Orabelle, Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver

Style: Belgian-style tripel

ABV: 8.3 percent

Serving Type: 12-ounce bottle

Malty? Hoppy? Malty. It is a tripel.

Reviewed: February 2013

Most people’s first memories of beer involve Natty Lights or Stones. I had those experiences, too, but my formative “I like beer” moments were sampling Belgians in Europe during a study-abroad year. Yes, a beer snob was born even before I had a chance to truly explore America’s light beer options.

This early education is both a blessing and a curse as I sample beers today. I’ve had years to develop my palate, but I tend to be hard on beer styles that are a mere decade old, rather than the ancient Belgian recipes. Still, I’m a little giddy about how Colorado brewers are paying more and more attention to Belgian style ales. I love me some IPA, but it is time for Colorado brewers to expand.

That’s where Great Divide’s Orabelle comes in. This seasonal pours with a light head that collapses quickly (maybe too quickly). The color is a caramel honey tone. The nose is just plain delightful with notes of my old friends: coriander and orange. It is tricky for a tripel to mask the high alcohol content, but this one does, relying on a heavy dose of two yeasts. The aftertaste is bitter (go figure), but not so much that you’ll pucker. In general, the Orabelle is a homage to a Belgian-style tripel, but is re-imagined in a distinctly Colorado (read: bolder) way.

Would we buy it again? Yes, when I want friends to try a Belgian-style brew for the first time.

Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.