I'm afraid I'm breaking David's rules for this Session. He's called it A Tripel For Two and asks that participants write about a "Belgian-style tripel". What I had was a tripel all right, and actually from Belgium, but definitely not Belgian-style.
I suspect the vast export market provided by North America is what provoked Brasserie d'Achouffe to produce their catchily-titled Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel, which I picked up in Redmond's recently. It comes in a big bottle so myself and herself shared it over dinner.
'Tis a strange beast and no mistake. Characteristically Chouffe-like, with the peppery spice I've come to associate with their yeast, since it's about the only common factor I've found in their various beers. There's a strong, uncompromising bitterness in with the spice, which I guess is where the tripel label comes in, though the body is much lighter than I would have expected given the 9.5% ABV, and the colour is considerably paler, with a dusting of sediment lurking sullenly at the bottom of the glass.
It's in the hopping, however, that it applies for a Green Card. Amarillo and Tomahawk join the Saaz, and quite late in the brewing process, if I'm not mistaken. The aroma is very citrus, though gives off the hard and oily acidity of oranges rather than light and zesty grapefruit. On the palate the American hoppiness is almost lost amongst the spices, but the lack of body allows some of that grapefruit bitterness to shine through, in a good way.
It's neither one thing or another, this. I think I'd take it over most any other La Chouffe beer, but there's no way I'd swap it for a similarly-sized bottle of Goose Island IPA or Double Daddy (Do such things exist? Why the hell not?) -- the tripel malt profile is just not as enjoyable as the one you get in hoppy American IPAs. We both liked it though. It's a beer that puts a very positive spin on the whole notion that beer styles are not important, and if it tastes good, drink it.
Food? Yeah we had food. Some class of goat's cheese and butternut squash lasagne, I think. It was grand.