When I talk to people, beer is a subject that does not come up infrequently. Because beer drinking is often a social activity and because availability of less-common beers is often limited to a certain store or bar, location and space are something that come up in these conversations as often as the topic of beer itself. Maybe it’s for this reason that Triptych, a microbrewery located in Savoy, IL, is still surprisingly unknown among my beer-drinking acquaintances. I figured I owed it to beer to evangelize in its name, and for that reason my girlfriend and I schlepped down to the-town-most-known-for-having-a-movie-theater yesterday and took some photos and notes. I should note here her important contribution in both of these areas.
Triptych Brewing is located right off of Neil (or Dunlap St., as it’s officially called in Savoy…), a 30-second drive from Friar Tuck (First rule of writing: know your audience.) Their name comes from the word for a three-fold piece of art, and refers to the three principal ingredients of beer: water, barley, and hops. These three elements are enshrined in the Reinheitsgebot, a law of the Holy Roman Empire stipulating that these three ingredients may be the only ingredients used in the making of beer. Luckily for us, Triptych is a little more adventurous in terms of its brewing philosophy and they always have some brews on tap that involve other ingredients. A great way to try a lot of their beers without getting too drunk to get home is to get a flight of tasters. Their menu is always changing and can be found on their website homepage. Here’s a what we got:
La Crescent Saison
Saisons are a type of Belgian farmhouse ale characterized by a spicy, banana flavor imparted by the yeast, a sweet flavor, and a slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Tryptich’s La Crescent Saison is brewed with grape must, the juice from wine grapes before it is fermented and turned into wine.
- Nose: Spicy, typically Belgian, hints of malt
- Flavor: The grape lends a sourness that blends well with the banana flavor so typical of Belgian beers. It also provides a nice counterpoint to the sweetness.
- Mouthfeel: Not watery, but not as syrupy as many saisons.
- Overall: Solid saison. The addition of grape must is successful and makes it more interesting than your average saison.
Love Bite: Sour Raspberry Ale
Both fruit beers and sour beers are much maligned, but for different reasons. I like both types, and beers that are both sour and fruit are my favorite. Sour beers are soured by the introduction of one or more types of bacteria, most frequently Lactobacillus (the same bacteria that makes yogurt and cheese). The most well known of these are lambics, produced in Belgium through spontaneous fermentation. This means that instead of adding yeast, they ferment through wild yeast. A beer brewed with raspberries is typically called a framboise, the French word for raspberry. In my experience many framboises sold in the US are really sweet. (My friend calls Lindemans Framboise ‘gummy bear blood’, a name he gives it affectionately.)
- Nose: Strong raspberry nose, like freshly crushed raspberries.
- Flavor: The raspberry flavor was candy-like, but not sweet. I didn’t notice much sourness, but the fruit gave it a tartness that made up for it. Slight malt flavor. Well balanced, the low level of sweetness and high level of tartness and fresh fruit flavor make this a fruit beer/sour beer that even those who don’t like these types could enjoy.
- Mouthfeel: The fine bubbles and moderate body made it refreshing without feeling too watery.
- Overall: I thought this was a great success. I could drink it by the quart.
Hoppy Birthday, Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots: American Barleywine
Barleywines are a type of English strong ale, typically with an abv of at least 8%, but more often around 10-12%. These ales are thick and often well-hopped. This particular barleywine was brewed with the help of and on the occasion of the 21st birthday of the Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots, a local homebrew organization.
- Nose: Piney hops, sweet.
- Flavor: Sweetness is not overpowering and is well balanced with the hops. Less malty than I had imagined that it would be.
- Mouthfeel: Barleywines are almost always syrupy. This is one is definitely somewhat syrupy, but it’s pleasant and well balanced, like its sweetness.
- Overall: Solid barleywine. Would drink again. Nothing mind-blowing, though.
Valentine: Cocoa Cherry Stout
Another fruit beer, hurray! Stouts are a type of beer brewed with roasted barley, which imparts the dark color and a toasty taste and aroma. The name stout comes from an older name, a stout porter, meaning a porter that was stronger than is typical. That said, this no longer really applies and, though porters and stouts are separate styles, it’s difficult to really pin down anything specific that separates the two. This stout was excellent.
- Nose: Smokey nose. Hint of chocolate.
- Flavor: The smokey malted barley is the most present flavor here. Below it are the tart cherries, playing a nice counterpoint with the bitter and slightly astringent cocoa nibs, neither of the two being overly assertive. Earthy finish.
- Mouthfeel: Medium thickness. The chocolate gave it an added smoothness.
- Overall: Both my girlfriend and I chose this as our favorite. The subtle interweaving of the smokey barley with the cocoa and tart cherry produced a sophisticated, multilayered taste that I hadn’t expected. Get this.
Dirty Hippy: English Brown Ale
Finally, a pint! This ale won a Silver 2014 World Beer Cup Medal and deservedly so. It’s a solid session ale that should suit almost everyone.
- Nose: Slightly hopped.
- Flavor: Toasty and malty. Finish is bitter and dry, almost lager-like.
- Mouthfeel: Refreshing carbonation. Good body for an ale of its style and with only 3.1% abv.
- Overall: This is the perfect session ale. Also, it’d go great with a meal. Also, it’d be great to have after working outside. Also, it’d be great after coming home from work. Whenever, really.
Triptych is one of the many local businesses helping to make CU the vibrant, interesting community it is. Beer drinkers in CU can rest assured, they’re doing well. In the past two years, their popularity has grown immensely; they’ve even doubled their capacity since December. It’s now available at around twenty locations in CU, including Black Dog, Big Grove Tavern, Seven Saints, Farren’s, and Crane Alley.
For the greatest selection of beers, though, the tap room is the place to go. They’re open Monday – Thursday, 3PM-10PM, Friday, 3PM-11PM, and Saturday, 12PM-11PM.