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Where in Town: Jack Rose Dining Saloon, 2007 18th St. NW
Price: $8/10 ounces
On a cobblestone alley off the main square of Bruges, Belgium, is a small, centuries-old beer café called Staminee de Garre. Inside, the music of Debussy competes with the banter of Flemish regulars. The draft list above the bar is handwritten on the same paper doilies that accompany glasses of Tripel de Garre, the tavern’s house beer. When I visited in 2006, mine came with a small bowl of cubed cheese. It was one of the best brews I’ve had. At least that’s how I remember it. I was on my first international beer pilgrimage—also my honeymoon—and I’ve wondered since if the memorable beer would hold up outside of that romantic context.
I didn’t think I’d find out. Tripel de Garre is brewed exclusively for the tavern by Van Steenberge, makers of the popular strong ale Gulden Draak. Tasting one should require a pricey plane ticket, but a few kegs have been popping up in Philadelphia and D.C. I recently stumbled upon one at Jack Rose. The golden-amber brew had the same spumy head and tingly carbonation I remember. The aroma was more delicate, but I recognized its full malt, pear, and banana flavors. With a dry, slightly sweet finish, the medium-bodied Tripel was as balanced and, at 11.5 percent alcohol, dangerously drinkable as ever. A few sips transported me back to that cozy, rustic room in Belgium. According to beer director Nahem Simon, Jack Rose will pour the sought-after brew through July. Taste it there now, or wait for Jack Rose’s own house beer coming this December, also brewed by Van Steenberge.
Photo by Tammy Tuck