This is the last bottle that my best friend bought me in hopes of redeeming Allagash a a brewery. I decided to save the Tripel Reserve (Batch 171) mostly because I have been experiencing a recent love affair with Belgian tripel style beers and was hoping this would be a crowning moment of glory. Before uncorking the bottle, I held it up to the sunshine to see what was going on inside the bottle and saw a beautiful swirl of sediment in the middle of a beautiful ballet. The shaped formed beautiful arcs and curves before making a nosedive towards the cork until finally it crashed into another swirl. That was entertainment enough for me.
Allagash Tripel Reserve pours a beautiful golden straw color and forms a beautiful head on top. I poured my first into a globe glass and the second in a traditional pilsner. There is a distinct difference in both the quality of the pour and the aroma the wafts from each glass. There was very little going on in the globe. The smell was fresh, clean, and a little lemony, but I could not detect any other fruit or spices. This being a high alcohol beer, I was expecting to detect this as well, but could not. My first taste was incredibly disappointing. I rechecked the bottle that I poured from looking for something indicating Miller Lite.
Yup, it tasted like Miller Lite.
Unlike Miller Lite, there was much more alcohol burn. The lemon flavor I detected in the aroma was gone and I could not extract any spices still. Something was wrong.
I remembered my experience with Allagash Curieux and went back to check the bottle for directions. It indicated that this should be served at “cellar temperatures” (60 degrees?) for optimal taste. I’m game for almost anything so I let the bottle sit on the counter and breath a bit hoping to entice the magic flavor that must be in there to develop. My second pour revealed a lot more of the same with some exceptions. In terms of taste, when served at cellar temperature in a wide mouth glass, there was a little more going on. I could taste the same faint lemon flavor and a hint of some spice I could not identify as well as a more intense bread yeast flavor. A sweet hop flavor also emerged in the second pour reminding me of mildly tangy tangerine flavored candy. The most noticable thing that changed was the mouthfeel. Warmer, Tripel Reserve felt thicker and increased its appeal as opposed to the watery, thin cold pour. However, at this thickness and emphasis on sweet malt notes, there is almost something medicinal about this beer and the warmer pour left me with a cottonmouth feel.
Allagash Tripel Reserve finishes clean and emits a memory of summertime with a faint lemon and coriander flavor, but I could not find anything I especially liked about this beer. Perhaps anything that reminds me of Miller Lite was set up to fail. You can buy a 22oz bottle of Allagash Tripel Reserve for around $8 or a 4 pack in the area of $10. The 9% ABV packs a punch, but for those of you like don’t like the blatent alcohol flavor, this one might turn you off. I myself am willing to give this beer (a different batch of course) another chance, but I can’t quite endorse this as an Adventures in Food recommendation.