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Devil's Backbone - Real Ale Brewing Company

Devil's Backbone
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very good

414 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 414
Reviews: 132
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.54%

Brewed by:
Real Ale Brewing Company visit their website
Texas, United States

Style | ABV
Tripel |  8.10% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Pegasus on 05-18-2005)
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Ratings: 414 | Reviews: 132 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of jokelahoma


3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter at home.

Pours a bright, clear orange-yellow. Hardly any head, and what there was tended to be soda-like, with loose bubbles that almost immediately disappeared.

Odd aroma. Wet straw, and a fuel-like smell that I can't quite place. Something like watermelon as well. It ends up with a sourdough bread crust smell. Kind of a mishmash. Not bad, just rather hard to pin down.

Flavor is decent up front. Good Belgian abbey character, albeit a bit thin. Hints of banana, tangerine, and perhaps even grape skins. Then an odd thing happens... it simply disappears. Gone, like there's no flavor, as though you just took a sip of water. Finally the taste of the beer reappears, but toward the back of my throat, more an alcohol burn than a real taste, to be honest. I've had beers where the sip faded quickly, but I can't say as I've ever had one just up and disappear the second I swallowed the brew. I had to throw back several sips in rapid succession to see if I imagined it, but no, it's really so dry that it's just up and gone the very second you swallow. It's not astringent or mouth puckering, not that kind of dry. The beer just vanishes. It's a decent if rather mild rendition of a tripel to that point, but the disappearing act is kind of disconcerting.

Mouthfeel is extraordinarily light. You don't want much more than this in a tripel, but a little more would have been beneficial, and no doubt could have played a part in getting the flavor to hang around for a bit.

This had potential. Even with the wild, all over the place aroma, it still could have locked in to be a good brew. The flavor starts that way, than... poof. Gone. It's just too watery in both mouthfeel and especially the end of the drink to rate it too highly. Close, but no cigar. Or beer, for that matter.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2014 01:25:51 | More by jokelahoma
Photo of a0lbudman


3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A-hazy light gold with a small white head that did leave a light lace
S-lemon and banana with some spice aroma to it and with some honey in the background
T-yeast and malt with banana and some spice, hop bitterness with some alcohol warming but not much
M-light body and creamy with high carbonation
O-was a solid beer. Enjoyed it.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2014 02:40:47 | More by a0lbudman
Photo of ranger7


3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a laser-etched Samuel Adams glass.
Review from notes: January 11th, 2014. "Drink by 5/20/2014"

A: Golden with bright white head. Crystal clear.

S: Honey, sweet.

T: Slight hop bite up front, nice and smooth and sweet in the back.

M: Thin, very little carbonation. It works.

O: Pretty good Tripel example, maybe a bit too hoppy.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2014 21:58:49 | More by ranger7
Photo of brurevu


4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I always love a good Belgian Tripel and this is a great Texas example of the style. It is a light golden color that deceptively hides its high alcohol content, but while the color is light, there is nothing light about the taste. It has all the signature Belgian yeast notes with some spicing and a slight hop to help balance out the flavors. It has a robust mouthfeel with a smooth balanced finish. This is a solid Tripel.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2013 21:58:18 | More by brurevu
Photo of fourstringer


3.1/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into an old-fashioned glass with a moderate hand. Label states: Best if consumed by 04.08.14.

A: Cloudy, golden yellow with a suggestion of head that immediately fizzles away to nothing. Zero retention. No lacing. Assumes the appearance of unfiltered apple juice.

S: Sweet with slight Belgian yeast. Rather fruity with notes of banana, apple, lemon, tropical varieties. Coriander. Reminds me of Hoegaarden. Smells good, I'd say.

T: Minimally sweet with a rather yeasty start. A harsh, dominating bitterness quickly arises and persists throughout. There are hints of spice and some tropical fruit/apple flavors that increase as it warms. Moderate alcohol presence for 8% ABV. Fairly dry finish.

M: Low-moderate carbonation with a paradoxical prickliness on the tongue. Moderate body. Coats well, but there is definitely something lacking...

O: Not terribly impressive. Maybe I have a bad bottle on my hands? I'd like to think so. I get some tripel-type flavors, but the bitterness really usurps the whole experience. Frankly, I'm surprised by some of the scores on this one...

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2013 02:39:05 | More by fourstringer
Photo of buschbeer


3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 FLUID OZ. bottle
Served in a snifter

A - It pours a hazy, golden amber color. It is topped with two inches of white head.

S - I could smell banana as I poured it. Upon further investigation, I thought it smelled like banana cream with some spices.

T - It has a mild banana taste at first. Belgian spices come through at the finish and tend to become the dominant flavor as it warms.

M - Moderate, smooth with low carbonation for the style.

