Published on December 19th, 2018 | by Ken Gargett


Montecristo No 2 (GSU OCT 06)/Gouden Carolus Tripel Beer

One does try and swap things about as much as we can for Kenfessions, so to feature the same smoke twice in a row is a little poor form (much like the form of the Aussie batsmen in the background as they desperately try and stave off two losses in a row to the might of King Kohli – and like him or not, that lad can bat). Rules are, however, made to be broken – just ask those Aussie cricketers. Anyway, yours is Monte 2’s, in succession. In fairness, this is such a popular smoke that why not? And when they are in form, as these have been, even more reason. 

But what is different this time, is that we have gone a million miles from the aged Dominican Republic rum matched previously and replaced it with a cracking Belgian beer – specifically, the Gouden Carolus Tripel. 

What exactly is a Tripel beer? Yes, I’m sure you know, but there may be some members out there not quite as familiar. As it turns out, the term is not as clear cut as one might hope. Some commentators have no doubt, while others are less convinced as to its origins, but it does seem that the name came from the Low Countries (just the moniker you’d be so proud to have) – Belgium and the Netherlands. Basically, the consensus (not unanimous, but largely overwhelming) is that it comes from the use of three times the usual amount of malt in the wort, which gives a much higher ABV, than a standard Trappist beer. It seems that the term was first used back in the 1930s at the Three Lindens Brewery, though the style predates that by a long way. Many of those from earlier times were far darker than what we enjoy today. The idea was to compete with the pale lagers from the town of Plzen (which is presumably where Snake Plzen came from before he escaped from New York – sorry, couldn’t resist). The name ‘Tripel’ came in “officially” in 1956. 

Gouden Carolus, our beer of the week, suggests that these beers were originally brewed as early as 1491, for the knights of the Golden Fleece, and yes, I’m sure I’m not the only one to immediately stray to thoughts of Monty Python. It was originally brewed for the local hospital as Charles the Bold (I swear I am not making any of this up) then allowed it to avoid taxes and excises. 

The high level of alcohol in these beers mean that some like them as sipping beers. Why not! 

The Gouden Carolus Tripel is recommended for drinking between 5°C and 9°C, depending on whom one listens to – for me, largely depends on whether one is keen for it to act as a refreshing style or as a sipper. With this beer, they have aimed for a heavier style. It is highly awarded across many years, including several trophies for the ‘World’s Best Belgian-Style Tripel’. It is no shrinking violet at a serious 9%. 

The brewery was taken over by the Van Breedam clan in 1872 and it is run today by the fifth generation of that family. 

For me, the Tripel was rich, caramelly and complex. A really good example of the style and definitely worth chasing, for those who like this type of beer. 

The Monte? A very fine example with some attractive dark chocolate notes, fine balance and finishing with some choccy cake notes. Some leathery touches. Good complexity. Very similar to the last one – this is proving to be a very fine box. 

The richness of both the cigar and the Tripel melded pretty well perfectly. Lovely stuff. Seamless. This is a very different thing from just grabbing a refreshing lager and guzzling it with a smoke. It is a serious beer that should be given due respect and matching it with a fine cigar does this. A cracking match. 


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