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Duvel Tripel Hop was a big deal when it first arrived. It was one of the first signifiers that American beer trends were making themselves felt worldwide, even in traditional Belgian brewing. Batch one, way back in 2007, sold out instantly. It came back annually, then, in a limited edition 75cl prestige bottle, featuring a sequence of guest hops. My only previous encounter was in 2013, when Sorachi Ace was featuring. Having gone from a once-off, to an annual release, Duvel Tripel Hop is now part of the core range, presented in the standard 33cl Duvel bottle. The brewery seems to have settled on Citra and Cashmere as the signature hop varieties, for now.

The ABV of Duvel Tripel Hop Citra is the same as all the earlier versions: a sizeable 9.5%. It's a while since I've had regular Duvel, but this does seem a little hotter and heavier. The Citra is plentiful, with a pine floor-cleaner quality to the aroma and a generous squeeze of lemon juice in the flavour. That sits next to the more traditional clean Belgian spice, but I don't know that it adds anything positive to it. Trying to look at it in a joined-up way, it's fine. You get the value from the American novelty hop, while also being able to enjoy a strong Belgian golden ale. I do think, however, that both sides work better separately -- the hops on a clean IPA base, and the golden ale letting decades of tradition do the heavy lifting.

That left me feeling sceptical when approaching Duvel Tripel Hop Cashmere. How could this have the beatings of almighty Citra? It's 9.5% again, and the usual hazy gold. The first point of difference is in the aroma: it doesn't smell like Duvel at all. Instead there's a luscious stonefruit character in both aroma and flavour: big peach and lychee energy, with a little white-tea tannic dryness. The alcohol, and the Belgian spice, await their turn, arriving only when the fruit has faded. I liked this a lot. There's a certain convergence with the tripel style -- it tastes like one of those much more than the IPA it purports to be -- but it retains Duvel's hallmark dryness in the finish. The Cashmere is much more complementary to the base than the loud and jangly Citra above.

I should be happy, fourteen years after Duvel first brought the sides together, that Belgian ale hasn't succumbed to the IPA trend and it remains a novelty. Would that the same were true for US-style IPAs and haze.

The latest brand extension finishes this post on a lighter note. Duvel 6.66 gets its name from the ABV: almost two points lower than regular Duvel and one below the green-badge one intended for draught consumption. It doesn't look as impressive: wan and hazy, with a greenish tint. The aroma is quite authentic, though: clove spice, honey and orange peel. The flavour profile fits Duvel as well, broadly. It's pleasant and very Belgiany. The alcohol burn is of course reduced, though it doesn't taste thin or vapid. And it's sweeter. The label mentions orange zest but doesn't say if that's a literal ingredient. I would believe it though. It's good fun, and achieves what it sets out to do, bringing four-fifths of the Duvel experience at four-fifths of the strength. Nice.

The usual caveats apply that I'm starved of trips to Belgium so valuing its beer extra highly at the moment. The Cashmere Triple Hop is especially worth your while, though. Get it while it's fresh.