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Belgian Quadruple

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New Glarus Brewing Company
New Glarus, WI

Style: Abt/Quadrupel

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

A while back I mentioned that if forced to choose which world beer style American craft brewers haven’t wrestled into submission, I’d say the Belgian golden ale, or trippel. There’s a few quality attempts out there—North Coast’s PranQster, Sprecher’s Abbey Trippel, Jolly Pumpkin’s Oro de Calabaza, to just name a few—but the true Belgians remain a class by themselves.

Enter New Glarus Brewing Company. Dan Carey and crew’s latest entry in their fantastic Unplugged series isn’t actually a golden ale, but a Belgian quadruple, the trippel’s meatier, nominally more alcoholic brother. If any craft brewer in America can hold its own against the best in Belgium, I’d put my money on New Glarus.

The brew, named simply Belgian Quadruple, starts off promising enough: the pour is a deep burnished copper, crowned by a medium but thick-bubbled, sticky head. Hold this one up to the light: it’s a beautiful beer.

After spending an inordinate amount of time admiring my glass, I finally take a whiff and am greeted by that distinct, champagne-like effervescence indicative of a quality Belgian ale yeast. Light malt, hint of caramel, blood oranges. Vinous and complex, but you could argue it’s a bit of a lightweight when compared to some of the Gordian monsters from Belgium.

The flavor profile is actually a little bit flat, but this could be just a byproduct of that extremely dry Belgian yeast. There is some detectable sweetness, like a true Q should have, but not in a malty sense—more like … candy sugar, with a hint of oranges. Again, not quite as complex as I was expecting, but then again, I was expecting to be married to three super models/virginal porn stars by now instead of living alone in my parents’ basement.

(Hint, if you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and the next dullest one is a spoon: when you brew a Belgian, keep in mind that Eddie Glick’s expectations can get a little high.)

ANYWAY, true to quadruple form, the beer packs a medium body—thicker than a tripel, but nothing you’d call heavy—and a very smooth sip almost all the way toward the end. There is a bit of ashy bitterness on the backwash, and then, zip, a splash of alcohol smack dab on the center of the tongue, a couple more tiny clues to tell you this isn’t quite the real thing.

So. Recommended? An unqualified “yes.” But is this a three-mugger or a four-mugger? On its own, a solid four-mugger, or even if you want to compare it to other American Belgian-style brews. But against Belgian-brewed versions of its ilk? In some ways I can be one picky son of a bitch …

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on April 27, 2007.
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