De Struise's Pannepot is clearly very good, so a bourbon barrel aged tripel from the same producer must be worth something.
Well, it's worth exactly €6.99.
2013's XXX Reserva is a rye tripel, no less, and pours an almost opaque, hazy brown with a cap off off-white foam. Boozy Belgian stuff opens the aromatic proceedings, with spirit, chocolate toffee, and sweet candi sugar making up the bones of things. A vanilla undertone suggests the presence of a bourbon barrel in the process. The palate is largely the same, existing as a heady, strong candi-backed malt bomb. Complex dark fruits with a creamy texture, smooth and round but with a pique of astringency; there's a lot going on here. Raisins and dates, Christmas cake, honey and a comfortable caramel finish make this a beautiful drink. What starts as if to assault the senses with booze, thick malts and heavy sweetness quickly controls itself to become a careful, subtle and, at least to taste, absent of any of the Bourbon sickliness that tends to destroy tact in big beers like this.