De Dolle's Dulle Teve 10 is crazy good
Since recently discovering the beers from Belgium's De Dolle brewery, they have shot up near the top of the list of my personal favorite, must-buy-on-sight beers. I'm a big fan of Belgian beer in general, but these guys add a little something interesting to already perfectly good beer that makes their styles unique without going over the top. I haven't had anything from them yet that hasn't been outstanding. Their name translates to "Mad Brewers." I'm not going to question their sanity, but their beer is brilliant.
In keeping with the crazy theme, Dulle Teve means "Mad Bitch." The story goes that the name isn't translated due to censorship standards in the US, saving our delicate sensibilities. At least it isn't our delicate taste buds being deprived. This is a slightly hopped up version of a traditional strong blond tripel ale. These are always potent, and this one falls comfortably in at a 10% alcohol level, so they aren't going to be session beers no matter how much you'd like them to be. Right from the pour, this beer shouts quality. The head is a massive white pillow sitting atop a slightly-to-this-side-of-orange, golden beer. There will be sediment, so if the gushing head doesn't hold you back, you'll still want to pour slowly to avoid the chunks of yeast at the bottom of the bottle. The aroma is more of a typical tripel, smelling mostly of bread, but there are slight traces of spice, hops and even some fruit that hint at the complexity to come.
Dulle Teve is a tripel so it is going to be on the sweet side, but this beer is special. All the malt and yeast from the nose yields to a soft, sweet flavor, like melons and a touch of citrus drizzled with honey. All the carbonation lends a decent bite and begins the delicate balancing act. The alcohol goes virtually unnoticed except for some warmth near the end. There is just the suggestion of various spices tucked underneath, initially cinnamon and clove. More are discovered as the beer warms. The earthiness wafting through is less barnyard grit, which can sometimes be off putting, and more reminiscent of country fresh air and sunshine -- if such things had a distinct flavor, this beer would be it. The main surprise that sets this tripel apart from some other outstanding examples is the hops that crash the party about halfway through. They aren't crunching and annoying, but just perfectly tug the beer along to a nice dry finish.
I tend to drink tripels on their own rather than with meals for some reason, although many of them pair very well with food. Dulle Teve would be an exceptional dinner beer. Beer sometimes seems to match well out on the extremes of the food spectrum. Some either go with overly flavorful beef and barbecue, or others with lighter fish and salads. The middle ground tends to get covered by any old bog standard lager, but I think this is a perfect beer for those milder meals of chicken or duck. A roasted pork loin or some chops would be ideal. But, it's also nice to savor it without distractions, to fully enjoy all the delicious complexity and balance.
The brothers at De Dolle make excellent beer, and their Dulle Teve is no exception. They take an already well-established style, but aren't just satisfied making a good example. They put just enough creativity into it, in this case by slightly beefing up the hop presence, and come up with a great beer that manages to stand apart from other great beers. This is Belgian craft beer at its finest, and they are giving the old monks a run for their money. It's a small brewery and the beers, though increasingly available, are still hard to find in this part of the world. Just be glad the Belgians allow any of this to leave their borders at all and snap up all you can.