I live in a beer-backwards part of the world: NW Mississippi (please no jokes about the beer category being the least of our “backward” qualifications). For sure, it’s less backwards than a decade ago when any “beer” over 5%abv was banned altogether, but here and across the border in SW Tennessee the same challenge exists: domination by a couple powerful distributors who aren’t in the least sophisticated and care ONLY about moving the most beer in the least amount of time. The reps are so ignorant they can’t even discuss matters such as this.
I LOVE Belgian tripels. I think Chimay White/Cinq Cents is Heaven’s Nectar. I wouldn’t hesitate to walk barefoot in snow to obtain Westmalle’s version, either. However, I cannot continue to feed my family if I continue to feed my addiction with $7 bottles of beer with any regularity. Therefore I’m on a quest to procure more affordable American-made versions. I have ready access to two: New Belgium’s Trippel and Victory’s Golden Monkey. However, both are cut from the same cloth - meaning they both are “coriander” heavy (a twist on Belgians that I really cannot fathom; in all my tasting of genuine Belgian/Trappist/Abbey ales I do not recall single one that ruins the style by adding a spice best reserved for spaghetti and meatballs).
I’m asking for help. And I’m asking sincerely and with near-desperation. I want an American-made Belgian tripel that features the lighter fruit character without the godforsaken “spices.” Some excellent candidates include Yellowhammer Miracle Worker, SPB Tripel (which unfortunately turned out to be a seasonal that likely won’t be back), and Ms Fancy by Avondale.
Can anyone offer advice? How does one procure beer not made available by his local distributor-gods?
thank you, jake
Travel to the nearest Total Wine!
Here is a list of the top US Tripel’s. I don’t particularly care for the style so I’m not much help. You might want to ask on Talkbeer.com, They have a very active forum section.
Trade Winds, Long Strange, Merry Monks are good ones.
Thank you for those recommendations! I really appreciate it. My problem is
that even with a great list of more affordable alternatives, the challenge
of getting my hands on them remains. I’ve called every retailer within 50
miles, and I keep running into the same options: New Belgium Trippel and
Victory Golden Monkey - which are near clones of each other and much more
along the lines of Delirium Tremens, with their criminal over-use of
coriander. I don’t know if they wanted to be a Chimay White or Westmalle
Tripel, but if so they missed their target by miles! Some American tripels
- the ones I like - keep the spice in proportion, but they don’t seem to
get the recognition afforded to those who over-do. Is that just an American
characteristic - that if a little bit is good, then a lot more is great? lol
Tripel Karmeliet has coriander in it, so there is some precedent and perhaps not really an American twist. I haven’t done a side-by-side but from memory the coriander is stronger in Tripel Karmeliet than in New Belgium Trippel. Might be a freshness thing though since I live in Europe. Either way, I’m with you and prefer my tripels without coriander.
Also, some other well-known Belgian beers use coriander, such as all three beers from Rochefort and of course pretty much every witbier.
Real Ale Devils Backbone might work for you if available.
You are correct. There is plenty of precedent in Belgians for the use of
coriander. It’s interesting that you mention Rochefort, because while I can
recall it in 6, I do not detect it in either 8 or 10. And like I think I
mentioned, Delirium Tremens is loaded with it. And given that DT has been
proclaimed the “WGB” and is generally highly regarded I certainly can’t
fault Victory or NB for following suit.
I’ve just got an over-sensitivity to it. If I can discern coriander as a
primary flavor I just can’t get past it. It ruins the experience for me.
That’s undoubtedly why I have a near-obsession with Chimay White and
Westmalle. If there’s any coriander there, it’s so well integrated it can
only be enhancing; it’s certainly not overpowering. I’ve had a few
American-made tripels that didn’t have coriander front and center, but the
availability is so poor I can’t provide much of a list.
Some found coriander - others didn’t.
Ommegang makes a couple good ones and are pretty widely distributed
And yes, absolutely…all this talk about coriander is infinitely
subjective. As I stated somewhere, the issue here is ME. I likely have an
over-sensitivity to the coriander, which is why the objects of my obsession
remain: Chimay White and Westmalle Tripel. In those I detect all that’s
wonderful about tripels, with no discernible coriander.
