Devil's Backbone | Real Ale Brewing Company

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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: 176 | Ratings: 782
Photo of L0ne
3.69/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From backlog. 12oz bottle, January 2015.

Pours a hazy yellow/orange with a small white head. Passable attempt at a Belgian tripel by a small(ish) Texas brewery. Banana/fruity esters, spices(maybe clove?), some booziness, herbal hops. Liked it ok, but probably wouldn't seek it out. Glad I just got a single instead of a sixer.

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Photo of Myotus
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle (best by date 15Dec15) into a snifter.
LOOK: Pours with a line of white foam that just sits there. Gold in color with an extreme amount of cloudiness. No rising bubbles can be seen. Lacing is subtle and thin.
SMELL: A bunch of mild aromas: candied sugar, bananas, cloves, pears, and white grapes. Subtle aromas of spicy hops with hints of pale malts and earthy yeast can also be detected.
TASTE: Intial taste is composed of strong clove flavors that mix with mild banana flavors. Mild pear, white grape, and candied sugar flavors enter next along with subtle pale malt flavors. Finally, a hint of earthy yeast finishes off this brew as all previous flavors persist. Whatever hop flavors that were smelled cannot be tasted.
FEEL: Medium-bodied and highly carbonated (makes me wonder why there weren't any bubbles). Goes down smooth, regardless of the carbonation amounts. Finishes with the most subtle of drynesses.

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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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Photo of HipCzech
3.89/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving: 12 oz bottle ("best before Mar 13 2016") poured into a Spiegelau beer tulip.

Appearance: Slightly hazy, bright gold with a frothy cap of white foam and short lived spots of lace.

Smell: Golden raisins, spicy Belgian yeast and alcoholic esters.

Taste: Spicy and sweet: Belgian yeast, cloves, tropical fruit and slight bitterness. Finishes relatively dry and with slight alcoholic bite.

Mouthfeel: Medium body moderately carbonated.

Overall: Not quite as big or complex as a Tripel could be, but still tasty and drinkable.

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Photo of Slamms
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Legitimately a tripel; Not a waste of money. Not sure much more I can say than that. Best attribute is aroma, which immediately smells like a legitimate tripel in the bottle. Taste is spicy; fruity notes later. Big let down is lack of head. Someone below said medium carbonation, and another said heavy. Definitely light carbonation in my case. Expiration date 11/15, so 5 months short of that, fwiw. Tasted fresh, so not getting the small carbonation. Better experience straight out of the bottle. Not bad. Edit Actually the head is OK once it warms up. I think I prefer this over Golden Monkey, if that says anything. Comparable to GM as a passable American attempt at a Tripel.
Edit: I was out of my mind to say this was better than Golden Monkey. GM is much better. But this beer is still basically OK, I guess.

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Photo of OKbrew89
3.45/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Hazy golden color with one finger head that leaves decent lacing. Certainly smells like a tripel with the candied citrus, yeast, and coriander. Taste was yeast and spice with floral hops on the end. The sweetness was subtle and slightly overpowered by the spices. Medium carbonation and medium body with a little kick of alcohol in the aftertaste.
I'd call it a good starter tripel. It didn't have the sweetness and kick I expected.

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Photo of Caj1
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I like the Real Ale brewery from the tiny town of Blanco, Texas. They are obviously dedicated to their craft and get some pretty decent results. Devil's Backbone is a good introduction to the style; it manages to be unique enough to get your attention, but not so out in left field that it's offputting. It's definitely ale and seems like it's for real.

Appearance is a nice, mellow pale golden color. Murky since it's unfiltered, but seems to have fairly good carbonation. Good 2 finger head that doesn't stick around extremely long. Has moderate lacing. Reminds me of a hefeweizen or witbier.

Smell is fruity with a good split of hop floral notes and esters like banana and nice resinous wood.

Taste is first a good wallop of spice and herbal notes like pepper and cloves and an undertone of citrusy hops. Mixed with light alcohol astringency and it makes a solid bite. Then the fruity flavors come through with another bite of spice, followed by sweetness and malty grain.

Mouthfeel is warm and a little sticky, but also very smooth and crisp.

