Beer Review: 21st Amendment / Elysian’s He Said (Belgian Tripel)

That title alone is more than I’ve written in some time. Time to rectify that, and what better way than with a beer review? Today’s beer is one-half of 21st Amendment and Elysian’s collaboration He Said/He Said pack. I tried my brother a couple bottles of my Spirit’s Foe (which, by the way, has only improved with age and is getting a lot of praise) for one can of He Said. The cans come in a 4-pack where 2 cans are a Baltic Porter brewed with pumpkin and 2 are a Belgian-style Tripel brewed with pumpkin. Presumably Kevin drank both the porters because only the 2 tripels were left. Oh well.

Here’s what 21st Amendment has to say about this brew:

Ale brewed with pumpkin and spices.

This box is a collaboration with Dick Cantwell of Elysian Brewing and contains two cans of He Said Baltic-style Porter and two cans of He Said Belgian-style Tripel, both brewed with pumpkin and spices. That much we know is true. Here’s what Shaun said about the collaboration:

The story starts in 2010 when Dick Cantwell walked into our San Francisco pub. We’d heard about his little pumpkin fest and wanted to get together to brew a pumpkin beer like no other: a Belgianstyle Tripel brewed with pumpkin, galangal and terragon. In a dark colored can.

  • Alcohol Content
    8.2% by volume
  • Color
    Deep gold
  • Hops
    German Northern Brewer, US Golding, Sterling
  • Yeast
    Trappist Ale Yeast
  • Malts
    2-row, Aromatic, Belgian Candi Sugar
  • Special Ingredients
    Pumpkin Puree, Pumpkin Juice, Galangal, Tarragon

He Said 1

Here’s the usual rating suspects…

BeerAdvocate: 84, N/A
RateBeer: 84, 74
Untappd: 3.66

Appearance: 21st describes the color as deep gold. I think that’s pretty close, but with some hints of orange. I read someone that called it “marigold,” which I think is trying to hard. The beer is partly hazy, which makes sense given the Trappist yeast used – Belgian style beers tend to be cloudier because Belgian yeasts are less flocculant, which basically means that they stay swirling in the beer longer – and pours with a thick white head.

Smell: I definitely get some clove and spiciness from the yeast, but also a little bit of an alcohol/phenolic character as well. I’m getting some banana, too, but I’m not picking up any traditional pumpkin notes. It smells like an Orval or Duvel to me. Beyond the general spiciness I’m not getting a lot of what I’d expect in a pumpkin beer. I poured a little extra splash into my glass and got a tinge of cinnamon on the nose.

Taste: Okay, now we’re talking. There a nice spiciness, some notable pumpkin characteristics. I think I’m tasting some  of the tarragon, but since I really don’t know what tarragon tastes like I can’t be sure. There’s some cloves and Belgian-style characteristics, but they are not as prevalent as the smell would indicate. There’s a nice sweetness up front that is balanced off by the spiciness. Not very pumpkin-y in flavor but there are pumpkin characteristics (cinnamon, spices). As it warms I get a little more of the pumpkin sweetness towards the middle of the mouth.

Mouthfeel: Pretty effervescent. Prickly on the lips from the spices. A nice, crisp medium body. Certainly quaffable and relatively juicy. The prickly spiciness is something I enjoy; it reminds me that I’m not drinking a normal tripel.

Final Verdict: 3.5 out of 5. Try it.

I’m not crazy about this beer, to be honest. My thought is that if you’re going to make “pumpkin” something, there should be noticeable pumpkin aroma and taste. I don’t really get either as much as I’d want in this beer. There are hints (the cinnamon and tarragon), but this just comes across as a regular American take on a Belgian tripel with a little extra spiciness. As it warms I get a little more of the pumpkin flavor, but nothing else really comes out in the nose. This is a solid beer, for sure, but if I were looking for a pumpkin beer, I’d be disappointed with this. But for a unique take on a tripel, I’d be very happy with this beer.

He Said 2


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