SWEETNESS SERVED WELL for Sun King’s Afternoon Delight, a standout Doppelbock at FoBAB 2013 that deservedly won gold. The same does not apply to their Lonesome Dove tripel, though. Solidly amber with a medium frothy head, it’s stuffed with bubblegum esters from the yeast, bready and caramel sweetness from a surfeit of malts, and glazed further by aging in Pappy Van Winkle barrels. Too cloying overall and not half brilliant enough—in carbonation, lightness of body, complexity of phenols, spiciness, the list goes on—it fumbles several of the style’s essential supporting qualities. What phenols do emerge towards the finish arrive too late to contribute materially to the core flavor and are a little solventy and slightly grating besides. ABV is guessed to be around 10% and a little too present as slickness in the finish.
The barrel-aging, unsurprisingly, provides the beer’s finest feature through some smoothness and pleasant back-end warmth, as well as a little corn sweetness, maybe apple, and oaky crackle. Fans of brassy American tripels like Victory’s Golden Monkey may enjoy Lonesome Dove, but otherwise the more balanced Allagash Curieux remains the bellwether for barrel-aged tripels.
Served: On tap (Skyline Loft, FoBAB 2013, Chicago)