Jow you are absolutely right! I’m extremely eager to try their Triple
Perfection, and while not a tripel I REALLY like Three Philosophers.
However, with Ommegang one of my “conditions” likely can’t be met: saving
money. Three Philo runs about the same as the Belgians on which it’s based.
Let me state here I sincerely appreciate all the suggestions! PLEASE do
not misinterpret my persnickety attitude as indicating otherwise. And I
admit my requirements are relatively narrow: a very good lower-cost Tripel
that I can purchase in my area.
I wonder if the cost of shipping would offset any savings if I did a "bulk"
order from an online vendor or perhaps someone who simply has access to the
desired products? Can anyone comment on the costs?
thank you again.
For me the savings is usually in miles not driven back and forth. And my vehicle doesn’t get high mileage! I think shipping costs would likely wash out price savings. Keep an eye out for when you’ll be driving to some place where there might be a Total Wine or similar, and take advantage of the propinquity.
How much do you want to spend? Less than $7? And you live in Mississippi? Do they sell anything good there now? Your best bet is Allagash, they go for about $12 a 4pack. If that is not available in your area, you may be out of luck. Not sure how much of a variety your part of the world gets.
Your suggestion about taking advantage of opportunities when traveling is
one I’ve considered a lot lately. In fact, the only reason I know about the
two excellent Alabama creations I’ve mentioned several times, Miss Fancy
and Miracle Worker, is that I stopped by Maggie’s Bottle and Tail in Orange
Beach, AL on my way to Pensacola. What Maggie’s lacks in square footage
largely is offset by an excellent beer selection.
I can buy my favorites locally for that $7 you mention: Chimay White,
Westmalle Tripel, Rochefort 8/10, even a couple really good quads like St.
Bernardus abt 12. But at that price I can afford it only occasionally. When
I bought some American-made tripels in Orange Beach, AL (costing half as
much or even less), it opened my eyes to the possibility of enjoying really
good Belgians more affordably, and therefore more often. So when I got back
home to NW MS (I’m about 5 miles south of Memphis, TN) I tried to find a
good more affordable tripel, such as the ones I’d had in Orange Beach. But
all I can find is Victory Golden Monkey and New Belgium Trippel - both good
beers but over-indulgent with the coriander. I’d just as soon drink a good
porter or stout - and there’s nothing wrong with that!
I’ve wished for access to Allagash for months. But nobody within 100 miles
Given that Miss Fancy - an excellent tripel brewed in Avondale, AL, just
outside Huntsville - seems to meet my criteria for cost and taste, I should
just point my truck eastward and drive, stopping at every beer store until
I run into that distinctive purple can. At that point I can load my truck
and turn around! lol
Well, if you can get Ommegang products, their Gnomegang might fit the bill. It’s a no-frills tripel-ish unspiced strong ale that comes in 4-packs, but I’m not sure what price you’re likely to find. Allagash Tripel is certainly a good rec in general, but I’ve had disappointing batches the last year or two, so they might be off their game anyway. I’m totally with you on the type of tripel you’re looking for, btw…I like them unspiced, dry, and yeasty. I’m not a big fan of either Chimay or Westmalle, but in spirit I think we are looking for similar characteristics.
I’m a big tripel fan as well. Allagash’s triple is amazing. Green Flash makes some good ones as well. Other than those and the previously mentioned, you likely need to go for the imports. There are a bunch of good ones in Canada as well - Unibroue’s fin du monde is often pretty widely available in the U.S. Dieu du Ciel a little more and if you ever luck out, Charlevoix.
Thanks again! I’m putting together one heck of a list to search for! My
problem of availability remains, however. I’m going to present this list to
my contacts at a couple stores in the area and try to convince them to
order. I really don’t know what else to do. I almost regret my passion for
tripels, really, because it’s totally out of proportion to other beer. In
fact, I really have to admit I’m not a “beer lover” nearly as much as I’m a
"good Belgian tripel lover," lol. I do like a good stout or porter after
work. That’s true. But “liking” something is entirely different than the
near-religious experience of drinking a perfect tripel. I feel silly
admitting that, but maybe someone can relate.