On Monday, August 15 the Twin Cities’ Flat Earth Brewing Company officially unveiled their Bermuda Triangle Tripel at the Bulldog’s Lowertown location.
Flat Earth Brewing Company decided to take on Belgium’s 5000 years of brewing experience and create their own take on a Tripel. What is a Tripel? The first Tripel is said to have been created by the Westmalle Abbey in the 1930’s as a response to the increasing popularity of pilsners and pale ales. While the Tripel is not a multi-millenia recipe, the Belgians had plenty of time to develop their brewing techniques, and Westmalle itself had been brewing for over 130 years before they created it. The style is typically a strong, golden blonde ale with a malt emphasis, spice and great complexity. Its higher alcohol content is created through the use of white candi sugar mash giving the yeast more fuel for fermentation.
There are various theories as to why it’s called a Tripel. However, they all revolve around the strength of the beer. One theory suggests that the beer barrels of the time were marked with X’s to indicate strength. One X on the barrel would indicate that the brew being stored inside is the lowest in strength. Two would indicate more alcohol, and three would be the strongest. Another theory is that the term Tripel simply coincided to the alcohol level being about triple the strength of a regular single beer (about 3%).
The Bulldog in Lowertown was filled with Flat Earth Brewing fans and crew alike, and the new seasonal brew was seen at nearly every table in its curvaceous goblet. The brewery’s take on a Belgian-style Tripel pours clear gold and produces a fine white head. On the nose, it emits pepper, spicy and orange peel, with just a little grass. Bermuda Triangle drinks surprisingly smooth considering the alcohol content of 9.1 percent, and the nose carries through to the palate and is met with even more spice and orange blossom tones. As the Bermuda Triangle warms up, it becomes more complex. The peppery phenols give way to the softer floral notes, and the grassy character takes on an herb-like sweetness.
The use of adjuncts like Orange Blossom honey is not traditional of most Belgian-style Tripels, but more brewers are experimenting with them. When done in a way that contributes subtle complexity to the beer, their use surely cannot be frowned upon. Flat Earth currently sources their honey from a Florida location in the Bermuda Triangle and plans to eventually source the honey from all three points of the mysterious Atlantic polygon.
According to Head Brewer and Co-founder Jeff Williamson, this tasty interpretation of a Belgian Tripel is “currently only on tap at The Bulldog in Lowertown, but look for it to appear at Happy Gnome, Muddy Pig, Groveland Tap, Acadia Cafe, Stub & Herb’s for sure plus some smaller places like the Nook… it will be available in growlers at the brewery until we run out, likely mid November? We are also looking to do a run of 22 oz bottles for liquor stores in about 3-4 weeks”.
Learn about upcoming beer events like Flat Earth’s release party at mnbeer.com