I am not a huge fan of these sweet, malty beers because of their tendency to be a little cloying and this is no exception. However, this beer manages to strike a nice balance of fruit, spice and a touch of bitterness while still being refreshing and warming. Nice job overall. Just be careful of the buzz afterward.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
3.12/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Murky apricot color, bright white foam and lots of carbonation. Spicy nose. Very clovey with a spicy middle; there is a malt foundation, but the clove is cloying. Medium lite mouthfeel. Just ok.

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Photo of Kennymack
5/5  rDev +30.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This has to be my favorite beer ever. It starts out tart and finishes creamy smooth. The coriander flavor comes through nicely. This is a perfect all year drink.

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Photo of angelmonster
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazy orange color, head is 1/4 inch and white.Tiny bubbles rushed upwards for quite some time.

Smell is of coriander seed, clove, hay, Belgian yeast and allspice. Smell of alcohol is light and hops aren't present.

Taste is big on Belgian/German yeast strains. Getting lots of clover, banana/witch hazel esters. Sweet honey and orange mix with clove and some licorice. Alcohol sticks to the finish, a bit abrasive for 8%.

Mouthfeel is light and highly carbonated. Head dissipated quickly offering not much texture.Beer ends dry and astringent.

Overall it was a good Texas attempt at a classic Belgian style. Very rough around the edges though, wouldn't buy again when you can get Delirium or Triple Karmelit.

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Photo of ed_loves_ipa
3.12/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Great buzz, soft hop profile, more like an ale, but too pungent and sweet. Not my cup of tea. I'm more of a bitter IPA, RIPS fan. Took about 3 to 4 bottles to get used to it. No great, but not horrible. Eh....

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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 BirFan
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%

Nice combination of fruit and alcohol, with a decidedly sweet finish. It's definitely a Tripel, though not as rich and full as some of my other favorites, especially among the Belgians. Good enough, however, that I buy it when I can, and look forward to it year round. Great color and taste, but not quite as much head as I might like. Love to drink it on tap sometime: only had it from the bottle so far.

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Photo of shwami
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Flowery nose; oily mouthfeel...definitely tastes like a tripel...alcohol fairly prominent...non-existent head, which was disappointing, although maybe it was a bit too chilled. Pretty good tripel from one of the best brewers in South Texas.

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Photo of jcance
4.75/5  rDev +24%

Generally I tend to prefer a strong, hoppy IPA, but this has been one of my favorit beers since I discovered it a year or so ago at the grocery store. Most often when I drink beer I am looking for a thick, strong, and bitter hops taste. I prefer my beers be skunky rather than tasteless. This beer however is the primary exception. While it is mild on hops and goes down light, it will inebriate the bejesus out of you and tastes like nothing else I've had thus far in my quests.

When I first tried this brew, I had not been avidly sampling different varieties of beer for very long. I found it to be easy to drink, wildly stong, and almost nondescript in flavor. However, my tastes have certainly changed a significant amount since I first tried this, and my decision to make an account on this website was actually inspired by the profound flavor I noticed upon trying this for the first time in a few months.

This beer has a really sophisticated flavor. It is mildly bitter with a moderate-low amount of carbonation. The really intriguing aspects of the flavor, though, lie mainly in aftertaste. The only way I can describe the taste is as "smoky." But not "cigarette smoky," more like, "this beer spent some time over an open mesquite fire smoky." I truly doubt that that is part of the brewing process but it's the only way I can describe it. This beer goes down very smooth, has a full, rich, almost chocolatey smoked flavor that, for me, provides a nice and drastically different break from the IPA flavors I'm most used to. I have not tried all of Real Ale's brews - the only ones I am familiar with are this, Fireman's Four, and Fireman's Four Squared - but I assume they are all of quality. This, however, I believe is a really special drink. Fireman's Four and Squared are mild, yet strong enough and rich in flavor. But I have really never tasted anything like Devil's Backbone.

In short, this beer is exactly what you would expect from a beer made in Texas named "Devil's Backbone". In a friend's words, "it's gotta be fucked up if it's got a name like Devil's Backbone."

