Dark Horse Sapient Trip Ale | Dark Horse Brewing Company

348 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Dark Horse Sapient Trip AleDark Horse Sapient Trip Ale

Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Tripel

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by putnam on 04-20-2004

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 348 | Ratings: 859
Photo of Sammy
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another Dark Horse drinkable treat, this one at Ashley's on-tap. Hazy light golden with Caesar head. Decent yeast aroma. Above average mouthfeel, good fresh yeastiness, and it is fruity,bannana and apricot, with some bitter hop in the finish. A sipper.

 252 characters

Photo of metter98
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is hazy dark golden yellow in color and has lots of fine yeast particles floating in suspension along with a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with some small patches of bubbles on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: The smell has aromas of fruity esters (bananas seem to stand out in particular) and Belgian yeast along with some hints of candi sugar.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has some initial notes of malty sweetness along with hints of clove towards the finish.
M: It feels a little more than medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. The beer definitely coats your mouth quite well. No dryness is perceptible.
O: The beer definitely tastes strong but for the most part the alcohol is well masked from the taste. It's not very complex but is a pretty good American representation of a Belgian style.

 912 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The standard offerings of Dark Horse has shown to be, let's call it inconsistent. The hit home runs with some beers and digress with others and it seems to have no bearing on the style of beer or complexity of ingredients nor processes. Though their tripel is a little short of authentic, it does more than the cleaner and more simplistic Belgian-style ales that most American brewers conjure.

The creamy and heavily embedded carbonation of their Sapient Trip Ale does little to showcase the highly effervescent look of Chimay Cinq Cents or Tripel Karmeliet, but does show a firm cap of foam that soon recedes to a thin sheet across the glass. Shy with retention and lace, the beer's strong amber hue does little to immulate great tipels of Belgium.

Aromas sing a different story as the nose registers a strong pilsner malt aroma along with bready sweetness, dry fruit, and peppery spice. When reaching for true Belgian character- now we're talkin'!

The early palate garners the taste of rich breads and bread crust along with a soft, dry, underlying sweetness of confectioner's sugar and pepper. Dry fruit qualities of apples, pears, peach, apricot, and mango all attribute to the estery mix but without any of their extra-sweet properties. Instead, the strong spicy balance from fresh cracked peppercorn, cumin, fennel, coriander, and dried orange peel contrast the sweetness of malt and fruitiness of yeast extremely well. A firm yet understated hop presence delivers a mild stemmy bitterness that hinges on sassafras.

But to the mouth feel, the beer's carbonation creates a full and creamy impression and not the airy and effervescent dryness that I so appreciate in those classy Belgian brewed versions. The creamy richness happily falls apart and allows the dry fruit, dry spice, and alcohol to steal the show heading into finish. This is where the dryness of the beer is accentuated by alcohol warmth to provide a mostly dry finish with a linger of fruit and spice.

The beer does a lot to immulate what's going on in traditional Belgian tripel ales, but the lack of hop flavor and the richer textures to start are just a few reminders that this is in fact a Belgian-inspired American tripel ale.

 2,208 characters

Photo of emerge077
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this into a fluted tulip glass. It was a hazy opaque orange, similar to pulpy orange juice. Initial short cap of foam, that faded to a ring soon after.

Clovey, yeasty aroma, with some breadiness. Later on it has a slightly funky, doughy twang. Vague dried citrus rind.

Spicy clove in the flavor, with a big wheaty, yeast-enhanced mouthfeel. Bitter lemon peel. Sweetness is there, but in check. Some phenols tingle the palate. It feels a little heavier than the first time I tried this on tap. Easy to have a couple bottles or drafts.

 544 characters

Photo of zeff80
4.19/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a somewhat cloudy, golden/orange color with a one-finger, khaki-colored head of bubbly foam.

S - It smelled of clove, banana, yeast and sweet fruits. Really great aroma that smells like a true Belgian tripel.

T - It tasted of spicy yeast and clove. It had a caramel malt backbone with a sweet fruitiness.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a fizzy bite. A medium-bodied ale with a dry finish.

D - This is a pretty good Tripel from an American brewery. It tastes like an authentic Belgian ale.

 508 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
2.19/5  rDev -40.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed from notes.

