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Two beers from De Brabandere today, their Brewmaster's Selection. As with their Petrus series, there's a feel of something primarily made for the export market.

Wild Tripel Hop is first up. The lengthy description tells us this is "an audacious combination of craftsmanship and experience" and that it's based on Petrus Tripel, hopped with Amarillo and Cascade, and infused with something sour from the brewery's foeders. It all sounds a bit involved. Something had to give and unfortunately it's the hops. This does taste like a tripel -- apricots and alcohol -- and there's a sour tang too, a bit of a brash one and slightly vinegary. A peppery spice on top adds an additional complexity. Overall though it's a lot less audacious than it claims. Messing around with this tripel adds nothing positive.

So I was a bit apprehensive coming to Wild Quadrupel. At least there's no silliness with hops this time, though it is a quadrupel with sour beer blended in. That can't have watered it down very much because it retains a stonking ABV of 10.5%. Mind you, it says on the label that a full 25% of it is foederbeer but it's barely sour at all, showing just a tiny and modest little twang, no more than you'd get from a sour cherry. What's left? A lovely rich mix of milk chocolate, raisins and plum pudding. It's better than most quadrupels, hiding the alcohol well and coming across smooth and balanced. There's a dry roasted bite on the finish which is unusal but welcome. The roasted barley is "peeled" according to the label -- I don't know what that means, and it sounds labour-intensive, but it works. Start peeling your barley, breweries.

I guess it's good that experiments like this are happening. In this case, the lacklustre results of one were more than made up for in the excellence of the other.