Devil's Backbone | Real Ale Brewing Company

very good
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Devil's BackboneDevil's Backbone

Brewed by:
Real Ale Brewing Company
Texas, United States

Style: Tripel

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Pegasus on 05-18-2005

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Reviews: 178 | Ratings: 786
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.79/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

i wouldnt call this dumbed down or anything, i mean, its quite a well made take on the style, i just found it to be a little cautious with some of the flavors and textures here. rather true to style though, and nicely done overall. its a little murky, but fairly bright for what it is, good white head on it, but it settles back after a few minutes. smells like heavy wheat malt and a tamer belgian yeast strain. i dont get any of that extra sugar spike, and i dont really get the flowery and spicy side of the yeast. its there a little in the nose with some soft white pepper, but in the flavor its more of that bubblegum fruity sort of vibe, tasty but not at all unique. the malt is tasty and fresh, and it is definitely wheat driven. lighter body and alcohol and more expressive carbonation make this an easier drinking take on the tripel, although it is absolutely still quite substantial. a little more sweetness than i like on the back end, even for the style. well made but quite subtle in a lot of respects. enjoyable with a whole range of foods, but i had it with the unlikely combination of a meatball and red sauce, which sounds odd but tastes really nice. quality beer no doubt.

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Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a fairly hazy honey color with a fluffy head that drizzles lace down the side of the tulip

Smell: Light fruit (pear and banana) drizzled with honey, candi sugar and grassy character

Taste: Pean and banana fruit, up front, with a candi sugar sweetness that is joined by grassy hops by mid-palate; after the swallow, the peppery hop element grows to dominate the flavor profile, though the sweeter elements linger underneath; the fusel alcohol adds a bit of a harsh character to the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with moderately high carbonation; warmth in the gullet from the alcohol

Drinkability: While not in the top echelon of the style, this is a surprisingly good example of a tripel brewed by a non-Belgian specialist craft brewery

Thanks, FreeVerse, for the opportunity

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Photo of kojevergas
2.56/5  rDev -33.2%
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-

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Photo of emerge077
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Chris for this one!
Bottle dated "best by 12.14.12".

Hazy glowing saturated orange, thin cap of creamy finely-textured foam. A thin ring around the edge, otherwise not much retention. Ever present rising trails of carbonation.

Pepper, dried apricot, phenolic Belgian yeast.

Smooth and creamy, somewhat bitter and peppery. Lingering dry aftertaste. Vague fruitiness thats hard to pin down, though orange and apricot come to mind. PLenty yeasty and phenolic in the taste, following the aroma. Seems pretty solid, a textbook tripel.

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Photo of LXIXME
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A clear golden colored beer beneath a small white head.

Cloves, sour grains, citrus, light spices and probably some other things coming through in a well balanced complex aroma.

Citrus and cloves seems to outweigh light hops, and light grains taste. Kind of different and also kind of good, although I don't know if I could drink a bunch of these, probably get tired of the clove to spice taste pretty quick.

A light dry aftertaste with some lingering spices attached.

This medium bodied beer seems to be a downplayed fall/winter
spiced seasonal and having said that I think I like this better.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a golden color with a nice white head and a bit of lacing as it goes down. The nose brings some slight spice and Belgian yeast as well as a bit of citrus and some light fruits. Taste is a bit of pale spice and light fruit. A good dose of alcohol in there as well. Feel is slightly spicy and boozy with a good body. Drinks fairly well and is better than the blonde I had from them, but perhaps needs a bit of time to mellow.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.91/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on-tap during the recent craft brewers conference in Austin at a party thrown by the guys from Real Ale. Nice guys, but they didn't tell me how strong this was!

It was a hazy orange-copper beneath a full head of off-white froth. The head held well, and it left beautiful creamy walls of lace in its wake. The nose was honeyish and spicy with a bit of alcohol and some phenols that left it perfumey. The mouthfeel was bristling with tiny-bubbled effervescence, and it was medium in body. The flavor followed the lead of the aroma, but added in an orange/citrus side that was unexpeceted. The rye was clear, and it's peppery edge cut through nicely. The bitterness was moderate, as it should have been, with the spiciness of the rye and alcohol keeping it dry. It finished honeyish and dry, with lingering notes of black pepper and phenolics. It's a sipper for sure, and a pint of it during a party was not the way to really enjoy this beer. I'd much rather have had it in a quiet setting as a sipping beer. Still, I enjoyed it nonetheless, but I went back for a pale ale instead. Interesting and enjoyable.

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Photo of mactrail
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.21/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a nice light golden amber with a small head of white on top. A decent amount of side glass lace and a touch of carbonation floating up toward the top.