O - While it is a timid tripel, I found it enjoyable. The banana and Belgian yeast spiciness were complimentary and refreshing.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2013 20:54:32 | More by buschbeer
Photo of CMUbrew


3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: A few shades above straw yellow when held up to the light. Hazy with plenty of yeast particles (probably should have decanted a little better). Not a whole lot of head to speak of.

S: Fruity yeast, apple, pear, hay. Smells like it be fairly sweet.

T: Yeast, grassy and slightly earthy hops, and honeycrisp apple. Sweet overall.

M: Carbonation may be a bit low, making it feel a little too big-bodied.

O: A really good, drinkable Belgian style beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2013 01:06:54 | More by CMUbrew
Photo of kojevergas


2.55/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clearly identifies as a tripel on the label, so I'm reviewing as such. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with fun label art and a branded silver pry-off pressure cap acquired as part of a mixed six-pack at Whole Foods HQ here in Austin and served into an Independence Brewing pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average; I've yet to be impressed by the brewery, but this seems to be one of their less mainstream offerings so I'm optimistic.

Brewed with Czech Saaz hops, candi sugar, and Belgian yeast. Best before: 01/26/14.

Served cold - straight from me fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Pours a one finger wide head of grey-white colour. Somewhat thin. Not much creaminess or frothiness. No real lacing as the head recedes. Head retention is above average - about 3 minutes.

Body colour is a clear yellow-copper of average vibrance. Good clarity. Translucent. No yeast particles are visible.

Sm: Honey, nectary hop character, Belgian pale malts, Belgian candi sugar, grains & cereals, floral hop character, crystal malts, Saaz, banana fruit esters, and an apple cider touch. The herbal Saaz bitterness clashes with the malty sweetness. I'm not getting much in terms of yeast. There does seem to be an alcohol presence here, albeit a slight one. Not a great aroma for a tripel, but I'm optimistic. An inoffensive aroma of average to mild strength.

T: Malty sweetness in the first act and beginning of the first half; it clashes with the herbal Saaz and crystal malts in the late second half. Bursts of banana fruit esters up front alongside some clove. Candi sugar throughout doesn't fully conceal the hop bitterness - which shouldn't even be present to begin with; this is definitely overhopped. I do get some spiciness from the yeast; it's very cleanly fermented, and the yeast is probably the best aspect of the beer. Pilsner malts and a good deal of Belgian pale/blonde malts fill out the body. Honey. I do find some alcohol presence, unfortunately. A bit cidery, with touches of pear and apple.

Overall, the build is mediocre for a tripel, and the balance is problematic. Not gestalt. Qutie boring for a tripel. A bit bland as well. Depth of flavour is rather shallow for the style. Average flavour duration and intensity.

There are no off-flavours, unless you count the presence of alcohol - which isn't egregious.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Unrefreshing. Lacks a full firm body. Too thick at some points and too thin at others. Weak, with "empty" points throughout the flavour profile. Overcarbonated. Inappropriate for the style. It doesn't suit the flavour profile all that well. Subpar execution.

Dr: Real Ale disappoints again, this time with a tripel. I wouldn't buy it again, and Real Ale's other beers are racing to the bottom of my "to-try" list. I definitely wouldn't want another one, and it's not the most drinkable beer either, what with its obvious alcohol presence. If you want a good tripel, look elsewhere. This one doesn't deliver.

Low C-

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2013 22:03:01 | More by kojevergas
Photo of jmbranum


4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bought at Central Market in Fort Worth, Texas but enjoyed back home in Oklahoma.

I have long loved beers from Real Ale Brewing Co. so I was excited to try this one.

Pours an attractive clear gold with a one inch white head.

Aroma is very alcoholic. I can smell a bit of malt, some hops and then some interesting gasoline-like notes.

Complex flavor. Lots of hops to balance the sweet maltyness. Not crisp and dry as some of the style, but also some interesting hefeweizen-ish clove and bananas. Maybe a bit of pineapples.

Rich and full mouthfeel.

Overall, this beer is interesting. Maybe a little bit too interesting. It is very balanced but also has lots of domineering notes... the hops, the sweet malt, the herbs and definitely the alcohol. Unlike many tripels this beer doesn't hide those notes at all.

That said, what I like about this beer is the price. High ABV for the same price as the other offerings of Real Ale. It definitely is a good nightcap kind of beer.

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2013 03:19:28 | More by jmbranum
Photo of Premo88


3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into tulip
(drank it on 4/3/13; best if consumed by 8/10/13)

L: pale yellow-orange, slightly opaque with pure white head about 1-inch thick with big bubbles on top; the head is different with the soapy-like bubbles; decent lacing off the head .

