In Bruges there exists a famously hard to find establishment hidden down a claustrophobically small alley. Climb a few old and well-worn stone steps and you’ll find yourself inside a highly regarded Bruges beer destination.
De Garre has been slinging fine brews and grub since the 1700s making the old-timey ambience authentic and genuine. Imagine what history the bricks and mortar have been privy to over the centuries. Tales and legends told from behind the foaming mouth of an ale swigging denizen recorded in the dust now buried deep within the cracks of the oaken beams that span the expanse of the room.
Many come to De Garre for a taste of the house beer.
They call it a Tripel and it clocks in at a strength of 11 percent alcohol. Don’t bother asking for a fourth serving as they limit consumption, three and done. Brouwerij Van Steenberge is responsible for the brewing of this beast, Yes, the very same brewery that brings you Gulden Draak and Piraat.
Tripel De Garre is presented in a heavy duty champagne-style 750ml cork and caged bottle adorned in gold lettering. There is a special glass that they serve this beer in and it is very similar to the average snifter except instead of a stem it has a knob of glass underneath so that it might double as a paperweight should the need arise. Upon untwisting the cage the cork violently shot out and left a dent in my ceiling. Wear your safety glasses around this one citizens. Moving quickly so as to avoid a gushing torrent of precious beer, Tripel De Garre pours a hazy copper orange with a massive rocky head. This large amount of foam is in keeping with how it is served up at the bar of origin. On the aroma is alcohol heat, plain white crackers, bubblegum, and a plastic chemical note that reminds me of cherry flavored cough syrup.
The alcohol is prominent and takes front stage in tasting the beer. Along with that though are some interesting things. I get a chalky sweetness similar to SweeTarts, sharp white pepper and a strong pear flavor as well. The mouthfeel is very dry and the high carbonation level gives the beer a fluffiness I’ve not experienced in a tripel before. After warming for a while some toffee becomes present helping to lessen the alcoholic heat just a bit. Now I can see why people would make the pilgrimage to that historic watering hole in Bruges.