Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Tripel Tasting and Brewing Workshop at Wurstkuche Venice (LA Beer Week)

Tripel is perhaps my favorite style of ales, so when I had my choice of beer making workshops at the Wurstkuche in Venice during LA Beer Week, the choice was easy. They don't regularly do this but they had set up their small outdoor area in the back for the events.

The workshop also consisted of tasting a few Tripels (because why would you make beer while sober, right??)

We started off with the Westmalle Tripel, which was also the recipe we based one of our own brew of.
The Westmalle originally started in the 30s, and the monks took it over in the 50s. Westmalle is a classic, the original Tripel, so to speak. The number "dubbel" or "triple" refers to the number of fermentations the ales go through.

So, back to the homebrewing course. The first step is to steep the barley.

Don't forget to drink while you're steeping...
I didn't know much about brewing beer, and I definitely learnt a lot during the workshop. First, I learnt that there are three hops additions when making Tripels. The first addition of hops is for bittering and body. The second is for taste, and the last is for aroma. For the Westmalle Tripel clone, we used German noble hops.

We smelled different hops to make our second "experimental" beer and voted for the three to use.

The higher the alpha acids in different hops equals more bitterness, so I voted for lower ones! (Doesn't mean my votes won, though). I don't really remember which ones we ended up adding.
Another thing to add is malt extract, which is barley that's been brought to a certain temperature to release the sugar and became this sweet, goey substance.

Throughout the beer making process, we continued to taste other Tripels, including La Trappe, one of 7 Trappist breweries and the only one outside of Belgium (in Netherlands). The 8% ABV La Trappe tripel is maltier than the Westmalle but still has traditional notes of coriander and citrus.
Tripel Karmeliet has 8.4% ABV. The brewery has been around since 1791 and this is their flagship beer. The carbonation sets it apart, almost like champagne, and has hints of clove and white pepper. Possibly my favorite Tripel!

To coat our stomachs, we had some pretzels with some special Bavarian mustard which was unusually sweet.

There were some sausages, including the medium spicy Austin Blues sausage, the mango jalapeno which I really liked, and the duck bacon sausage paired with Gouden Carolus. (These are just bites, though, so they're not enough for dinner and you should get something to eat before coming to the workshop)

Originally, the beer has to ferment for a while before bottling, so they had already prepared a batch of the Westmalle clone before so that we could bottle them during the event and took them home. Our experimental batch we would pick up at a later time at Wurstkuche.
Even after bottling, they need to sit for about six weeks before drinking, so I stored them in a cupboard. I had forgotten all about them until recently and it's been way more than six weeks. I tried them with friends and it's quite good!
This was a great workshop, fun and informative, lubricated by freely flowing great Tripel beers. We also took home about six bottles of the Westmalle clone that night, and will probably get more bottles of the experimental batch (as soon as I remember to call them about it).


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