Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tripel Horse (River Horse Brewing Company)

There was a River Horse beer in our very first Beer Club lineup. I guess I'll never forget that. I also hadn't forgotten how pathetic and underdeveloped their website was when I went to look up Hop Hazard at that time, so I was sad to discover that, three months later, the brewery's online presence remains unimproved. This is a cardinal sin of marketing in the contemporary era. Seems like someone should be either hired or fired over there...

Anyway, Tripel Horse is the subject of the present critique. I set up a pint glass thinking I would be having an IPA. I changed my mind while my head was in the fridge, then forgot to grab the goblet when I settled on a Belgian tripel. Forgive me, O gods of appropriate glassware!

This pours a very hazy pale orange with foam that is fizzy, not billowy. The head is reluctant to build up and quick to die down. There was virtually no lacing on the sides of the glass as I drank. Very peculiar for the style. There was, however, plenty of yeast at the bottom of the bottle. The aroma evokes mostly tart lemon -- with effort, some sourdough bread.

The immediate impression is shandy-like tanginess, with prickly carbonation. Behind that, the sweetness of pear or white grape juice. Clove rides the warming wave of that 10% ABV. Overall very sweet and only a little sour.

I would expect much more subtlety and complexity from an actual Belgian. This was a bit soda poppy. After reading some reviews around the Web, I can only conclude that River Horse has detrimentally tweaked this recipe over time. For one thing, compare both the label and the pour in this shot versus mine below. There is no way in hell this is the same beer. My bottle couldn't have produced that much foam if I had whisked in a jigger of dishwashing soap.

So, my recommendations to the folks at River Horse: see if you can dig up that old recipe; fix the beer; then, for heaven's sake, fix the website.

From the bottle's label:

The muscles on our Tripel Horse are not from Brussels, but its soul is. Be ready for big flavors of our Belgian yeast, nutmeg and coriander if you decide to ride this horse.

Featured beer:
Tripel Horse

Honorable mention:
Hop Hazard

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