On Saturday afternoon I was winding my way through Interstate traffic with the final destination being the Joliet beer store. I had to use my wife’s little car due to the Tundra’s condition. Climbing in and out of that little car is like passing through a hatch in a submarine.
I started scanning the shelves and spotted something new right away. It was from The Bruery in Orange County, CA. The beer was called Trade Winds Tripel. I could very well be in the mood for some tripel styled beers so grabbed two of the 750s from the shelf. They were moderately priced and this gave me a way to compare what I already knew about the style with this new beer.
The back label mentioned rice and Thai basil for spiciness. The rice, I’ve learned, was strictly for clarity. This from Beer Advocate:
Rice is currently the second most widely used adjunct material in the U.S. in the production of light-colored lager beers. Rice has almost no taste of its own, which is regarded as a positive characteristic since the rice will not interfere with the basic malt character of the beer. It promotes dry, crisp, and snappy flavors and is employed in several premium brands.
The Thai basil is a spice that I’m completely unfamiliar with. I doubt if it adds any heat to the beer but rather contributes to the inherent spiciness in the tripel style.
I wasn’t really ready for some weird tripel that tasted like it was brewed on Uranus. I wanted what I knew about, yellow, somewhat sweet beer with a tad bit of spice. Belgian in character. I was hoping I found just that.
The beer was chilled for almost five hours and the time came to drink. The beer and I were ready.
The liquid poured golden yellow and brought up a nice big white creamy foam head. Carbonation was hard to see due to the translucency of the beer. The aroma was that of a typical tripel, sweet and a bit of spice.
The first sip presented me with a great medium mouthfeel and a boatload of taste. It was something special for sure. This was a tripel to the nth degree. Tons of sweetness and great taste. Even at the swallow there was a very slight implication of good old beery-ness. Yeah, that last of the swallow tasted like straight beer.
It could very well be a “guilt” beer, where it tastes so good you feel guilty about it. Beer shouldn’t taste this good, but this one does. Right now I’m thinking of a side by side taste comparison with this beer and Duvel.
I’m not going to wax poetic on the awesome taste of this beer but I’d say that it’s the best beer of the style that I’ve ever tasted. All the stats are met and met with style and panache. Surprisingly, this beer was brewed with rice for clarity and some Thai basil for a bit of spice. How’d the brewers chose this combination must be the product of many test runs and many meetings.
This Trade winds tripel is one that will stick in my memory for quite some time. It’s classified as a seasonal beer on the brewery’s website. When the season begins and ends I don’t know. But I found it on the shelf today, it may be still available in your area.
Trade Winds is a world class beer. I urge you to pick up a couple of 750s the next time you’re in the mood for something new.
Style: Belgian Tripel
Taste: Nice and sweet with a great body.
Smoothness: Easy going; no surprises.
Drinkability: One is not enough; three may be too much.
Bang for the buck: Good price for the massive taste.
Amount paid: $9.99 per 750ml bottle.
Get it again? Oh yeah. For sure.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) They all smell like citrus rind. (sip) This one tastes pretty much like that too. (sip) You get a little bitter at first and then it’s just kinda there. (If it’s not chocolate, it’s crap!)
The Bruery Tour [5:37]