Poured into a tulip. Color is a bright honey gold with a mild white head and not much in the way of retention or lacing. Nose is strange with some cardboard and phenols plus a great deal of slice. Taste falls under the same rubric. Body is off with fairly low carbonation. While the off flavors weren't terribly apparent, when combined with a lack of true character, this just wasn't my favorite brew, especially coming from a brewery whose beers I normally enjoy very much.

 496 characters

Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into chalice, bottled on 5/6/2014. Pours moderately hazy/cloudy golden orange color with a 1 finger dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of apricot, orange, golden raisin, pear, apple, light banana, clove, pepper, biscuit, candi sugar, herbal, floral, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/earthy yeast ester and bready malt sweetness; with good strength. Taste of apricot, orange, golden raisin, pear, apple, light banana, clove, biscuit, candi sugar, herbal, floral, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Fair amount of earthy yeast spice on the finish; with lingering notes of apricot, golden raisin, pear, apple, light banana, clove, biscuit, candi sugar, herbal, light pepper, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity and robustness of fruity/earthy yeast and bready malt sweetness; with a great malt/yeast balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth and fairly crisp/bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice tripel style. All around good complexity and balance of fruity/earthy yeast and bready malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,472 characters

Photo of oberon
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have to say that is an interesting label on this beer and the beer inside is just as interesting.Pours a deep hazy dark yellow with some orange tint with a big fluffy head that leaves nice lace behind,big yeasty aromas very spicey and clovey with a splash of tropical fruit.Flavors as well in this beer are dominated by big yeasty notes,cloves and apple are very noticable with a touch of alcohol as it warms a little.A good stab at the style maybe could have a little more fruitiness but pretty damn good.

 508 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: A fizzy 1 finger head rises up and fades slowly over the really hazy orange tan almost wheat colored beer.

N: Definite Belgian tripel aromas, with Belgian malts, some light spices, light wheat, some sweetness with light candi sugar, touch of booze aroma, some light fruit, some rich malts.

T: Starts with a light aura, with lots of malt flavors. More Belgian malts, chewy malts, some light wheat, a little creamy, Belgian candi sugar and sweetness. It has a creamy slight bitter unpleasant slight boozy sweetness. There's a weird flavor I can't really describe that comes in many tripels, that his has tons of. It's a slight creamy, wheaty, malty, bitter boozy weird taste, with some weird off flavors.

M: Medium body with decent carbonation and spicy warming booze.

F: Lots of that weird off flavor, with boozy malty wheat and bad bitter flavor. I wish I knew what it was. It also has a creamy flavor, that bad flavor that is. The bitter root earthy flavor just doesn't go away. Perhaps it's a form of diacetyl, with some almost butter popcorn flavor in that weird creamy bitterness. Not a great finish. Some boozy tingly warming alcohol on the finish as well.

 1,169 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.47/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle with cryptic stamp on neck served in a Paulaner Weissbier glass.

Pours slightly hazy amber with a large frothy white head. Good retention and lacing effects.

Aroma: sweet and spicy with hints of banana and other tropical fruits; yeasty with some wheat. Complex but not what I'd expect for style.

Taste: sweet (overly at first) with a pronounced, but not overpowering fruitiness that mainly consists of banana. Bready malts with a clear contribution from wheat. Alcohol esters reveal the high ABV.

Feel: soft, medium-light body.

O: strange tripel that tastes more like an eisbock or hefe-weizen than a Belgian Tripel.

 638 characters

Photo of Rifugium
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at Race Street Cafe, Philly, PA

Served on tap in a tulip glass. Pretty nice. Packed a flavorful punch, a little less on the hoppy side, and more on the floral side, if that's what you look for in a tripel. Hazy amber color with moderate head. Floral aroma with light fruits. Light fruits in the taste, peaches, apricot, banana, light sugar. Light-medium mouthfeel, and fairly drinkable.

 405 characters

Photo of mactrail
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fragrant, crisp and spicy ale. Fine Belgian rasp to go with the sweet kiss of malt. Like a hotted-up Saison. I think this even looks nicer than the average Tripel with lush creamy head and lacing, and beautiful golden amber color. Serious fruitiness, on the tropical side. Mango comes to mind, and sweet dried pineapple. Hops come forward at the right moment as the malt fades a little. A sniff of the tulip glass yields some mustiness, but the nose is floral and spicy.

I like the style, but this one seems so clean and flavorful, My pick for best Tripel this year. Rich yet well balanced.

