Regent’s Rye Tripel (Haw RiverFarmhouse Ales)
Style: American Tripel
From: Saxapahaw, NC
Brewery’s Note: “Our take on the traditional Trappist Tripel-style ale, brewed with 100% NC-grown barley from Riverbend Malthouse in Asheville and authentic Belgian candi syrup. Crisp, bright and refreshingly dry, this Tripel takes advantage of a malted rye addition to provide a subtle spicy foundation for the yeast esters.”
The bottle opens with tepid hiss, and the beer inside pours out with a slight ooze. It pours a deep, bronze color, and sits in the glass as an amber-gold color that hints at a rouge blush. It forms a smaller head of very fine, tight knit white bubbles, which leaves a regal cling of sheeted, tightly knit lacing as it recedes to a thin cap. In body, the beer is near opaque, with a solid coloring, yet no distinct cloudiness or haze. On the nose, the beer smells of fresh cut peppers surrounded with crumbs of banana bread. It smells of tripel. Green pepper flesh is nuanced with that rich banana cream esters tingling into faint pineapple and orange. While on the background of the scent, raw grains, bread crust, fresh cut hay, and even soft herbal mint bitters lap across the nostrils. It is not oozing with smell like some tripels, and instead is nuanced with splash after splash of esters and phenols, while hops and malt lovingly accent the background. The smell is restrained, yet hugely complex. They paint well with them esters down in Saxapahaw. On the tongue, the beer tastes softly of pepper/phenol spice mingled with herbal bitters. These slowly blossom into bready sweet malts alongside slight acidity which pops and brightens in the mouth, suggesting light lemon, lemon peel, and orange peel. The finish carries a European hop bite of bitters alongside that beautiful green pepper flesh, subtle hot alcohol, slight lemon juice acidity, and just a whole slew of different vegetal and fruity notes that I’m having trouble labeling. Suffice to say, the finish is hugely complex and fun to drink. As the beer warms, the spicy phenols on the front take a soft smoky turn, which I absolutely love. It’s nothing heavy, nor bacony, but its subtle touch adds just another layer of complexity to the sip. In the mouth, this beer feels medium plus bodied, smooth, with a milder carbonation, yet with a crisp snap, effervescence, and bite on the end that seems to be coming from the hops and alcohol, yet nicely balances the tongue. It comes across a little thin for the style, but looking at the ABV, it is a little thin for the style, so that isn’t too surprising. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left wet with a thin sheen over everything, yet no pools are found in the mouth, and a dryness is evident throughout the mouth. The tongue is slightly astringent and taught, yet the overarching feel to the mouth is neutral. Overall, this beer is delicious. It is a splash of Belgian saccharomyces in glorious, restrained beauty, nestled up alongside some great rye malt. Tripel funk, subtle booze, beautiful malts, and a great integration of European hops make this beer a picture of balance. I only got to visit Haw River once, but they have definitely carved out a space with a sense of place, and a beautiful expression of Belgian-influenced beer. Haw River is doing some great stuff. Keep an eye on them. They will be a big player soon.