Beer Review 0486: Pisgah Tripel Belgian-Style Ale

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Pisgah Brewing Company is located just east of Asheville, North Carolina, in Black Mountain, and they have an emphasis on using local and organic ingredients. Once designated a USDA certified organic brewery, the company recently lost that status due to the limited availability of organic hops. According to Pisgah, other, much larger breweries with more monetary influence gobble up the scarce amounts of organic hops, leaving them no other choice but to use hops from sources that aren’t certified organic.

Nonetheless, Pisgah soldier on, brewing a lot of their seasonal and limited release offerings with local ingredients, while still using organic malts. Pisgah’s flagship beer, their Pale Ale, accounts for 75-80% of its sales. The brewery is rapidly expanding, but still does most everything by hand. Pisgah’s Tripel is brewed with whole hops and organic sugar, featuring fruity esters and a soft malt character. The beer hits 9.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) and comes in corked & caged bottles.

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The pour produced a large head that quickly fades away. It’s mostly composed of large bubbles and is fairly frothy and almost fizzy like a soda. The beer is golden in color upon first pour; digging deeper into the bottle, it turns more of a yellow color thanks to all the yeast dregs at the bottom of the container. The initial sample is translucent if a bit cloudy; by the bottom of the bottle, it’s opaque and is very cloudy, with a heavy presence of particles and sediment. River water — yes. Lacing was good initially but after the head faded away, nothing else appeared, and the head retention was poor.

The side of the bottle says tradition, and that’s exactly what we’ve got on the nose. Lots of bready banana opens up into spicy clove with hints of orange peel and herbal lemon hops. Underneath all this lies a layer of grainy straw and wheat; as it warms, a touch of macro lager comes out, making for a weird combination. Not bad, but nothing groundbreaking.

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The palate follows the nose fairly well, with loads of banana bread up front laced with sweet orange peel and candied orange slice. Middle of the mouth brings out a spicy component, clove, and hints of wheat that add a roundness to the body. It should be noted that when the yeast dregs were added to the glass, the orange flavors became much more pronounced as did the alcohol note; at 9.5%, isn’t not boozy but when combined with the moderate sweetness, it becomes apparent in taste. The finish combines both orange peel and candied orange with a burnt clove, producing a sweet conclusion that lingers and dries out the mouth. Pisgah Tripel is medium-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

This brew is pretty much a standard Tripel, and it’s meant to be. It’s solid and tasty if a bit too sweet and drying, and it should also be noted that you will need to prepare for war with the cork, as it’s a pain to get out. If they’d trim an inch off of it, there’d be no problem. I thought the beer became better when the yeast was added to the glass, so if that’s not your thing, you might want to try it here. A solid if uneventful representation of the style.

Pisgah Tripel Belgian-Style Ale, 89 points. Price: $12.00 US for one 750 ml corked & caged bottle.

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