S: bananas, sweet/sour wine, sour grapes, fruity sweetness

T: sour/sweet wine-like taste, bananas ... very hefeweizen-like in a way, but the ABV kicks in on the finish and you can taste some of that alcohol; very balanced over all of its different taste notes

F: solid but not as much carbonation as most Belgians

O: great change-of-pace brew with all of the major key notes of a tripel. wine-drinkers would love this brew.

Serving type: bottle

06-30-2013 02:00:44 | More by Premo88
Photo of AlCaponeJunior


3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Tripel wise I don't think it was real outstanding in appearance, hazy tan with a 1 finger head that quickly settled to a white sheen, but the lacing was pretty good.

Taste and aroma had plenty of tripel qualities, Belgian yeast, cloves, banana, spices. A slight crispness enhances the flavors, it's a bit more drinkable than a typical tripel. Alcohol is only noticeable on the way down as it warms slightly. Body is medium to working on being full, carbonation is fairly low for a tripel, but by no means is it flat.

It's tasty. I don't personally think it's RABC's best, but then they have made quite a few beers that I really enjoy, so it's a bit hard to choose. OK it's still a tie between four squared and altbier, if you force me to tell. But the Devil's backbone is pretty good too.

Serving type: bottle

06-27-2013 03:54:00 | More by AlCaponeJunior
Photo of BSDA


4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Being a huge fan of Belgian Ales, from this golden style to a deep, dark divinity like Chimay Grande Reserve, this one is right up my alley. The hoppy bitterness in the aftertaste is not strong like an IPA, somwhere around 35 IBUs? Poured from a bottle into a 16oz, short bell-shaped glass with handle. Color is a beautiful goldenrod, and smell is fruity, like subdued bananas and sweet malts. Feeling on the tongue and palate is thicker than wheat beer, but nowhere near amber or dark Belgian ale. Head dissipates very quickly in such a wide-mouth glass, and barely lasts 3min in a thin, fluted glass. No matter, because if you like a little bitter with your golden cream, then this is a beer for your roster. I give it a 4/5 because it lacks a little in complexity, though there are spices noted throughout the tasting experience. I will definitely buy again, as it delivers a simple Tripel experience without the Belgian Tripel price. A very Americanized version of a classic, this one is good for advocates to become acquainted with the heavier Belgian styles. Excellent for a sweet tooth, and quite refreshing!

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2013 23:04:27 | More by BSDA
Photo of RonaldTheriot


4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Real Ale Devil’s Backbone ale has a very thin, fizzy, off-white head, a hazy, brilliant, golden-orange appearance, some streaming bubbles, little floating brown particles, a descending gray-brown cloud, and decent lacing film left behind. The aroma is of sweet hard candy, grain husk, sweet corn, and yeast zest. Flavor is of peppery, yeasty, sweet, sugary malt, candy, grits, and a mellow hop bitterness to close out the sip. Mouthfeel is rather watery, and Devil’s Backbone finishes semi-dry, crisp, not alcohilic, and decently drinkable.


Serving type: bottle

05-19-2013 16:40:21 | More by RonaldTheriot
Photo of ajisai


4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Where/When: Austin, TX May 12th with best before date of October 22.

Serving: Bottle.

Scent: Really reminds me of Live Oak Hefeweizen. Sugary... Sort of banana-ish. A tad nutty.

Taste: The flavors are very light--the carbonation is constantly fighting with them. I feel a bit of vanilla and banana. Aftertaste is almost the same as initial taste; doesn't really change from sip to gulp. Lemon, banana, and vanilla is what I'd say overall.

Overall: Very nice drink. It's almost *too* deceiving because three of these will get me woozy. I would never think that this was 8% from how smooth it goes down. One of the more tasty beers from Real Ale.

Serving type: bottle

05-12-2013 07:38:21 | More by ajisai
Photo of RblWthACoz


3.26/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to Grendle for this one.

Quite the tang on this one. Somehow it works well enough, but it's not really bringing balance or a level of complexity that keeps it interesting. I think I can sum if up by saying that it's pretty one dimensional. And frankly, this is what Belgian styles of yesteryear tasted like when coming out of the U.S.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2013 04:31:57 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of MattSweatshirt


3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Drank 4 months before it's best by date.

Poured slowly down the middle of a chalice reveals a finger of white head that eventually falls apart to almost nothing and a clear golden colored body.

Smells of sweet bubblegum, apple cider, floral, with some spice.

Follows the nose with sweetness, apple fruitiness, spice, bready, and a touch bitter.

I drank this fairly warm and picked up slight alcohol vapors and flavor which provided a nice warming sensation. Could use a bit more carbonation. Pretty nice tripel overall.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2013 04:12:58 | More by MattSweatshirt
Photo of visualweasel


4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A cloudy golden yellow with a weak white head, leaving behind minimal lacing. Had to agitate the pour to get a nice collar, which then dissipated rapidly.