 591 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a lightly hazy, bright yellow body topped by a medium-sized, white head.

Smell: Somewhat mild aroma altogether, with notes of toasted wheat, freshly harvested hay, banana, spice, used gum, and a sugar candi.

Taste: Sugary tasting toasted wheat flavor. Handful of crushed crackers. There's a sourish quality to the overall taste of the beer. Pinch of spice, a bit of banana. Mild hint of gum, like a stick that's been chewed nearly to the point of being rendered tasteless. A bit of alcohol showing on the lightly sour finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Has some potential, sure, but as it stands it's not the tripel for me.

 678 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Honey amber with lemon peel trim. The ivory colored crown is small, but looks pretty good all the same. I much prefer the vigorously bubbled Belgian tripels with their hugely rocky heads. A short collar of lace is the extent of the glass coverage.

The nose is somewhat tripel-like (fruity and minimally clove spicy), but it's overly subdued and overly simple. The really good versions of the style have absolutely nothing to worry about. Initial high hopes are beginning to fade.

Sapient Trip Ale makes a bit of a comeback on the taste buds. It probably isn't enough, however, to earn the higher score. It's better than many American brewer's attempts at the style, but it isn't in the same league as some of my domestic favorites. Allagash Tripel Reserve, for instance, is in a different universe.

Leading the flavor parade are apricots and apples in sugar syrup, honey and white rum. While it isn't bad given the 8.5% ABV, the alcohol needs to be buried a little deeper. The lack of finesse and lack of appreciable Trappist yeastiness is disappointing. Clove esters are a mere afterthought.

The body/mouthfeel is probably the highlight of this whole experience. Having said that, don't expect the usual Belgian ale magic. It's more along the lines of a big American ale: medium-full with just enough carbonation to keep things moving smartly along.

Sapient (adj): having or showing great wisdom or sound judgment. Anyone who is a huge fan of Belgian tripels would show great wisdom and impeccable judgment in choosing Tripel Karmeliet, Gouden Carolus Tripel, St. Bernardus Tripel, De Dolle Dulle Teve (Mad Bitch), or any number of others, before Dark Horse Sapient Trip Ale. Passable at best.

 1,700 characters

Photo of russpowell
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Cheers to indiapale for this, thanx russ

Pours a semi-murky amber with cream colored head. Decent head retention & lacing...

S: Faint apricots; some lemon & peach

T: Apricot, pears & oakyness,some persimmons as well. Dryness, pears & apricots as this warms, plus pineapple, plus some oakyness. Finishes with a flourish of orchard fruit, plus some dark fruit as as well, plus a touch of cinnamon

MF: Medium bodied, slight carbonation, slightly grainy

Drinks pretty easy for the ABV & style. A good example, not as epic as I hoped

 535 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Starts by pouring a neutral amber, then toward the end of the glass, it comes out brown. Upon closer inspection, there was a lot of yeast in this bottle--it actually changes the color of the beer. Modest head but leaves ample, webby lace.

Earthy but with fully fermented candy sugars. Belgian yeast in the nose.

Sweet and yeasty flavor. Lots of up front alcohol. The yeast is subtler on the tongue. My first thought was barley wine at a far higher abv. The carbonation is quite high--too much for the body. Overall, it's probably easier to grab a true Belgian Tripel, even though this is a decent American version.

 616 characters

Photo of mdfb79
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 04/25/11 notes. Had on tap at Churchkey in Washington, DC.

a - Pours a hazy deep orange color with one inch of white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of bananas, oranges, yeast, spices, cloves, and bready malts. Very nice.

t - Tastes of bananas, fruits, spices, bready malts, wheat, citrus, yeast. Again, very enjoyable.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation, very smooth and creamy. A little less carbonation and the mouthfeel would be perfect.

o - Overall a really nice trpiel and another very good beer from Dark Horse. Something I would love to have again.

 587 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Walter Payton shaker pint glass.

What the hell's going on on this label? Anyway, the contents pour a clear auburn-brass topped by a finger of cream-white foam and populated by streaks of floaties (kinda reminds me of liquid sandstone). The nose comprises clove, light maple syrup, lemon zest, orange zest, black pepper, light banana, and a touch of toasted caramel in the back. The taste holds notes of heavy clove, black pepper, light banana, toasted caramel, honey, mandarin orange syrup, and a pinch of nutmeg. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a very lightly syrupy feel. Overall, an interesting and solid brew. As a true tripel, I think it misses the mark a bit, but its unique take on the style is still pretty easy to appreciate. Not bad.

