Piraat Ale is a Belgian Tripel IPA, brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge that I tried for the first time today. And wow, was I blown away.
Though IPA’s are the fastest growing type of craft beer, there are many different styles. American IPA’s are generally very hop forward and bitter, especially the West Coast variety such as Sierra Nevada Torpedo. Imperial IPA’s are higher in alcohol content and hops, but are typically balanced with malts, like Russian River Pliny the Elder or Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Belgian IPA’s tend to have a cleaner bitterness (is that confusing, or what?) and use Belgian yeast, so they are bottle conditioned and well balanced with a fruity profile in addition to liberal malts.
I find myself more and more intrigued by the Belgian style of late, since they are so well balanced and feature the Belgian fruity smell and flavor that couples well with the hoppiness. Troubadour Magma is a nice example of a Belgian IPA, although Flying Dog Raging Bitch is a American beer that really pulls the style off well.
Piraat really is a great example of a Belgian IPA that, while strong in alcohol content (10.5% ABV), is a very mild tasting beer, without that lasting bitterness that American IPA’s are known for. It pours from an 11.2 ounce bottle, a golden-copper color with a big white head. The smell is a wonderful blend of ripe fruits and malty sweetness. The taste is complex, like the smell, with the fruity flavor start, followed by the wonderful Belgian yeast profile. As this beer warms a bit, you can begin to get more and more hop bitterness toward the end, but it doesn’t stick to your palate. Rather, it has just enough hops to let you know it’s an IPA, but well balanced by the malty This beer is unlikely to please the hop heads enough, but I think it’s complex nature can be appreciated by a wider group of beer lovers.
I can tell that this will become a staple in my beer fridge as long as I can find it. This one gets 4 1/2 bottle caps out of 5 from me. I encourage not only the IPA fans, but beer lovers in general to give it a try if they can find it.