20 August 2015

Out of the darkness

Rooting around at the back of the beer fridge turned up this pair. I don't know how long they've been sitting there but a couple of years at least. Both are tripels from the Westoek brewery in Flanders, though they're quite different from each other.

Westoek X was just over a year past its best-before and took revenge on my neglect by spewing violently as soon as the cap came off. What was left was a largely headless pale gold tripel, liberally infused with yeasty bits. It's fairly inoffensive stuff, the grainy flavour more that of a Belgian blonde than a tripel, which matches its 6% ABV. The aroma has a bit more life to it: ripe pineapples, intensifying to whiteboard markers. It risks getting hot and heavy but the finish is quick and the texture light and breezy. Putting a bit of tripel character into a standard blonde is an interesting idea but this beer suffers a little from being neither one thing nor the other. And from being an antique too, of course.

After the pyrotechnics of the first one, I sneaked out under cover of darkness to open the Westoek XX in controlled conditions. Thankfully it behaved itself. At 8% it's only just within the bounds of tripeldom, and it's darker than most, more of an amber colour than gold. It smells darker too, almost roasted, but definitely bringing in some of the figs and plums you find in dubbel. I get lots of sweet sherry on tasting, but I think that's built-in rather than oxidation since this bottle is still over a year in date. Although there's a brown sugar sweetness, it's not heavy, and actually quite highly attenuated. In short, this beer is all over the place and not very enjoyable as a result. I'd give the previous one some benefit of the doubt given its old age, but no excuses here.

These two aren't great ambassadors for Belgian beer, though both are unmistakably Belgian.

No comments:

Post a Comment