 790 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Quite the murky trip ale with a deep bronze/golden body and a bright white head, pretty clouded. Lacing is fine and even carbonation was effervescent and smooth versus most of the recent Dark Horse brews I've had with supper fizzy carbonation. Blasts of sugar and booze, tropical fruit including mango and pineapple. For sure there's a bit of nutty yeast like notes and mild spices. Flavor brings out more tropical fruit content with excellent spicing balance, a bit of alcohol in the finish enough to make it a rough experience slightly fusel. The yeast dough/nut combo is almost like one of those Italian nougat desserts. Not much in the way of an evident hop profile here. Mouthfeel is medium bodied slightly cloying with residual sugars this one has a ton of malt in it, carbonation is better than most of their other offerings still not world class but acceptable. Drinkability is solid an Americanized version of the style one of the better ones in that regards but compared to a Belgian tripel it's hard to compare the two.

 1,030 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly cloudy deep golden color with a smallish tightly bubbled white head that displays moderate retention. Smells of sweet malt and candy sugar, slightly spicy and peppery with some Belgian yeasty esters. Taste starts off sweet and malty with some sweet candy sugar that slowly gives way to some peppery spicy notes. Finish is a long lingering spicy earthy Belgian yeast kind of thing. Medium body and level of carbonation with a sweet slick mouthfeel. Decent triple ale but not my favorite. This really needs more of a sweet malt backbone to stand up to the spicy peppery flavors at work here.

 606 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
4/5  rDev +9.3%

This is a spicy Belgian tripel ale. It pours a particulated orangish color with thin white head that is not lacing. The scent is typical of most Tripels. So is the taste but it carries a nice spice and clove. The mouthfeel is fuller in body with smooth carbonation. Overall this is a good one for those that enjoy Belgian tripels.

 335 characters

Photo of tdm168
3.32/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

A - dark, murky, cloudy yellow with a ton of dark sediment floating about; thin, soft cap of white head that fades quickly

S - very faint nose; some fruit, apple, pear, very faint yeast

T - fruit, pear, apple, bitter hops, yeast, vegetal, big booze

M - dry, warm, full bodied

I'm sorry to say that this is quite disappointing. First the appearance is frightening. It's murky and has a ton of stuff floating around. If this came out of a faucet I would have freaked out. The nose is almost nonexistent. The taste is intensely bitter which takes away from everything else. The booze is also intense. The finish is quite dry which seems to leave the intense bitterness on the palate. The esters that come through are nice, but that doesn't make up for the rest of it. I won't be picking this up again.

 802 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a pretty decent tripel. Nice fruity esters with an underlying sweetness that works. It's a bit boozy though, which would probably be a big detractor for me. But it isn't like a lot of the disastrous tripels you see American breweries putting out.

 254 characters

Photo of smakawhat
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

A muddy dark brown orange body, lots of yeast chunks, some fast rising thin carbonation of white bubbles. No head produced on this barely at all, thin tan collar. For a tripel pretty unimpressive.

Nose is rather interesting. Lots of sweet candy, and a big yeasty thick punch. Hints of mint and lemon grass, and melon sort of mango fruit. Some really nice qualities here. Smells inviting.

Taste though is incredibly, "flat". Palate has a very weak feel, not carrying any big malt or sweetness forward. Wet. Finish is incredibly tasteless and watery. Mild bitterness akin to a dead pale ale.

Overall this tripel is not delivering, there's no body, no malt sweetness, no candy tasting goodness, even the wonderful bouquet on this is not coming out in the palate. Too bad because it smells really good.

 845 characters

Photo of Billolick
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle, comes with no freshness or bottling info. Pours clouded orange hued amber, under a fairly skimpy light tan head, that leaves scattered lace after a moderate swirl. Fruity nose, then a booze, hot first sip. Yikes, this one is a mess, on the unpleasant side. Unfortunately it lacks the characteristics of a well crafted tripel. Pass this one by, so many other more enjoyable Belgians out there...

 411 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Dark Horse Sapient Trip Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
3.66 out of 5 based on 859 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.