Last week I talked about the World Beer Awards and came to the conclusion that rather than relying on such awards it would be better to first look at the ratings at Rate Beer and Beer Advocate and then make ones own choice.
Tripel being a favourite of mine, I decided to start there.
Rate Beer gives first place to Karmeliet: the next best listed Belgian Tripels were: Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux (3rd); De Dolle Dulle Teve (6th); Chouffe Houblon, which I would classify as an IPA (7th) and Westmalle (9th).
To show that everything is subjective, Beer Advocate’s list gave 2nd place to Westmalle, beaten by the Canadian (Quebec) Fin du Monde from Unibroue; Karmeliet (3rd); St Bernardus (4th) Van Steenberge Val der Garre (5th) and Dulle Teve (10th).
The Dupont beer is difficult to find and the Val der Garre is only available on draft in Bruge so I settled for the Dulle Teve from De Dolle.
I reviewed their Oerbier a few weeks ago and was very impressed so I wasn’t unduly surprised to find it so well placed. To be fair to the St. Bernardus I also retried it, although my recollection was that it was a long way short of the Westmalle and Karmeliet.
Once again; I’m afraid, the St. Bernardus couldn’t convince me; a solid beer but it just doesn’t have that extra something. Everything was far too laid back with no surprises or great complexity; don’t get me wrong it’s very drinkable but if you had the choice you’d go for a Westmalle or Karmeliet.
So what about the De Dolle beer?
Dulle Teve means mad bitch and the label already gives the impression that this beer could be something different. It pours a golden orange with a big white head that slowly recedes to amanageable finger thick layer. The aroma is first malty sweet closely followed by an estery fruit mix (sweet apple,banana, apricot, peach) a touch of spice and a yeasty earthiness.
The good carbonation keeps the spicy alcohol (10% vol.) well up front in the aroma/taste and complements the fruit ; a chewy orange comes in additionally together with honey and malt. A medium bitterness (30 IBU) rounds everything off. Sweetness goes into the follow through but is held in check by the hop bitterness, spice and warming alcohol.
All in all, a mad bitch of a beer, which deserves its high rating. Perhaps, with its intensity, many would prefer Westmalle or Karmeliet but if you’re in to Chouffe Houblon as well you’ll rotate it with the three according to mood.
Happy beer drinking!