Today I’m taking on Goliath, from Belgium’s Brasserie des Legendes. This is a Tripel, indicating a high-ABV blonde ale with light body, and intense fruit/spice yeast character with modest hop bitterness. These beers tend to make outstanding food partners, and are highly drinkable for their strength – many marveling at the sweet fruity aromatics, dry finish, and cloud-like mouthfeel.
Most beers above 7% ABV or so start to become more full-bodied – you can tell you’re drinking a strong beer even before the ethanol takes effect. Yet, Tripels are strong beers that quite often feel like a Bud Light, and this is one of the reasons for their status as Dangerously Drinkable Beer. There is a not-so-secret secret as to how Belgian brewers achieve this ultra-light mouthfeel in beers that are 8-10% ABV – they add the Belgian equivalent of rock candy in the brewing process, a highly fermentable sugar source meant to augment the sugars provided by the malt. The hungry yeast enthusiastically eats this sugar until little residual remains, leading to a beer of higher alcohol, higher effervescence, and thinner body.
That’s nearly all Tripels. But not Goliath. Goliath is an interesting beer because, according to the distributor’s website, it is the only all-malt Tripel brewed in Belgium. That means that no candi sugar is added; this beer derives all of its fermentable sugar from barley malt. This should lead to a more robust body, along with a slightly sweeter flavor profile and less-crazy carbonation.
I always choose a stately chalice for Tripels; so should you, if you have one, as this is the way they are intended to be consumed. Otherwise, a good wine glass will do just fine. This comes in a curvy, winsome 750ml bottle to say the least! It pours a hazy gold with some fine sediment – this beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized. I don’t see the carbonation jumping out of the glass the way I do with most of this style.
The aroma is very fruit-forward with abundant overripe pear and apple. This follows through on the palate with a mild impression of sweetness up front, mostly pear and cotton candy. It’s odd, though, I found it sweet at first, but the more I drink and the more it warms, the drier and spicier it seems to become, with a pleasing bitter finish. It does lack the cloud-like mouthfeel that candi sugar gives, though, and I think I prefer that in my Tripels. Still, this is an interesting beer with some complexity.
The obvious food pairing here is moules frites, but any seafood will work as long as it’s not too delicate. A buttery, briny Florida lobster would be perfect. While this beer looks light, it has the body and cutting power to match up to some more substantive dishes. Duck, pulled pork, and gumbo would all be fine, and creamy cheeses would be a delight. I think it could even work with steak, even though that is typically thought of as the province of red wine or darker ales.