S: Fairly typical Belgian tripel aromas: bubblegum, candy sugar, bananas. Quite nice.

T: Follows the nose, with the bubblegum prevailing (in a good way). Very nice indeed for the style, especially from a Texas brewer.

M: Medium-bodied with weak carbonation. Would have liked to see a bit more, but not at all bad.

O: A very nice example of the style. I thoroughly enjoyed this and found it a notch or two better than the Dick's Belgian Tripel (Centralia, WA) which I also had the same night.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2013 17:01:57 | More by visualweasel
Photo of n2185

North Carolina

3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: pours a clear golden yellow with two fingers of white head that fades into a thin cap with good lacing.

S: Belgian spices witb lots of sweet candy sugar, bubblegum, and bananas. Yeasty aromas on the finish.

T: similar to the aroma, spices, bubblegum, and candy sugar dominate with a slightly bitter and yeasty finish.

M: medium body with lowish carbonation, this beer is a bit sticky and under-attenuated for my tastes.

O: a decent tripel overall. A bit heavy and not as balanced as I'd like, but still enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2013 06:46:00 | More by n2185
Photo of shortedaman


4.9/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I prefer this beer from the bottle. I have had 50+ of these. The key to this one is freshness. I too have grown a fondness for real ale brewing. Since im in houston i get it pretty fresh.

I love this beer. I love the alcohol content, i love how its super easy to drink, i love the taste. Its fruity and fairly thick, medium carbonation, nice belgian yeast flavor.

drinking this one from the bottle seems to add to the style. Pouring it into a tulip is all well and good, however theres just something special about drinking straight from the bottle. It tones down the fruitiness and alcohol taste. This beer needs to be reviewed by the bros for sure.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2012 06:40:50 | More by shortedaman
Photo of KTCamm

New Jersey

3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a fluted beer glass.

Pours an orange/yellow blend, with fast acting white foam. Fruity nose, and the candi sugar is in there too. Fruit flavored flavor, light sugary middle, mild hop bite. Medium complexity. Good cafrbonation in the mouthfeel. Little bit of peppery hop at the end.

Good flavor, nice blend.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2012 21:32:57 | More by KTCamm
Photo of Labeorphile


3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a Chimay chalice. Extremely clear for a Triple, showing it is filtered and not refermented in the bottle. Almost no head, and what there is quickly disappears.

Pineapple citrus in the nose, maybe some coriander, hints of banana. The taste has the flavor of a Triple, but one that isn't quite right. Tastes like an "Americanized Triple", which I guess is what it is. Overly clean, like they got the flavors right but not the character. Like someone singing Karaoke of your favorite song.

Not bad, especially if you aren't familiar with the true Belgians.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2012 04:06:47 | More by Labeorphile
Photo of bundy462


4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Golden, clear, very clean with a frothy white head.

S: Huge Beligian yeast, tripel all the way.

T: Big Belgian yeast, fruity undertones, sugary. There is a medicinal quality to the finish from the heavy booze content.

M: Super smooth, goes down easy, easy drinker.

O: Awesome brew, great tripel. Highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2012 00:12:42 | More by bundy462
Photo of mactrail


3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Golden and sudsy in the glass. A very attractive beer. Pleasantly carbonated and on the creamy side. A very nice nose of yeast and overripe pineapple.

The Belgian flavors are nicely integrated. This is both mellow and malty, and sharp and spicy. The yeasty flavors dry out toward the finish, though the bitterness is not as strong as many others brewed with Belgian yeast. A touch of green apple skins. On the whole it makes for a very drinkable beer. It could use just a little more edge, either with tart or bitter flavors.

Thoroughly pleasant brew that may not be a world class Tripel, but it does credit to the style. From the 12 oz bottle bought at Pinkie's in San Angelo, Texas.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2012 04:29:39 | More by mactrail
Photo of OgreSanchez


5/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got from Total Wine in Dallas. I was pleasantly surprised with this beer; it's by far the best I've had from Real Ale. A sweet start is topped off my a nice spicy, semi-smokey finish that perfectly masks the ~8% ABV. It is classified as a abbey style tripel, however it's not really like any style beer I've ever had before.

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2012 03:08:56 | More by OgreSanchez
Photo of bboven


3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Nice bright orange color, great haze, but very small head and no lacing.

S: A bit one dimenensional but all the right notes are there, Sweet, yeasty, bready, and just a little boozy.

T: A bit too much oxidation (yes, it's fresh according to the date on the bottle) but nicely sweet and a little boozy.

M: Spot on. Thick, creamy, low carbonation but not sticky. Best part of this beer.

O: Wouldn't be my first choice for this style but it definitely gets the job done.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2012 01:51:07 | More by bboven
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Devil's Backbone from Real Ale Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 414 ratings.