The smell was a nice smattering of earthy fields of yeast and a touch of light floral hops. Nice cereal grains in the back as well. The flavor was decent, a little soft for a triple though. A ton of hops for the style with a light earthy feel to it. The overall feel of it was nice thlugh with more then adequate carbonation and a tight little profile. For 9% it was extremely drinkable and really the alcohol was completly undetectable.

Overall it was not bad, alothough I have had much better.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.4/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: The beer pours a cloudy, pale golden color with a very small white head.

S: Starts off somewhat sweet and malty, but quickly shifts into a more cidery aroma. Somewhat dry with a bit of apple and pear, maybe just a very subtle banana. There is a touch of yeast and a mild spice character.

T: Sweet and somewhat boozy. Apples, pears, and light notes of banana along with a touch of lemon zest. Somewhat bitter for a Belgian beer. Not much going on, actually.

M: Medium bodied with low to medium carbonation.

O: Could have used a lot more carbonation and significantly more flavor.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 6/5/10 notes. Had at SAVOR in DC.

a - Pours a nice golden color with one inch of white head.

s - Smells of yeast, spices, foral hops, banana, and cloves.

t - Taste is again spice and yeast, and faded hops. Also a little bit of booze comes out in the taste.

m - Medium body and low carbonation.

d - A decent tripel. I thought it smelled very good but wasn't as big a fan of the taste. Would give another shot.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a St. Bernardus goblet.

Thanks to JJFoodie for this bottle!

Devil's Backbone, eh? Sounds sinister. It pours a clear golden straw topped by a half-finger of white micro-foam. The nose banana, clove, pepper, rye bread, lemon zest, and a touch of citrus hops. The taste is similar, though with a heavier tilt toward those hops. As such, the citrus-y bitterness, not unlike an orange rind, is quite pronounced, driving the yeast-y and spicy notes underground, popping up only when able (or when crime is afoot...Turtle Power!). The body is fairly light, with an active carbonation and a somewhat dry finish. Overall, a solid tripel, a bit heavy on the bitters for me, but not enough to ruin things. Worth a try for sure.

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Photo of AlexFields
3.13/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Exiled for sending this one as an extra.

Pours golden yellow with a fairly thin head.

Smells of banana, spice, yeast.

Spicy pepper flavor is dominant, then fades into yeast and some bananas. The longer the beer sits the more banana and sugar there is in the flavor and the less pepper, but initially the pepper is too much and a little bitter.

Very nice mouthfeel, very smooth and creamy but also lots of carbonation.

Just a slight change in the flavor profile and this beer would be a lot better.


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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.29/5  rDev -14.1%
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.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.08/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to AgentZero for the share. This was best before July 8th, 2010. Served in a Surly tulip.

A - Pours with a half-finger of foam that settles to a thin ring, leaving a few clusters of bubbles on top and some decent lace. The body is a hazed peach flesh color with some obvious suspended sediment.

S - The first whiff gave me a light acetone note that was vaguely reminiscent of guava - not sure if these are some odd spicy esters or prelude to infection. However, as it warms there is more stone fruit and candi sugar sweetness.

T - Taste is yeasty, with some honey and stone fruits to sweeten things up. Perhaps there's a bit of pear in there as well. Not bad, but not great - thankfully the weird acetone note is gone and the alcohol is well-hidden.

M - Some gritty and slightly harsh carbonation. The body is a grainy, medium-full, with a sticky finish.

D - It took me much longer to work through my 6oz than it did for Mike - I think I ended up pouring out a bit. I wouldn't bother with this one again.

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Photo of Tone
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, gold color. 1/4 inch head of a white color. Good retention and slight lacing. Smells of hops, alcohol, slight yeast, sweet malt, hint of citrus, and subtle spice. Fits the style of a Tripel. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of alcohol foremost, citrus, sweet malt, slight yeast, spice, and a hint of hops. Overall, good body, blend, and aroma.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

good lookin out for this bottle bobbizzle

A: poured a hazy golden yellow in color with pale pineapple yellow highlights and had a very thin head leaving very little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: there was lots of bubblgumy belgian yeast notes upfront on the nose with spice, sweetness from the malts, mild pear esters, and booze notes.

T: the bubble gum yeasty character was more prominent on the palate with apple, pear, various grain, accents but had lots of sweet maltiness and a touch of booze.

M: the brew was medium on body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, malty, yeasty, slight fruity, spice, and creamy finish.

D: it was drinking average cause the booze was definitely there on the taste but was a solid tripel IMO.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle received as an extra in a recent trade.

Pours a golden, hazy, opaque orange, with a creamy looking 2 inch head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells quite estery, sugary, and a bit boozy, with some pear, citrus, and banana.

