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Brewing a Hoppier Belgian Tripel with De Ranke

One of Belgium’s most distinctive tripels leans in a more bitter, aromatic direction. Inspired by Orval as much as Westmalle, De Ranke Guldenberg is a contemporary classic. Here, Joe Stange speaks with cofounder Nino Bacelle about its origins and makings.

Joe Stange Apr 4, 2021 - 7 min read

Brewing a Hoppier Belgian Tripel with De Ranke Primary Image

One of the subplots in the story of Belgian tripel is that most examples don’t quite follow the original script. Even in Belgium, tripels tend to be sweeter, softer, and spicier than the Trappist archetype from Westmalle—whose balancing bitterness can be surprising, especially when fresh.

Much like the United States—but on a smaller scale—Belgium had waves of small, independent breweries appear over the past 40 years. Meeting the niche demand for strong specialty beers, many of those breweries made and continue to make tripels. While there are some fun deviations, most follow that softer, sweeter, spicier path (think Tripel Karmeliet).

A handful of others took another road—hoppier and drier—to arguably wind up somewhere nearer to Westmalle Abbey, whose famous Tripel clocks in at about 39 IBUs. Examples of this approach include Jambe-de-Bois from Brasserie de la Senne (about 45 IBUs, packed with floral-spicy German hops) and La Rulles Triple (39 IBUs, with some citrus zing via Yakima-grown Amarillo).

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