I stopped in at Hamilton’s Bitter Root Brewing Co. this week and asked for a pint of whatever the newest beer on tap happened to be. That’s not my usual M.O., but it was a fortuitous change of pace. The newest turned out to be Bitter Root’s Belgian Honey Trippel. Belgian Ales are one category of beer I have explored very little, largely because I’m still warming up to the Belgian Ale yeast which imparts what I characterize as a slight sour flavor. This classic flavor/yeast is an essential element in all Belgian style ales, but does take a bit of an open mind when starting your exploration.
Bitter Root Brewing’s Belgian Honey Trippel is a beautiful, sparkling clear, medium gold color with a biscuit colored head and a great compliment of bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass. It’s aroma includes light malt, yeast and some floral elements, too. Flavor is richly malty, yet somehow manages to stay rather light and smooth – all with a background of that classic Belgian yeast flavor. The alcohol builds slightly after a couple of swallows, but stay as just a slight warmth. Mid-way through the glass a touch of candy malt sweetness comes through. The finish is dry, pleasant and clean. The color belies the potency of this beer. Even the rich, medium bodied flavors never suggest the beer packs in 9.69% abv. It would be very easy to enjoy a bit too much of this one.
Bitter Root added 60 lbs of honey to this 13 bbl batch, no doubt contributing to the clean, dry finish. The honey was sourced locally. The yeast is the actual Westmalle strain, the Belgian monastery often credited with creating the Belgian Triple style. The malted barley is Montana grown. This is an excellent beer and it won’t last long. Word has it there’s a keg at The Rhino in Missoula. Otherwise, make a point of heading over to Bitter Root Brewing Co. in Hamilton before it’s gone.