Beer Review: Brakspear Triple

THIS is Brakspear Triple. From ASDA in London’s Isle of Dog, it’s the first Brakspear I’ve tried. And boy, have I thrown myself into the deep-end.

Brakspear Triple bottle

You just know that it’s going to be something special. Something backed-up when you look at the neck-label.

Brakspear Triple front of neck label

On the sides of the classy “Brakspear III’ logo is an award.

Brakspear Triple award side of neck label

Brakspear Triple was “Silver Medal Winner” at “The Brewing Industry International Awards 2005”. And that raises my expectations one notch higher.

Down on the front-label, and Brakspear have taken to the trend of putting their back-label on the front.

Brakspear Triple front label

It’s not bad. You just feel that an olde roundel would fit better, if you know what I mean. Especially as it’s “Since 1779”.

The bee logo is a mystery to me. There’s probably some sort of funny story about it online, but I haven’t got that far yet. So it’ll remain a mystery for now. Unless you’re a rule-breaking reader who scrolls down.

Where a picture of some sort would normally be, you instead find a quote by the head brewer. You can tell it’s by him, because it has his unreadable signature by it. He describes Brakspear Triple thusly: “Thanks to the two fermentations in the Brakspear ‘Double Drop’ system and another in the bottle, this highly aromatic and satisfying strong beer delivers its rich flavour with subtlety and balance”.

If you’ve already spotted the big “Alc. 7.2% Vol.” and “Bottle Conditioned”, your hopes and expectations will be creeping even higher. Three very good things are leaping out at me from all of this. First, it sounds delicious. Second, it’s a bottle conditioned British ale with yeast sediment floating around, which is hard to find and turbo-charges that flavour. And third, it’s shaping up to be no compromise strong ale of the sort you don’t see enough of.

Down at the bottom of the front-label is another thing you don’t see very often. Next to the pretend stamp saying “Quality Brewing Tradition Since 1779” is a unique bottle number. I’ve got “B262633”. What do you have? Leave your number in the comments at the end of the post.

On the other side, the back-label continues on the, erm, back.

Brakspear Triple back label

No wonder some of the back-label made it onto the front. There’s not enough room for a single punctuation mark on here. In fact, having to work through it all is what put me off getting around to ‘reviewing’ this bottle in the first place.

Starting at the top (because you have to start somewhere), we get a nice and detailed little description. Plenty of ingredient names and brewing details for the beer buffs and taste descriptions for the rest of us. And it goes “Crystal, Black, and Maris Otter pale malts provide the backbone of this outstanding rich beer. Hope are added three times to provide a good balance between bitterness and fragrance. Then, bottle-conditioning allows the flavours of this beer to develop further complexity as it matures.”

All very interesting and yummy. Then comes something that elevates it even further. What you can do is use the bottle number on the front of the bottle and their website at www.brakspear-beers.co.uk to find out when the bottle was filled. To test their claim, I went to the website to investigate. I managed to avoid getting distracted by their other beers to find the Triple homepage at http://www.brakspear-beers.co.uk/brakspear2006_packaged.htm. Well I say homepage, it’s more a section half-way down the page, with a table of bottle numbers. A bit of effort reveals that this bottle was filled on the 26th of May, 2009. Interesting, but not the interactive experience that got my hopes up at the start of this paragraph. The date is also not that long ago. I’m tempted to leave it longer for it to bottle condition some more. But I won’t.

The comes the ever welcome sediment advice. This one advises that “this beer can be enjoyed cloudy, or wait for the sediment to settle and pour carefully for a clear sparkling glass”. Which shall I do? The Bavarian swirl for as much sediment as I can get. That should turn the taste dial to eleven.

Then we get to the small-print. It turns out that Brakspear is a Marston’s brand, and that it comes from Wolverhampton. That means that this bottle of Brakspear Triple needs only to be average to be possibly the best thing to come out of Wolverhampton.

Finally we get to a small group of symbols. First is the welcome sight of “CAMRA says  this is Real Ale”. Now that’s something you want on your bottle of British beer. For those that care, this 500ml bottle (why not a full pint?) at 7.2% alcoholic volume weighs in at 3.6 UK units of alcohol. That’s your whole day’s worth of units in a single bottle.

At last we reach the fun part. What does Brakspear Triple taste like? Will it be as good as I’m hoping? Should you buy it? Let’s find out.

Brakspear Triple poured into a glass

From the moment you hear ‘fft-chh’, things start going well. It’s easy to pourwith no massive head to work around. This makes swirling the bottle to get all that yeast out a piece of cake instead of the frustrating pour-wait you endure elsewhere.

In the glass, it’s a deep reddish brown that doesn’t look all that cloudy. The small head is cream-coloured and collapses to an even smaller, patchy layer, soon enough.

One of the first things to hit you is the smell. There’s simply no avoiding it. If you’re going to make a pungent beer, you better make darn sure that it smells good. And would you believe it; the brewers from Wolverhampton have done it. It smells incredibly richly. I’m noticing malty, biscuity and hoppy odours, though you can probably spot more in there.

So it looks and smells good. But what does Brakspear Triple taste like? The first sip is rich, strong and satisfying. So good, that I promptly follow with another. Gut feeling is that this is going to be every bit as no-nonsense and delicious as a strong ale should be.

