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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My god, it's full of stars! Introducing Belgian style beer month.

Welcome to Belgian beer month. This is going to be an April of beer adventure. We are embarking on advanced beer studies here. 

I've been spending the last few days on how I was going to set this month up. Here's the thing, I freely admit that I have bitten off more than I can chew with this month. Defining Belgian beers is a rather daunting task; there are so many different styles at play and every one of them is intriguing. Dubbels, tripels, oud bruins, Flemish sours, lambics, saisons, blondes, witbiers, get the picture. 

I could write a whole blog on Belgian beer and never run out of material, in fact people have! This month though we are just getting a tasting, we are going to do a very cursory overview. This is where we will run into a bit of trouble. The net we are casting will be both narrow and broad. I'll discuss the broad aspect first. Belgian style beers are now bigger than Belgium. Other brewers around the world are brewing these and doing a good job recreating the styles and adding their own flair into the mix. We are going to look at a few of them. The more contentious aspect is going to be narrowing of the scope of what Belgian beer styles we will be looking at this month. For the purposes of this overview we are limiting ourselves to dubbels, tripels, blondes, and witbiers. 

The why is simple, first off we just don't have time and second and more importantly to me, lambics, oud bruins, sours, etc. deserve more copy than I can provide them right now. We will get to them in more detail in the future. 

That is one of the best beer cans
I have ever laid eyes on.

Our candidate to kick off this month is Tallgrass Brewery's Velvet Rooster, a Belgian-style tripel ale. First a bit of background. What is a tripel you may ask. Well simply put it is strong pale ale brewed in the style made famous by Westmalle Tripel. Belgian brewers originally brewed this style back in the 1930s to take on pilsners. 

It poured a hazy golden color with a puffy white head. It is sweet to the taste with a low key bite, there is not a lot of carbonation to this, and it drinks just on the smooth side. You end up with a mildly bitter aftertaste that turns grassy at the end. Similar to a biere de garde in that aspect. This comes in at a well bodied 8.5% ABV. The alcohol doesn't show itself immediately on the drink but reveals itself in the aftertaste. One thing I noticed was as the beer warmed it seemed to morph from a tripel and by the time I finished was more like a biere de garde when I finished. Overall this isn't a bad thing but it was noticeable to me. 
This is a good effort by those Kansas brewers and worth grabbing a few cans (you read that correctly) if you can find it. 

Here is the "party line" on this beer

This beer is a Belgian Tripel that lives up to its name. Smooth and carefully crafted like a fine velvet painting, but with an 8.5% ABV this bird has some spurs! The beer pours a golden straw color with brilliant clarity. Topped with a lofty pure white head the beer has a wonderful floral nose, with subtle fruit notes. The taste is clean and crisp, with subtle fruit notes and a touch of candy like sweetness. The beer has a Champagne-like effervescent that provides a crisp offset to its sweet finish. While a pint glass is always nice, Velvet Rooster would also be at home in a tulip glass or Champagne flute. Something to crow about.

Want to go off and do some independent study? Then check out the, there is a lot of great info over there. Check back in and let us know what you found out. 

Have an issue about the fiasco we may turn Belgian beer month into? Let us know in the comments!

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