The more craft beer that I drink and review, the more I find myself wanting to explore what the industry / hobby / lifestyle has to offer. Turns out, craft beer is more than just juice bomb IPAs and super heavy stouts. There are thousands of varieties in between, and where I’ve been most interested in exploring is more malt-forward styles - focusing on the one core ingredient in craft beer that may be the most under-appreciated.
Today, I’m reviewing the Tango Alpha Belgian-Style Tripel Ale from Tucked Away Brewing Co. - a veteran-owned brewery in Manassas, VA. I was drawn to Tucked Away’s “nod” to military service men and women while browsing the isles of Total Wine first and foremost because it’s relatively local, and secondly because of the bright red label. But, once I noticed that this was a Belgian-Style Tripel Ale I was stoked to pick this up and give it a try - getting a little more experience with this traditionally-malty style.
Cracking open the can and giving it a pour, the first thing I notice is the bright, golden yellow color that is absent of any trace of haze. It’s got a very minimal head that dissipates over time, and rolling the beer around shows a little bit of lacing as the foam hangs on to the glass. It’s a great color and pretty much what I expected, albeit a little on the lighter side.
The aroma coming from the glass was definitely interesting, and to be honest, this style is a bit challenging to describe when it comes to how it smells. Unless you’re a spice connoisseur, I’m sure you’d attest to having the same issue. But, what I can say is that there is a recognizably spicy smell - sort of a mild clove aroma… maybe?
After spending too much time looking at, and smelling the beer, I turned up the glass to give it a taste. Those spice characteristics carry through to my tastebuds, but there is a lot of complexity here as well that is a bit hard to unpack. I searched and searched to pick out specific flavors from the beer, and, beyond the spice characteristics, I can best describe this as sort of a licorice type of flavor.
I was hoping to pull out a lot more of that malt flavor that I was longing for when I picked this up off the shelf, but that’s not really what I found. Likely due to my inexperience with this style, it was tough for me to pull that malt flavor out which is typically pretty easy to pick up on with a Tripel or Quad given the quantities of malt used in the brewing process. However, after sipping on this for a while, and allowing the beer to come up in temperature, I’m starting to realize that the maltiness is definitely present, but balanced with the spice and mild hop bitterness. All of this coming together gives the beer a smooth, but slightly boozy profile, which I’m quite fond of.
Overall, I’m really pleased with this beer. At 8.9% ABV, I got the strong beer that I was looking for in a Tripel, and I was surprised by the spice characteristics that carried through from the aroma all the way to the flavor. For me, as I work to build up my proficiency in identifying different malt flavors, it was tough to do in this one, but given the boozy, yet complex and robust flavor profile I would say this is a fantastic evening sipper to close out your day. You won’t be crushing these in the backyard for your next pool party. But, from one craft beer fan to another, this is a fantastic beer to help broaden your horizons.