A couple more civilised and noble sips, and I’m beginning to make some sense of the flavours and tastes. On the flavour side, all is straightforward. A surprisingly sweetness and maltiness take the lead here. On the aftertaste, that sweetness is balanced, perfectly I might add, by a gentle hoppy bitterness. One that finishes not into bitterness like most others, but into a smooth malty and hoppy combination.

What other words can I use to describe it? Well, rich is a good start. And full-bodied, too. You’ll know this, because it isn’t at all watery. Warm is another, which makes it a good autumn and winter beer. Not overly carbonated. Incredibly well balanced and extremely satisfying. Not particularly complex, but then it is a strong ale, so you don’t expect it to be. Like a good strong ale, it manages to be strong and satisfying at the same time as being easy to drink.

So what am I enjoying about Brakspear Triple? As you’ve no doubt have noticed, quite a lot. It deserves special kudos for being so well balanced. It’s sweet and bitter at the same time. It’s as strong as strong ale should be, yet easy to drink, even for the less adventurous. I like that it’s bottle conditioned. I like how many good ingredients are in it, all of which add up to a quality and drinkability that you notice. In fact, I’m nearly at the bottom of the glass, and wishing there was more to go.

What am I not enjoying about Brakspear Triple? I don’t like that it’s so hard to find in shops. Not picking here, it is a beer drinkers beer. Sure, it’s more accessible than any strong ale I’ve ever tried, but lager and alcopop drinkers won’t be making the switch to this one. And maybe a bit more complexity would add something. But this are tiny gripes.

To surmise, Brakspear Triple is one of the best strong ales I’ve tried. Which, admittedly, isn’t a lot. I loved it. If you are an enthusiastic beer drinker or just want a high-quality, no-nonsense ale, Brakspear Triple deserves to be on your shopping list.

Rating: 4.5

Have you tried Brakspear Triple? What did you think of it?

Leave your opinions, corrections, recommendations, places to buy and other tomfoolery here in the comments.

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12 Responses to “Beer Review: Brakspear Triple”

  1. VaporGuy Says:

    Have tried this and while a great beer, there are others on your blog that fit my taste better. Would rate as a 3.5 from my experiance.

  2. Clive Mountney Says:

    I have drunk this a few times in the past, but tonight I thought I would try it after a bottle of Fuller’s Winter Ale, as a comparison, and I am still more than happy with the Brakspears, it is a lovely ale, leaves the Winter standing, even though I am a Fullers supporter.
    For the strength (7.2%) it is still not too sweet, for me this is what a strong ale really should taste like!

  3. KiwiWilly Says:

    Not sure why but I selected this beer to have with my lunch in Auckland on a day that was 24 degrees celcius and 94% humidity. Anyway, I found it to be mouth watering and delicious. Easy to drink and it washed my ham sandwhich down a treat. Fruity, with loads of malt and a nice bitter edge. Strength is excellent and marries well with a toffee and apple pie flavours. Excellent.

  4. Greybeard Says:

    I’m with KiwiWilly here. Usually, (not always) I avoid anything much above 5.8% but as there was a special offer on, I took a few bottles. I later went back for more. If there is any beer that is more suited to a winter’s evening, I have yet to drink it. It’s almost worth going out, getting cold, and coming back in to drink it in front of a fire.

    The depth of taste plus the roundedness of the after taste (plus 7.5% ABV) induces a mellowness and grants the drinker a worldly wisdom. (Two grants time-travel.)

    Everyone should have a bottle of this before they reach senility.

  5. D Carter Says:

    Hellothere

    Great review. Great beer. But it is not brewed at wovlerhamton/marstons they just own wychwood brewery which is where Brakspaer Triple is brewed

  6. adrian boliston Says:

    This has got to be one of the best bottles ales!

    I’m a bit of a fan of brakspear gold, but triple is the business!

  7. Brads39 Says:

    3 for £4 at Asda currently.

  8. StackLad Says:

    Just Enjoyed the fruits of asdas 3 for £4 on this fine ale – indeed a finely balanced piece of magic – The only problem is its drinkability which is making it harder to savour!!!! – it may be too addictive!!

    been into ales with higher abv’s lately and this one ticks all the boxes

    Witney in Oxfordshire was a nice place to visit too – only wish i knew they brewed this stuff last time i was down there visiting the Wurlitzer place on business!!

  9. Gregory Burgess Says:

    Hywel is the guvnor!
    Great beer btw!

  10. Ian Timothy Says:

    Love it, I like to drink it in a heavy wine glass with roast beef !!

  11. Ian Says:

    Found and purchased by chance In Sainsburys, Crystal Palace-not on offer-only bought two-wish I’d bought four-would return for this one-love the balance of the bitterly dry mellow depth of hop that sways with the sweetly singing malt of a grand old ale.Nearly new year-I could well see the old one out on this beer-it’s vintage, like my gibson J50…the old man in the corner sang…..

  12. delice Says:

    Thanks very much for this, it made a nice after-experience for my Brakspear Triple. It is the most drinkable strong ale I’ve ever come across! Delicious, and well reviewed! I was absorbed in your descriptions, which rarely happens, and was a nice surprise!

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