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Beer Reviews

Tripel Nova

Ale Asylum
Madison, WI

Style: Belgian Strong Ale
ABV: 10.0%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

So, once again, I missed out on the Great Taste of the Midwest. I was, actually, in Madison, Wisconsin on that day, since I was planning on being there regardless to meet up with a couple of the other Dorks. I had attempted to get tickets back in the spring when they went on sale, but once again that evil bitch Lady Luck had other plans.

I got up that Saturday morning before sunrise in order to make the long-ish trip to Madison and stand in line with other beer aficionados at Steve’s Liquor And More. But, it being a relatively cool morning and the parents’ Gremlin being a high performance but fickle machine, I couldn’t get the goddamn car to start. After an hour and a half of trying, I trudged into the house, defeated, and got on the horn to Jug, who lives close to Madison. I knew it’d be a longshot, but I thought I could maybe talk him into standing in line for me.

The phone rang once and Jug picked it up. “What?”



“I need you to drive into Madison and stand in line and buy Great Taste tickets.”


“Like, right now.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I just mashed in a batch of beer.”

“Oh. OK. Wait a minute … it’s six in the fucking morning!”

“Yeah. Why, when do you normally brew?”

So, that was why I got shut out again. But, being in Madison regardless, I was able to snag a four-pack of Ale Asylum’s crown jewel, the Belgian-style ale Tripel Nova.

It pours a hazy straw, as unfiltered as the bottle’s promo copy says. Plus, bonus—it’s bottle conditioned! The head, however, is a little wimpy, white and small-bubbled, with a short life, even after my recklessly wild pour into a Tripel Karmeliet tulip glass.

The aroma is pretty straightforward: spicy Belgian yeastiness. With a little time and warmth, some soft but distinct maltiness comes up to play as well.

The opening sip reveals a light body sporting a medium-to-soft mouthfeel. The front of the taste is crisp and sugary sweet, sliding into a pleasant spicy/fruity mix that lasts for the majority of the sip. The finish, thanks to a nice pop of (maybe Saaz?) hops, is short, crisp, and refreshing. Maybe a little too refreshing—Tripel Nova drinks like a summer brew, but comes with a whopping 10 percent ABV. None of which, I might add, is detectable throughout the sip save for the very end of the glass, after the beer had warmed significantly. So watch yourself with this one, folks.

This is damn near as good as it gets when it comes to American takes on the strong Belgian ale, popularly known as the tripel. It reminded me of a cross between a Trappist tripel—Chimay White or maybe even Westmalle—and De Koninck’s hoppy Belgian pale ale. It’s not quite good enough to rival those iconic beers, but Tripel Nova is still a tremendously great offering from Ale Asylum and highly recommended.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on September 9, 2009.
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