The Badass Tap: Victory Golden Monkey Belgian Tripel
After the fireworks of Dogfish Head 90 Minute (damn, wasn't that a good beer!) we're easing off the gas a little before the next big brew goes on, and that one's gonna be a whopper! Stay tuned for more information, it's something really special.
In the meantime let's head off to Belgium again, style-wise at least, with Victory Golden Monkey Tripel. If you cast your mind back a few Badass drafts ago, we had another Victory brew on the tap - Yakima Twilight, a dark IPA. Golden Monkey is a very different type of beer.
Compared to some of the more heavy-hitting and darker beer styles, the Belgian tripel can be overlooked by drinkers who want their ale to deliver a knockout blow, but, to continue the boxing metaphors, it punches well above its weight in terms of character and ABV. It's a beer that's loaded with both hops and pale malts, but both are kept in line by the fruity, spicy Belgian yeast character found in this complex yet subtle style. It's also a notoriously alcoholic type of beer and Golden Monkey is no exception, coming in at 9.5%.
One ingredient that's common to many Belgian ales is candi sugar. This is an invert sugar - one that's been converted from sucrose by heating it and treating it with an acid to break one of the chemical bonds in the molecule, turning it into fructose and glucose. In brewing it helps to boost the alcohol content because it gives the yeast plenty of easily digested nourishment, and it can impart hints of rum-like sweetness. In the confectionery industry, invert sugar is used to prevent the recrystallisation of sucrose where it's not wanted.
Ever wondered how chocolate-covered liquid centres are made? An enzyme called invertase, which does the same kind of thing, is added to the mixture that will become the centre, which is poured into moulds and left overnight to harden. This is then covered in chocolate and left alone for a few weeks while the invertase works its magic, breaking all those sucrose bonds and turning the centre to liquid, inside the chocolate shell.
These days you can look all that stuff up on Wikipedia... or you can do it old school by spending five years as an apprentice sugar boiler.
Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson