Belgian Castle; no, not a drinkable lager like the South African big-seller Castle (that would be Jupiler), but a typical Belgian bottled beer. The castle (Kasteel) is named after the fortress that also graces the Van Honsebrouck brewery’s logo.
Once the stronghold of the Count of Flanders, Robrecht de Fries, it was converted into a luxurious country mansion in 1736 and acquired by the Van Honsebrouck family in 1986. The family had been involved in brewing since 1811 but the real success story began in the mid 1950s when Luc Van Honsebrouck took over the management of the company.
Today the brewery is thriving and plans to move in 2017 to a 7,5-acre site of a former furniture factury in Izegem. The new brewery will have double the capacity (200.000 hl) of the present one in the centre of Ingelmunster.
The Kasteel tripel has a pale golden colour and a medium carbonation. The aroma is big on yeast – fresh bread, followed by spice and a little ripe fruit. In the taste the fruit comes out as ripe peaches with just a hint of lemon; the peach turns sweet caramel, then malt and bitter, floral hops come through together with cloves.
Alcohol (11.0 % vol.) is big and in no way hidden. Overall, the taste becomes a bit cloyey. The finish is characterised by a spicy warming alcohol held up by the persistant carbonation; sweetness diminishes and the bitterness fades.
Not a bad tripel but not great. A bit too strong for its type.
Happy beer drinking!
P.S. There is a link between the South African Castle, Jupiler and the brewer Van Honsebrouck: sport sponsoring. Van Honsebrouck, with its St. Louis range, sponsored Club Brugge, currently top of the Jupiler League, in the 1970s and Castle lager is the official sponsor of the South African cricket and soccer teams.