Ten Top Tripels: #3 Brewers Art Green Peppercorn Tripel at Sly Fox, Royersford
Date: March 8, 2019
The Story— Brewers Art was a part of the first craft explosion, opening its doors in 1996. From the outset visitors debated whether the big draw was the classy cuisine or the first rate beer, but we heard precious few complaints about either. It remains a destination brewery-restaurant and a required stop on a Baltimore beer crawl.
At one point, Brewers Art could brew more beer than the in house consumption required and it began to bottle the beers. Belgian quality beers with local freshness were a big hit and their small house brewery faced then had the problem of trying to meet demand. Their answer was to contract bottles at Sly Fox’s brewery in Royersford. We had some trepidation about the move; complex Belgian beers are hard to duplicate on different scales at different breweries. They were lucky enough to have the guiding hand of Brian O’Reilly, one of the most talented brewers in the Mid Atlantic to ensure the project’s success. We will be on the lookout for a bottle this spring, though, since O’Reilly has moved on to his own place in Philly (What is it with that city??!!!)
We haven’t had this beer in a few years, and it’s on our list for revisiting. It is, however, one of our highest rated tripels among the nearly 400 we have tasted over the years. We were also skeptical about the green peppercorns, but some of Belgium’s best craft brewers use peppercorns and they add complexity without getting in the way of the delicate balance between malt and hops.
We note from the website that this year’s version will be on tap soon. We assume that will be a house-made version, and it’s been a long time since we’ve tasted that. It’s worth your time to take a field trip — we might see you there.
The Beer— Way too easy to drink. Slightly sugary light fruit and inviting spice. It’s not just complex, it’s bewildering. Touch of heat shows the 9.2% ABV, but it’s remarkably moreish for a beer of this strength.
Value — Very Good. Most of the house-brewed beers go for $6.50 a goblet and you can cut that to four bucks with a visit to the bar during happy hour. This beer received one of the highest scores we’ve ever given a tripel.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.
To start the month of March we’re featuring our top ten tripels over the past several years– these are wonderfully complex and even delicate strong golden ales. At their best, Tripels are among the best beers in the world. At their common norm, they’re heavy handed, big-boozed and barely better than the malt liquors of the 20th century. Here are ten beers that could show the rest of the country how it’s done.
CAVEAT: The days of flagship beers, except for the Sierra Nevadas of the world, are gone. Most breweries have a handful of beers they produce regularly, but even the lists of “usuals” vary with time. Reviews posted here about craft beers on both sides of the Atlantic are intended to provide a sense of the strengths of the breweries featured and are subject to change.