xavier Vanneste leading as the sixth generation, Brouwerij De Halve Maan remains dedicated to upholding these time-honored customs. Their journey of innovation spans from the days of home delivery by horse and cart to the establishment of a remarkable beer pipeline for efficient beer transportation. Presently, Brouwerij De Halve Maan proudly stands as the sole authentic family brewery nestled in the historic heart of Bruges, boasting a legacy rich in history and tradition.
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