Beer of the Week


Monks are so hot lately—what with the success of that TV show Monk and the film, "Into Great Silence," of the monk's of the Chartreuse monastery (that was so great to see all those fathers in designer cassocks striding down the red carpet at the Oscars right after Brangelina)—that it's hard not to have a craving for a good monk beer.

Westmalle Tripel

Which is why at my last visitation to the Whole Foods on Fourth St., I was moved to purchase a bottle of the famous Westmalle Tripel from our devout friends in Belgium at the Westmalle Abbey. As the website notes, this beer is called the "mother of all tripels," having first appeared in 1934 and remaining virtually unchanged since. Like Champagne, the beer undergoes its secondary fermentation in the bottle (the fermentation that creates the bubbles). It's so fruity and good that even my wife was impressed by it. Aromas run the gamut from spring flowers to freshly mown grass to apricots and pears. In the mouth it's impossibly creamy and smooth. One of the most interesting things about the beer is that it will, like a wine, change over time, going through phases of more pronounced hoppiness (when young) to fruitiness and all states in between.

By the way, in Belgian beer terms, the "dubbel" or "double" beer is dark and toasty, suggesting that the next in the series would be even darker and toastier. But actually the opposite is the case, as the designation of "tripel," which is the same word as our "triple," is just an arbitrary marker of style and not descriptive at all of what's in the bottle.

Yes, I drank this beer, but I also used a portion of it to deglaze the pan in which I'd just seared a chicken, and it worked great as a reduced sauce over chicken and figs. Enjoy.

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