Westmalle Tripel is a clear, golden yellow Trappist beer that undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle (9,5% alcohol). It is a complex beer with a fruity aroma and a nice nuanced hop scent. It is soft and creamy in the mouth, with a bitter touch carried by the fruity aroma. An exceptional beer, with a great deal of finesse and elegance. And with a splendid long aftertaste.
The Westmalle Tripel is indeed called the “mother of all tripels”. This type of beer was first brewed in Westmalle abbey in 1934 when the new brewing hall came into use. The current formula has stayed practically unchanged since 1956, thus more than 50 years.
This beer is generally served in 33 cl bottles, precisely the volume of the accompanying glass goblet. The bottles are sold individually, in handy packs of six or in crates of 24 bottles. And of course this beer is served in the better horeca outlets.
Tripel is also available in 75 cl bottles. It is remarkable that the beer matures differently in these larger bottles. The fruity aroma is somewhat softer and riper, and the beer gets a light touch of vanilla.
Jef van den Steen on Westmalle Tripel
“This beer enjoys considerable prestige among the public and among brewers. Strongly alcoholic, blond top-fermentation beers are not infrequently given the ‘tripel’ epithet, which means no less than the best in the series. The Westmalle Tripel can also be called the mother of all tripels without false modesty - a world classic thus. In the glass, the tripel has a warm golden blond colour. The surprising fine and abundant bubbles are reminiscent of champagne (this beer is also given the pet name of the champagne of the Campine). The head is white, fine, creamy and abundant, and after a few sips it leaves behind a fine lace pattern on the glass. The tripel is a complex beer: in the aroma, fruitiness (overripe banana), fine hop bitterness and soft maltiness fight for attention. The flavour range is just as complex: the beer feels creamy in the mouth, delicately sweet without coming across as sticky, and also fruity with a bitter orange taste. The aftertaste is long, dry and pleasantly bitter. Its hop character gives the beer an appetising nature.”
Source: Jef van den Steen, Trappist, Davidsfonds, Leuven, 2003, p. 43.
Bob Magerman on Westmalle Tripel
"Westmalle Tripel is a very big beer that has no equal in Belgium (or abroad). It combines a very aromatic fruitiness (fruity esters to solvents) with a full, creamy soft flavour and a pleasant bitterness. The fact that it noticeably changes over time is special. After three months the fruit is still very overwhelming, after six months the fruity esters are somewhat tempered and the hop bitterness comes to the fore. After a year there is a perfect balance between fruit and bitterness. Even later the hop bitterness ebbs away and the beer tastes too sweet. Wait is the message here as it does regain that balance: so it says in a recipe for a sabayon with a five year old Tripel.”
Bron: Bob Magerman in Belgisch Bierboek, Lannoo, Tielt, 2002, p. 208-209.