I don't usually love tripels, but this one's honestly pretty good. There's some candy sugar, Belgian yeast esters, creamy banana, citrus, apple, pear, and sweet grain. I don't really pick up any hop flavors, as some of the reviewers mentioned.

This has a pretty creamy mouthfeel for a tripel, full bodied and rich, with a moderate level of carbonation.

This is one of the better tripels that I've had.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a clear medium yellow color with a white head, which quickly disappears. The aroma is very fruity with lemons, oranges, pears and mangoes with alcohol, coriander and candi-sugar. The flavor is lemon, peach, oranges and pears with yeast, candi-sugar and spices. The spices are pepper and coriander. Medium mouthfeel and a medium carbonation.

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Photo of John_M
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many thanks to JosephLondon for the opportunity try this fine beer.

The beer pours a solid gold color with pretty good head retention and lacing. The nose is attractive, showing honey, clove, a hint of vanilla and banana, and a touch of ginger. Flavors replicate the nose pretty closely in this moderately sweet beer, though I appreciate the subtle hoppy bitterness in the finish, which helps to counter and balance the honey sweetness and spice. There's even something of a buttery component to this beer, which works well with the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, with a long, spice filled finish. Drinkability is good, with the alcohol pretty well integrated into the flavor profile. You can tell the abv. is up there a bit, but it's not obtrusive or distracting.

Very nice beer from the folks at Real Ale...

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Photo of puboflyons
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From the 12 fl oz bottle with an expiration date of April 17,2017. Sampled on November 13, 2016.

Slightly foggy pale yellow pour under a modest white head.

Nice Belgian toasted bread , Sweetness, and Mild fruit aroma.

Medium body.

The spicy characters really present themselves in the taste with a roasted character and an herbal and spicy finish.

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Photo of maximum12
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to jtrockchalk for this extra in a long-gone trade, as I continue to work through the red-headed stepchildren forgotten in the nether regions of my fridge. Bottle has a best-by date of 9-17-10. Hmmm.

Pours a light golden, sunshiney, halo of a beer with revving carbonation. Magnifyingly clear, I can see my ham-fingers on the other side of the glass. Smell is lovely, a horn full of light fruitiness, apple, honey. If this is past its prime, I'd like to have had it two years ago.

Devil's Backbone has aged just fine: this the nicest beer I've had from Real Ale to date. Same fruity bouquet as in the smell greets the palate with more apple, honeysuckle, pear, a light spice kick in the back. There is an earthiness to it that ticks this down a notch, a mustiness that I don't dig & detracts from the overall airiness of this tripel. Appropriately light for a tripel, but the tilled dirt brings drinkability downwards, too.

Pretty good beer. Without that earth-tinge, this would be a very good tripel, but that muddiness really does the taste no favors.

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Photo of champ103
4.26/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a beautiful hazy golden/honey color. A dense two finger white head forms with excellent retention. Lots of sticky and spiderweb looking lace is left behind. Looks awesome in my Real Ale tulip.
S: Yeast and fruity esters like a good Triple should have. Though an off putting mineral aroma is present.
T: There it is. Lots of peppery, spicy, phenolic flavors. Yeast with fruity esters of bananas. Some pear as well. Some sweet candied sugar and a light lingering bitterness. Very nice.
M/D: A medium body with the perfect amount of carbonation. Very crisp and dry. Devilishly easy to drink. I have to remind myself this is over 8%.

An excellent Triple. I have always enjoyed this on tap when the season came. I am so happy this is now bottled. I think it is even better out of the bottle (which is the only reason I am doing a second review). Probably the best American version I have had of the style. Again, well done Real Ale.

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Photo of glid02
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from Central Market in San Antonio, TX.

Pours a clear yellow-orange color with a one-finger white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of light malts with a lot of residual sugar sweetness. Also present are good amounts of pears with lighter amounts of apricots. Very, very light spiciness is also noticeable as the beer warms.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sweet malt flavors that are bordering on syrupy kick things off. Joining in shortly are good amounts of booze-soaked pear flavors with hints of lighter tropical fruits. The ending is on the sweet side.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without a problem and could have another.

Overall I thought this was a nice tripel but would have liked more complexity. Still, it's worth a shot.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.54/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Becher glass. Best before 28 December 2015.
Clear gold. No head.
Apples and alcohol. Real sweet. Uh oh.
Hmmm. It's okay! Lots of booziness, but not cloyingly sweet. Some Belgian spice, some apple-y sweetness. Hint of clove.
Not a lot to talk about here.
I enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn't have another.

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Devil's Backbone from Real Ale Brewing Company
3.83 out of 5 based on 786 ratings.
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