29 May 2014

Thanks, Hank

My goat is one of the easily-got breeds. The beer world and how it's described seems to have an inexhaustable supply of terms and trends to wind me up. Until recently, one of them was the style designation "Belgian Quadrupel", or worse: "Belgian Quad". While Westmalle brought us dubbel and tripel in the 1930s, quadrupel is a Dutch invention: there were no Belgian "Belgian quads". Until, as I say, recently.

De Halve Maan in Bruges were the first ones I noticed to spoil my indignation, with Straffe Hendrik Brugs Quadrupel. It's 11% ABV and the same dark brown-red as any quadrupel, with a thin layer of ivory foam on top. The aroma is an almost salty waft of dried figs and engine grease. Lots of sweetness on tasting: chocolate syrup, juicy prunes and a pleasant burn, like with fortified wine. And yet it's not overly hot or sticky: the flavours present themselves in a mannerly order and leave just when you're done with them.

A highly enjoyable dessert beer, this. Belgian Quadrupel: you are forgiven.

More prosaically, there's a tripel too: Straffe Hendrik Brugs Tripel. A style-compliant 9% ABV and a fairly normal orange-gold colour, with generous quantities of yeasty gobbets in suspension. I get weissbier-ish clove and orange peel from the aroma and bang-on spice, fizz 'n' booze from the flavour. The most amazing thing is that this has been sitting in my fridge for at least two years and still tastes daisy-fresh. Westmalle Tripel does not do that, I can assure you.

I visited Halve Maan back in 2006 and took away a memory of a visitors' centre that brewed two forgettable beers and outsourced their flagship to someone else. Looks like that may have changed.


  1. Anonymous7:16 am

    I've got a tripel waiting for me at home a present from a friend's visit a month or so ago. I'm saving it for when the World Cup begins (I know, I know) as the evening's sipper, and from what you say here, I'm looking forward to it!