Well, the time has come again to brew up one of our favorite standard offerings, Reaper Tripel. Please allow me to elaborate a little bit on the name. First off, the word “reaper” references a tool used in harvesting. It can come in many different forms, sometimes it’s a hand tool, and sometimes it’s mechanized. In many ways, that fact allows one to visualize the evolution of the farming industry. In one word, many years of cultivation history flashes before one’s eyes.
The word “tripel” describes a style of beer originating in Belgium. It too represents a long history in brewing. An interesting element of that tradition is the connotations surrounding the monk brewer. Though brewing technology has certainly changed through the years, much like farming technology has, the monks still labor over the kettle like they have for hundreds of years.
One thing that’s true for almost all classic Belgian styles is that hops, generally, play a minor role in the flavor profile. In a lot of cases, Belgian brewers used hops for their preservative effect alone. Yes, of course, there is the matter of providing balance to the brew, but even if brewers added flavor and aroma hops to their brews the hops themselves were soft and subtle…simply the nature of the hops that were available to them. My point is that, as an American brewer, if you aim to brew a traditional tripel, you more less have to shut off that part of your brain that says “lets hop the crap out of this beer with a big, high alpha, high beta hop”. That type of thinking will not allow you to make a classic Belgian tripel.
But the thing is, in America, we brew outside the box. Here at Burial, we brew a tripel with intrepid, American lunacy – what we like to call, “maniacal design”. Consider me a crafty American brewer that dons the cloak of a monk but forgets not who he is inside. I wield big, tropical hops in one hand and Belgian yeast in the other. I steep pilsner malt, no doubt, but not the imported stuff. I get mine from Asheville’s Riverbend Malting. I add sugar to the boil, but don’t you fret, local bees produced mine. I let mine condition, but not in the bottle, for that’s too traditional. I condition mine on good old American oak.
So we brew a beer called Reaper Tripel. We suggest that you never forget the past, but always look toward the future.