It's another stop on the wide world of beer as Tim and I put three tripels to the test. A tripel (or triple, or trippel...depeding on how the brewery wants to spell it) is simply defined as a Belgian strong ale.
Why tripel? It's hard to pin down. My research points up to two reasonable explanations...
1. It's got more alcohol than a dubbel, which has more than a regular ale. Legend has it that this is where the "X" in describing alcohol. A keg of Belgian ale would have an "X" for a regular ale, "XX" on the keg for the next level of strength, and "XXX" for the strongest.
2. It uses triple the amount of malt in the fermentation...this is the description New Belgium Brewery uses on their entry, so I'd give that some credence too.
Today, we've got a true Belgian Abbey Tripel in the Petrus Gouden Tripel and two American contenders. New Belgium...you might be familiar with their Fat Tire brand...from Colorado with their trippel, which they also add a little coriander to, and Andersen Valley Ale from Boonville in Northern California, near Ukiah and Mendocino.
All were very good but one really stood above the others for superior taste and drinkability...and it's probably not the one you guessed.
See the video above for the whole tasting and see who came in head and shoulders above the others in this strong ale taste off.