Halloween Tripels and Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

What supposed to be a small post-Halloween early this month turned out to be a simple sampling of beers. I had brought a selection of bubbly golden beers, with the selection of uncorking them in celebration of finishing the bar exams. The lineup was supposed to be  two tripels: Chimay Cinq Cents (White) and Unibroue La Fin du Monde; Deus Bier de Champagne and Stone’s Vertical Epic 10-10-10. However, because there were only three of us in attendance, we only opened the two tripels.

The first one was the Chimay White, poured from a 750-ml corked bottle. This was served a bit warm, a few degrees above the recommended drinking temperature of 13-degree Celsius. This made the herbal spiciness and bitterness dominate more. My companions did not enjoy it as much, but I felt that the complexity came out better, with a slight detraction from drinkability. This was paired with some delicious homemade seafood casserole.

I made the following comments on the Chimay White when I paired it with duck confit some time back:

It’s dark for a tripel, with the strong head particular with Chimay, even among the heady Belgian beers. It’s malty and well-carbonated, which cut prefectly through the richness of the duck and the duck-fat potatoes. It’s also just barely funky and bitter, just enough to keep the malt sweetness from being too overpowering.

La Fin du Monde needs no introduction. I’d say it would be the second most popular craft beer in the Philippines, next to the Hitachino Nest White Ale (which is now everywhere!). Again, this is your classic tripel, with an emphasis on the herbal and spice notes. This went down much more smoothly than the Chimay while remaining just as complex. The La Fin du Monde handily won this head-to-head battle. It must be noted, though, that the La Fin was aged around half a year more than the Chimay, if that was enough to have made a different, especially in rounding out and mellowing the flavors. This was excellent with the anchovy and garlic & cheese pizzas from Shakey’s.

The surprise of the night was when Mr. Gilmore passed by to drop off a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery’s East India Pale Ale. This is another rare find, as New York-based breweries no longer ship to the Philippines (until recently, we had Southern Tier and Flying Dog Breweries through Global Beer Exchange). The Atlantic-Pacific problem is one thing, but I guess we Filipinos can take some solace in the fact that even in the United States, cross-country availability of beers is rare outside of the bigger craft breweries.

Brooklyn Brewery, of course, is known for its brewmaster, Garrett Oliver – perhaps the most knowledgeable person on beer alive (since theMichael Jackson [the Beer Hunter, not the King of Pop] passed away). Was it worth the hype? Given the style differences, I’d say yes. East Coast IPAs are much more subdued than those from the wild, wild west. The Brooklyn East, however, stood its ground much better than, say, Victory’s Hop Devil. The hop bill provided more aroma than bitterness, but the latter was still there as more of a lingering presence on the finish rather than taking an up-front approach. This was enjoyable, to say the least, taken as an East Coast IPA. My bias is still for the West Coast versions, of course. I guess this is like making a comparison between a cosmopolitan New Yorker and a rugged California surfer dude. There are appeals to both lifestyles, depending on one’s personality and mood. The beauty of craft beer is that there’s a style for everyone. What’s yours?

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