28 March 2018

Wild in the beer aisle

It's one of those situations where I hear lots of people talking about a beer I see every week in the supermarket and haven't tried yet. Admittedly it doesn't happen too often, but it happened with Straffe Hendrik Wild. The concept is simple: standard Staffe Hendrik tripel innoculated with Brettanomyces, the intention being that it will transform and develop with age the way Orval famously does. My 2017 vintage had a best-before of 2022.

When I pulled the cap it didn't gush, but I could tell it was thinking about it. The foam ambled up the neck and the glass was two thirds filled with it when I stopped pouring. There's a seriously funky Brett aroma, mostly farmyard but with hints of that sticky peach and pineapple juice it also offers. The flavour lets more of the tripel come through: honey and spices first, set on a candy sugar base. Very warming, at 9% ABV, and very Belgian. The Brett follows, providing a different sort of Belgian character. The funk doesn't cover up the rest, at least not in the first year, though the elements it brings don't exactly integrate with the tripel, merely accompanying it.

I liked this. It's a fun twist on a very decent tripel. I would, however, be a little apprehensive about ageing it. I'm not sure that letting the voracious wild yeast dry it out over time will improve it any. Though obviously there's a part of me that really wants to try it anyway.

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