Brouwerij Fort Lapin - Bruges La Morte Tripel
Serving Temperature:42–49° F
Suggested Glassware:Chalice, Goblet, or Tulip Glass
We managed to secure not one but two world-class exclusives from Brouwerij Fort Lapin in Bruges, Belgium. This exceptional tripel, along with the accompanying quad, was imported into the U.S. specially for our Rare Beer Club members. Bruges La Morte Tripel is a highly limited dry-hopped tripel—top-fermented with Belgian yeast and refermented in the bottle.
Fort Lapin’s Bruges La Morte Tripel pours a hazed, glowing golden-orange color capped by significant white foam, with solid retention and lacing. We found vibrant white pepper and cloves in the early aromatics. Following up, more subtle notes of candied maltiness, cotton candy, and apricots provide some rounded malt aspects that give this Fort Lapin release an exceptional amount of depth overall, balanced nicely by the yeast’s spiciness. A significant round fruitiness throughout: we noticed hints of banana, apple, cherry… The Belgian yeast presence keeps this wonderfully dry overall, and allows all of that additional malt and fruit-forward complexity plenty of space. Beautifully handled tripel from the aromatics alone.
This dry-hopped tripel’s vibrant carbonation and nicely dry core presence keeps this hugely drinkable throughout. There’s a brilliant combination of peppery and clove-inclined Belgian yeast character serving to shape the main profile of this release, along with fruity and toasty malt complexity that really demonstrates the full breadth of what tripels can offer up. That yeast presence keeps this super approachable, properly dry, and packed with expressive spice and white-pepper notes. The softly herbaceous, mineral hoppiness helps too. There’s plush, ripe fruitiness all throughout that’s never overbearing: touches of cherry, apple, currant, and berries, with surprising amounts of fruity depth overall. Hints of lemon and toasted almond.
The 8% ABV of this bottling remains subtly tucked away, with only a touch of warmth along the perimeter after this is allowed to warm up in our glasses quite a bit. This tripel from Fort Lapin might seem a touch restrained when first poured—but with just a bit of time to warm this shows itself to be a beautiful, world-class Belgian tripel with a ton to offer, rivalling the very best examples we’ve gotten to try over the years. Potent toastiness, bread, and very soft touches of caramelized sugar keep this super round overall, and we found so much to enjoy about this beer. Lasting finish of tree fruit, white pepper, and toasty clove; consistently dry.
The 8% ABV and refermentation in the bottle suggests that this one should continue to age gracefully with some cellaring. Those early impacts of herbaceous, mineral-laden hops will fade a bit with time, and we’re kind of inclined to enjoy this one on the fresh side overall, but it should have a decent bit of longevity. For food pairings: that combo of effervescent bubbles and peppery yeast, along with rich, fruity malt complexity gives this a lot of versatility. We’d aim for steamed mussels and frites, complex and creamy cheeses, roasted chicken or turkey with herbs, etc. This style plays very nicely alongside a wide range of pairings.
Brouwerij Fort Lapin is pretty new on our radar, although the small brewery has been quietly building a reputation over in Belgium. The brewery was first established around the end of 2011 and was founded by Kristof Vandenbussche, who practiced his craft and honed new recipes as a homebrewer while running his own company as a heating engineer. He turned to brewing full-time a little over a decade ago, slowly building the brewery up to its current size, producing around 3,000 hectoliters annually (a little beyond 2,500 barrels a year). Brouwerij Fort Lapin is located approximately ten minutes from the city center of Bruges, just across the water to the northeast. The brewery takes its name from the historical fort of the same name, originally built in 1664, that was designed to protect the commercial hub of Bruges.
We’ve gotten to sample through a number of Kristof’s small-batch releases, and we found the brewery and his manner to be refreshingly matter-of-fact: dedicated to brewing delicious and beautifully detailed Belgian styles, without a lot of accompanying fanfare. It’s the quality of his ingredients and the effort that went into recipe development that truly impressed us.
Kristof tends to avoid brewing extreme beers in favor of well-balanced renditions of more traditional Belgian styles. Fort Lapin has offered a variety of tripels over the years (including the first beer they ever released), along the dubbel style, quadrupel, a cherry-driven kriek, a Belgian wheat beer with healthy additions of cumin and coriander seeds, an amber brewed with hibiscus flowers, and the seasonal Snowlapin: a darker beer brewed with winter spices such as star anise, cloves, and cinnamon. Kristof focuses on sourcing the highest quality of ingredients for each batch, based on home-made recipes, with everything produced on-site at the brewery. He uses exclusively Belgian hops, working with his hop farmer to select the best options from each harvest, and everything is brewed in small batches. The Fort Lapin beers currently see a modest amount of distribution across Europe as well as in Japan, and they’ve done one round of imports into the U.S. so far. For our two featured Rare Beer Club offerings this month, we’re excited to have two Fort Lapin beers imported just for the club.
For those of you traveling out to Belgium anytime soon, Brouwerij Fort Lapin has an on-site tasting room that’s currently open every Saturday from 10am to 6pm, along with a beer shop that’s open Tuesday through Saturday during those same hours. Beers can also be purchased online, and brewery tours are available by appointment, with a cost of 9 Euros per person. A brewery bed and breakfast is also available (the B&B Brouwhuys), with three bedrooms and a sumptuous breakfast served each morning. It’s a short, fifteen-minute walk from the main square in the historical heart of Bruges. Learn more (or book a visit), at fortlapin.com/en/.
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