These words are true; this beer has a high ass ABV, with deceptively smooth flavor that can lead to severe drunkenness (comparable ABV beers such as Dogfish Head 90 Minute or New Belgium Rampant tend to remind me exactly how potent they are with their flavor intensity and thickness, while this brew goes down easy like a light beer but hits just as hard), and unique, smoky, crisp overtones that have serious nostalgic value for a guy who was raised in and has lived in Texas his whole life. Sipping this I am reminded of outdoor fire pits and the sensation of warmth in the winter. I seriously recommend this beer for anyone who has the opportunity to try it. It might be a little more expensive than some of the other Real Ale brews or a larger pack of lower quality beer, but trust me, it's worth it. If I could get paid to tattoo this beer's label across my back I would. Enjoyd

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Photo of FLima
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Hazy golden color with a thin head with short retention.
Aroma of white grapes, candi sugar, sweet peaches and pineapples, and banana.
Flavor of white grapes, pears, candi sugar, pineapples, herbal hops, banana, cloves, green apples, mild white pepper, Belgian yeast and coriander. Dry aftertaste with a mild acidity and bitterness.
Medium body with tripel effervescent carbonation. Alcohol of 8.1% is superbly well hidden.
Very decent tripel and faithful to style. It is quite fruity, balancing to the tropical side.
Ap.3 Ar.4 Sab.3,75 Sens.3,75 Cj.3,75

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Photo of AtrumAnimus
4.75/5  rDev +24%

This one pours a very nice light golden color with minimum cloudiness. There is a nice thick long lived head that settles very slowly and leaves good lacing that eventually retreats down the sides of the glass as well.

The nose is aromatic, bready and sweet with notes of nutmeg, coriander and alcohol.

The flavor is a nice spicy tripel with alcohol and bread notes to match the nose along with some citrus, pepper, vanilla and a tinge of hops.

Overall this is an excellent example of the style with a nice Texas tinge. I highly recommend it.

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Photo of mblk6062
4.54/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a staple in my beer fridge. I am lucky to live in Dripping Springs, Texas which is only a few miles from the brewery, located in Blanco. Real Ale makes fantastic brews (Fireman's 4 is another staple), and even though they are a very high quality house, we can get alot of their great stuff in just about any convenience store/gas station in the Hill Country. As a huge aficianado of Belgian Ales (especially Trippels - best in the world, IMHO), I had tried many so called craft "Belgian Trippels" before with usually great disappointment, but I was blown away by this one when Real Ale introduced it in 2010 - they got it right, and they have kept on doing that!

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Photo of ElegantRose
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

With the apparent color of this beer like that of liquid apricots made effervescent alcohol, and the bubbles resembling what one might find in a cider, and they would be quite right in their assumption that this is an interesting take on a Belgian Tripel.

As alluded to previously, the bubbles are sparse, and the head non-existent after less than one minute. The mouthfeel, while originally temptingly Belgian, now (after five minutes) has become far more thin. I like a robust mouthfeel, and while the flavors are there (delicious coriander and orange), there is no lasting aftertaste, though I will state that there is a whisper of elegance that carries the beer through.

A bit of background: this beer has been aged approx. 7 months. There is a listed warning to drink by 3/29/14. It is currently July 2014. Usually there is not a 'sell-by' date on beer, and one can usually age Belgian beer many years if desired. Therefore, not a true Belgian beer, but an attempt on the style.

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Photo of jokelahoma
3.39/5  rDev -11.5%
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.

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Photo of a0lbudman
3.81/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of ranger7
3.84/5  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.

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Photo of Hoptometrist
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap into a shaker glass.

A- Poured a light golden color with frothy white head that left some chunky lace.

S- Very fragrant floral, lemon, and citrus notes in the aroma. Not bad, but unexpected for the style.

T- Sweet Belgian candy sugar, bubblegum, clove, honey sweetness, some vanilla and caramel notes. Quite a bit of alcohol in the taste too.

M- A little sticky, full bodied, big alcohol warming, and slight alcohol burn.

O- A pretty nice American take on a tripel that had a lot of character, but the booze came through pretty prominently even for the style.

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Photo of brurevu
4/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

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Photo of fourstringer
3.13/5  rDev -18.3%
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...

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Devil's Backbone from Real Ale Brewing Company
3.83 out of 5 based on 782 ratings.
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