BeerDorks.com: Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

 

Beer Reviews

Sapient Trip Ale

Dark Horse Brewing Co.
Marshall, MI
USA
http://www.darkhorsebrewery.com

Style: Abbey Tripel
ABV: 8.5%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Drinkable, but flawed)


Comments:
Did I say I was a hangin’ judge when it comes to Belgian-style brews?

In Eddie’s eyes, if you’re going to brew a Belgian—especially the supreme achievement, the tripel—you better get it right. But brewing a Belgian golden ale is deceivingly difficult to get right: it must be golden and delicate, but blindingly strong in alcohol. And woe to the brewer if even a hint of that alcohol touches the taste buds. There is no real hop profile to hide behind, just enough to cut through some of that sweetness. Too hoppy, you’re damned. Too sweet—ditto. A soft but firm body is required, too, yet definitely not too much body. And, ah, yes, those spicy notes, which come from the strains of ale yeast peculiar to the style. They lend a beautiful, extremely delicate dryness to the palate, and all it takes to ruin it is letting the yeast get a little too excited—and warm—during the fermentation process.

But what’s the payout for such grueling work? Money? Fame? Piss on that. We’re talking beer, some of the best beer in the whole damn world: Duvel (again, it’s pronounced DOO-vl), Tripel Karmeliet, Westmalle Tripel—beers virtually without peers. Successfully brewing a great Belgian ale is literally it’s own reward.

Sapient Trip Ale is Dark Horse’s take on the style. I really wanted this one to work. This is a relatively young but great brewery, and I was hoping that they would be the first Midwestern brewer to make me think I was in Belgium (and not Belgium, Wisconsin or Belgium, Illinois). But, alas, despite a valiant try …

Sapient is a deep orange, too dark to call “golden.” Part of this is due to more than a moderate amount of bottle-conditioned haziness. The head is fairly subdued, with a finger’s worth of sticky white foam. The nose is classic Belgian: sharp herbs and coriander-like spices, although not with the strength I was expecting. That spiciness carries through to the front of the sip, but … oops: there’s a shot of fusel alcohols along for the ride. When I’m sipping a Belgian, I don’t want one single hint that I’m on my way to getting hammered on a sometimes 10 percent (or higher!) ABV brew. But Sapient’s alcohol peaks through right away, even before it warms. The next sensation is thick malt with far too much body. With a restrained hop profile that would be normal for the style, the beer’s moderate spiciness and lack of refreshing acidity can’t balance things out. If Sapient were a canoe, we’d be in the water. It’s just too heavy and sweet, and that combined with the alcohol being too far out front dooms this brew.

A good effort, but unfortunately I can’t recommend it. I’m sure you’re thinking I’m a snooty bastard for a guy who hasn’t even been to Belgium, but this style demands a brewer’s absolute best.

The search continues …

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on January 8, 2008.
Agree with this review?
No
Yes

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

Want to know how healthy the craft beer industry is? As always, look to Portland. Craft pioneer Bridgeport announces sudden closure, adding to a growing list of PDX casualties.
Did Anheuser-Busch Chicago offer their shit beer to Cody Parkey before his missed field goal? Because that may explain why he "accidentally" biffed it.
Chicago now has the most breweries of any city in the country. Other things Chicago has the most of: murders, mobsters, and Ditkas.
Trying to spin it positive, BA releases end of year graphic. Only 5% growth in the craft sector when nearly 1000 new breweries opened? That's a collapse waiting to happen.
R.I.P. Tallgrass... another casualty as the regional/national craft beer market continues to get squeezed.
Wait... Constellation Brands cut all of the Ballast Point and Funky Buddha sales staff? They merged it with their Corona/Modelo staff?? We're SHOCKED!!!
Pizza Beer founder crying about failure of company, blames everyone else. Reminder, the beer tasted like vomit. Try having better ideas or making better products so you're not a failure.
It's Bud Light so doesn't really matter, but we expect this beer to be sitting around for awhile.
Indiana brewery to open with controversial beer names to "get the conversation going". Translation: taking advantage of serious issues for free publicity.
Hundreds of amazing beers in Wisconsin and the Cubs took back the one everyone drinks just because it exists and people have heard of it. How fitting...