Duvel Moortgat, Tripel Hop 2013 - 9.5%, £3.90
This is necessary to ensure that their flagship brand remains vital and interesting for those beer-geeks who like to seek out every last permutation and special edition of a beer (I confess to sometimes being guilty of that).
This year’s vintage acts as a showcase for the lemongrass love-or-loathe hop Sorachi Ace in the context of a Belgian ale – it might well convert a few people, who knows?
Duvel Tripel Hop pours a delightful, hazy lemon-yellow with a voluminous white head oozing out of the glass. The aroma has a distinctive mango/catty savour, like many highly-hopped American IPAs, but without the abrasive pine or lemony sharpness that can be a little much at times. The pepper and spice lent by Duvel’s yeast and noble hop content add a delicate contrast and provide some welcome complexity.
The body is light with a zesty carbonation, complemented wonderfully by the lemon and honey combination of malted barley and Sorachi Ace’s signature flavour.
A touch of nutmeg and clove from the yeast adds creaminess, preventing Tripel Hop running bone-dry on the palate. Instead it remains refreshing, with a lovely mango-sorbet finish punctuated by a tingle of cut grass and black pepper in the finish.
Not the most direct showcase for Sorachi Ace, but proof positive of its versatility and its delicacy when handled with care – even Sorachi-haters will find it hard to find fault here.
By Michael Bates, Trembling Madness in Stonegate, York