My son and I had the occasion to be in Ottawa two Fridays ago sampling beers from the new Radium City Brewery at Shakers Lounge. It was crowded and very loud. After an hour or so we departed and visited Herman’s Liquors on the way home. They usually have a great selection of craft beers, many of which we are unable to buy here in Morris.
I scanned the shelves and passed on a number of IPAs and pale ales. One bottle caught my eye. It was from Brasserie Des Rocs in Belgium and the beer was their Triple Imperiale. There were no label descriptions other than the ABV and the best by date (06/02/2016.) I assumed that it was a beer in the style of a tripel. I was up for some spicy yellow beer when I noticed the label said Belgian Abbey Dark Ale. Double-yew tee eff. This should be interesting. I grabbed two of the 750s off the shelf and paid for them wondering what the hell was inside.
Some Wikipedia research showed the following:
The Brasserie des Rocs (formerly known as Brasserie de l’Abbaye des Rocs) is a brewery in Montignies-sur-Roc, Belgium. Founded in 1979, the company brews ales in the traditional Belgian style. Their Triple Imperiale, a tripel without added sugars, was the Chicago Tribune??’?s “Beer of the Month” in 2007. Their Blonde, a blonde ale, got first place in a test of 23 Belgian ales in The New York Times.Their beers are exported to various countries, including Japan and the United States.
There is an obvious error in the description stating that the Triple Imperiale is brewed as a tripel. It is not, as I found out below. And the establishment is a brewery, not a Trappist monastery, which is probably why they changed the name.
The image of the bottle on the BeerAdvocate page is different from the one I have. Perhaps it was last year’s label.
The beer poured a brown rusty color and brought up a majestic head of beige suds, tick and creamy. Inspecting the contents, I could see a whole colony of yeast particles. That made me wonder if this was planned or accidental. Now I’m not afraid of ingesting yeast particles, but this seemed to have gone beyond the “unfiltered” label statement. The aroma was slight so there didn’t seem to be any indication of spoilage. Here goes.
The taste was interesting. Definitely Belgian but more like a dubbel than the “triple” moniker on the label. Maybe they meant that the beer was Imperiale to the 3rd degree. Who knows. The distinctness had me wondering what two styles of beer this was made like. That would be a bit difficult without taking a few more sips. At no time was there a taste of alcohol and there was no alcohol heat in the stomach.
I’d say that the beer had many qualities of a quad but was not as bold and fruity as a quad. I could say it was more like a dubbel with overtones of an old ale. Yeah, that’s it. It’s an old ale style dubbel.
Over all the taste was enjoyable but not of the caliber of other Belgian style beers of the same style. This beer doesn’t come close to the likes of Chimay, Westvleteren or St. Bernardus. I’d place this beer alongside Unibroue’s Maudite, Trois Pistoles and Ommegang Abbey Ale. But I’d leave out Three Philosophers.
Back to the beer at hand. The sweetness was one of its prominent features having some notes of dark fruits such as raisins and dark cherries. There was a bit of crispness at the swallow but it wasn’t from the hops. That flavor was not present. And at no time was I aware of any “chunks” of yeast floating around in my mouth during each sip. As the beer warmed up, more of the flavors intensified.
All in all, Des Rocs Triple Imperiale is a very pleasant drinking experience, typical of the dark Belgian styles. Not too much stands out about it with the exception the rather misleading description on the label and the yeast in suspension without warning.
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Taste: Nice and tasty with sweet malts and dark fruit.
Smoothness: Smooth all the way down.
Drinkability: It’s hard to stop but you will.
Bang for the buck: Money is better spent elsewhere.
Amount paid: $9.49 per 750ml bottle.
Get it again? Probably not, but I’d drink it again for sure.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Expected it to be bitter but it isn’t. It doesn’t even have an aftertaste. Must be this cold I have. (Get well soon. There’s more beer coming next week.)
BeerAdvocate rates. (There are no ratings for this beer on RateBeer.)
Brasserie de l’Abbaye des Rocs [3:33] – cheesy