LEFT HAND PRODUCES this tripel only rarely and a little according to whim, it seems. Its last manifestation came in 2009, and for its latest manifestation it’s received a label redesign (and presumably some light sprucing to its recipe). Perhaps the beer follows the spirit of the St. Vrain itself; called ‘mighty’ by the brewery, it’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to a tame nearby creek that flooded late last year. Hardly the Colorado River even at its worst, the damages were still enough for a relief fund to be established (see here).
The tripel named in honor of that waterway tries to hint at hidden strength (i.e. floods/a 9+% ABV) but in reality is too temperate and mild-mannered be much of a threat. It opens well with all the appropriately sweet and estery flavors of a winding creek—honey, tangerine, all the associations of Belgian candied yeast, green apple, and a lemony, slightly spicy twist from its Celeia hops (essentially an alias for Styrian Golding). But it lacks for the phenol counterpart (e.g. a little dustiness, clove, or medical twinge) that gives excellent tripels their depth and act as a buffer against sweetness in lieu of significant hopping. At only 18 IBU, St. Vrain’s is one of the least bitter tripels around, exaggerating its imbalance towards the front end. Too, it also lacks for significant alcohol warmth or texture in the finish. Structurally the beer is otherwise well-made, though, with appropriately elevated effervescence, good head retention, and a full fermentation that leaves the mouthfeel brisk and the finish fairly dry. Nonetheless, we’d all have been better off it St. Vrain had been bolder in the bottle than in its riverbed.
Served: 750 ml bottle