There are few nights I look forward to more than Tasting Night. In fact if I had to list my five favorite nights it would go something like this:
1. Fantasy Football Draft Night
2. Poker Night
3. Tasting Night
4. Breakfast for dinner night
5. Silent Night, Deadly Night
Tasting night should basically be called ‘Judgment Night’. It is when you see, smell and taste if all your hard work is rewarded with a delicious brew or a plastic bucket of rank swill. Imagine if you went out and bought two cases of beer then waited a month before drinking any of it only to find out the beer was skunked. So now you have to go out again and purchase two more cases of beer but have to wait another month before trying it again. That’s what is at stake here. Now, of course, the easy solution would be to have multiple batches of beer fermenting so if something turns out skunky you only have to wait a week or two to try a new batch. Unfortunately I am not there yet as neither a brewer nor a Time Lord in order to have the resources, energy, or time to brew more than one batch a month.
Pushing my minor anxiety aside I grabbed a bottle, my favorite beer glass, and popped the cap. The first thing I noticed was the carbonation escaping the bottle. To anyone else that sound would be but a whisper but to me it could have been the home crowd of a World Cup match after they scored. This is one of those sounds that are usually only noticed when it’s not there. In my first batch I made the n00b mistake of forgetting to include my priming sugar in the brew before bottling. It wasn’t until a couple of days later after reading more about the procedure that I realized my crucial mistake. I then had the important learning experience of uncapping over two cases of homebrew, dumping them into a bucket, adding the priming sugar mixture and then rebottling. The batch still turned out pretty good but I was never satisfied with the head of the beer it dissipated rather quickly. This might have had something to do with the style of the beer I was brewing at the time but it certainly didn’t help forgetting that crucial ingredient.
So when that bottle cap popped off and I heard that unmistakable sound it was almost like my beer was saying to me. “psssst good job”.
The next attribute I noticed was the color. The brew changed my favorite beer glass from clear into a brownish dark red with a thick frothy head. As the beer settled I was happy to see the head decided to hang out. The beer was slightly cloudy but there was no sign of gunk at the bottom of the glass.
The aroma was strong but I was expecting it to be. This was definitely a different smell than I was used to. I’m hesitant to use the word ‘pungent’ because that word sounds like I’m being critical of the smell but in truth that is the best word to describe the brew due to its sharp strong aroma. So, yes, the beer smelled pungent but in a good beer smelling way.
After my first sip I realized a couple of things:
1. Yowza, this beer has a lot of alcohol in it.
2. This is probably why they are sold in those big single 750ml bottles.
3. CRAP, I forgot to take my final alcohol measurement before bottling these again.
If I had to guess I would say the alcohol percentage for these were somewhere north of 10%. Since I forgot to take a final measurement I can only go with my own personal ‘Asian Glow Early Warning System (AGEWS)’. The system goes something like this:
Asian Glow Early Warning System
AGEWS DEFCON I – (1 to 3 beers) No immediate outward changes with the exception of an improved personality and overall tolerance towards the little things like strangers and other people’s children.
AGEWS DEFCON II – (3 to 5 beers) Cheeks become rosy and beads of sweat begin to form around my hairline concentrating on my forehead. Improved conversationalist and attitude but with increased volume and enthusiasm.
AGEWS DEFCON III – (5 to 8 beers) Face is in a nearly fully red. Body temperature has increased causing noticeable sweating. Loss of volume control is imminent. Most conversations are now me overly excited and laughing. Noticeably slurring words. Usually is parallel with ‘Wife’s Annoyed With Me (WAWM) DEFCON III’ (NOTE: There is no ‘WAWM DEFCON I or II’)
AGEWS DEFCON IV – (8 to 12 beers) Face basically on fire, dripping sweat on people and countertops, Slurring noticeable to everyone but me. I’m only shouting now and I’ve probably dropped my phone twice already. Eyes are bloodshot but people can’t notice because they are cartoon-like slits. Wife has leapfrogged into ‘WAWM DEFCON VII’.
AGEWS DEFCON V– (12 to Infinity beers) I’ve turned into a fusion reactor that now only glows, sweats, and babbles in an incoherent mixture of laughter and drool or I have possibly developed a Jamaican accent. If I were on Star Trek: The Next Generation Jean-Luc Picard would be ordering Data to eject me into space before I destroyed the Enterprise. Most likely I can be found with complete strangers who are now my best friends or fast asleep fully dressed on top of the covers of my bed.
So following the system above after just one Tripel I found myself at a low level AGEWS DEFCON II with a slight tickle of warmth beginning to coax the sweat glands of my forehead to wake up.
As for the taste I found this Belgian Tripel true to its style with strong but smooth malty flavor. I enjoyed this beer but would not make a night of drinking them. To me Tripels are beers I would like to enjoy when I knew I was only planning on having one (*cough* one 750ml bottle *cough*).
I did purchase some of these 750ml bottles and plan on a taste test with them all. I might need some assistance though because if I do this solo it’s going to be work holiday party/AGEWS DEFCON V all over again and I’m only really allowed one of those a year.