Bison Organic Belgian Ale | Bison Brewing

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Bison Organic Belgian AleBison Organic Belgian Ale
62 Ratings
Bison Organic Belgian AleBison Organic Belgian Ale

Brewed by:
Bison Brewing
California, United States

Style: Tripel

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 12-01-2003

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Ratings: 62 |  Reviews: 57
Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev +5.4%

Photo of BEERchitect
3.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Predictibly similar to most American Brewed Belgian beers. All American (local) ingredients, but with a Belgian-ish yeast. The ingredients really don't come together in the same way that the vernacular Belgian ingredients do. There is nothing really missing, but the beer doesn't really come together. It has a brightly colored yellow with a mild haze and abundant carbonation. The head retention falls short, but the aromas are peppery, spicy, estery, fruity, and malty. Tastes sweet with peaches, pears, candy sugar, and pilsner malts. The beer remains bready and cookie-dough-like. But there is a grainy / bite-ey catch in the back of the throat. The smoothness gives way suddently midway through the sip. This leaves the body breaking up and the finish astringent. The hotness of the alcohol follows up in the aftertaste and muddles the drinkability. Though I may not buy many of these, I'm not going to turn my nose up at it either.

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Photo of brentk56
3.48/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy golden color with a modest head, despite a vigorous pour; some lacing initially until the head fades

Smell: The coriander sure comes through along with some fruit but there is also some acetone that makes the overall effect unpleasant

Taste: We start out with an unusual first impression that is vaguely fruity and peppery, with an undertone of candi sugar; all of this is understated relative to what one would expect from a tripel; after the swallow, a surprising peppery spice comes through that is a combination of the coriander and the hops

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Despite its flaws (and it would do poorly in a homebrew competition if entered as a tripel), I found the beer rather drinkable; it's a combination pale ale/tripel that forges its own way; not particularly distinguished but not half bad

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.3/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle (shared with Capflu, DumDum and Lubière): Poured a light golden color ale with a small head without much retention. Floral aroma with weak Belgian yeast. Taste is a mix between some coriander, a bit of candi sugar and some subtle floral malt. Body is definitely too thin and this beer lacks character. Thanks Lubière.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.17/5  rDev +25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Carefully poured, Bison's Organic Belgian Ale delivers a beautifully clear, golden-orange body beneath a short but creamy head of bright-white foam that dissipates quickly but still manages to leave some nice lace about the glass. Coriander is clearly evident in the nose, backed by some honeyish malt and notes of citrus rind. It's somewhat dextrinous and smooth across the palate; although it's very-fine bubbled, natural carbonation initially lends a light zest to the tongue. Fruit dominates the flavor once a quick sprinkling of spice has passed, with notes of peach, apricot, orange, and a subtle hint of lemon. (And the actual flavor from the grain is very nice... they must be using some good malt!). It's sweet, but not overly so; and the spice is nicely balanced to lend both flavor and a bit of zest. The bitterness is kept to a minimum, as it should be, and the spice helps to balance its sweetness and usher in a raspy, dry finish that lingers with coriander and a drip of honeyish malt. It's clean throughout; and there's no hint whatsoever of the 8.1% abv. A bit more complexity would be nice, and the lack of head retention is a bit disappointing; but overall this is a really enjoyable beer with a rich character and a good deal of drinkability.

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Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev +5.4%

Photo of oberon
3.07/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a not so tripel looking dull golden with not much head to speak of no haze and no blooming head.Big coriander nose almost nothing else,after grinding some coriander seeds for chili just a half hour before this smells nearly identical maybe a touch of smoke in there as well.Flavors as well with big coriander tones and smoke with a hint a light hint of apricot.Whoo this should be labeled Bison coriander spiced beer because its dominant to much so,wont drink again.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.43/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Lightly smoky amber-orange with a diminishing number of uprushing bubbles that occupy all points on the speed spectrum. The head is an attractive shade of aged ivory and shows off a supremely pitted upper surface. Unfortunately, it collapses too quickly. A decent amount of thick, sudsy lace is deposited in circumferential rings.

The nose is unimpressive. I can appreciate pale malt, earthy hops and a smattering of spice. As far as identifying the ingredients that I know to be present... fuggedaboutit. Cascade hops? Nope. Coriander? Uh-uh. No matter how much my rational mind knows it not to be true, I can't escape the impression that some organic beer has a mildly unpleasant off-aroma and off-flavor. There is no common ingredient that should make it so, but still...

BOBA is better on the palate. At least now it's identifiable as a tripel, or a 'Trippel-style' ale, as the brewery prefers to call it. It's hard to say how much sweetness is provided by pale malt due to the generous use of Belgian candi sugar. This is likely to be one of sweetest versions of the style that you'll ever run across. It borders on cloying and will make getting through the entire bomber a bit of a chore.

The ingredients that were barely detectable in the nose are more identifiable on the palate. There's a bitter citrusiness (two parts grapefruit to one part orange) that just has to be Cascade hops. The spiciness is clearly coriander in origin (an unusual ingredient in a tripel). Thankfully, the brewers haven't skimped on quantity. While the flavor is enjoyable on one level, it lacks the depth of the best Belgian tripels.

The finish is on the long side and is dominanted by sugar syrup-soaked hops and coriander. As it progresses, the sweetness evaporates and one is left with an austere dryness not unlike that which is experienced when drinking the 'sweeter' varieties of liquor. Ethanol is incompletely masked and is slightly more fusel-like than is optimal. Given the relatively high sugar load, the mouthfeel manages to avoid being thick and sticky, mostly because the abundant carbonation never exhausts itself.

Bison Organic Belgian Ale is a passable attempt at a Belgian Tripel. All of the requisite style elements are in place, but it lacks cohesiveness on the palate. Although I applaud the decision to tackle a style unfamiliar to many American brewers, I can't recommend the final product.

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Photo of Billolick
3.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bomber, brewer gives us no indication of freshness...Pours cloudy lighter peach, under an initially crazy huge off white head, that slowly dissolves to merainge and again slowly to a thick film and loads of stickage on the glass. Plenty of orange and coriander in the pungent nose. I get notes of pepper, coriander, oranges, and Belgian yeasty phenolics, but things just seem to be a bit of a crazy and hazy mess here with fruit, yeast, and then quite dry and citric hops kicking late. An ambitious beer, that is close but not quite there.

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Photo of WesWes
3.75/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a gold color with a thick frothy white head that quickly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich pale malt and candi sugar scent that seems light with a slightly warm aroma. It has a fine hop aroma as well as an earthy breadlike scent; very nice. The taste is decent. It has an extremely smooth pale malt taste some bisquit flavors. It is light with some residual sweetness on the finish. It's not as rich as you would expect. The mouthfeel is decent as well. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a lighter tripel than I'm used to. I guess a thicker body would be more traditional. This is a highly drinkable tripel. The hops add excellent balance and in turm drinkability. It warms only slightly; a good drinker.

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Photo of RBorsato
2.68/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Apricot in color with little to no large white bubbles for a head and low slow carbonation. Fruity almost orange peel aroma but smells very artificial ... strange considering this is organic :-). Very similar flavor with a light alcohol note on the finish; more like a wit than a tripel. Light-medium bodied and flat.

Sub-par tripel and sub-par wit. Pass.

Per Label: "Since 1989" & "Tripple-style ale with Belgian candi Systals, Organic Cascade hops" & "Brewer's reserve" (per sticker on cap)

Per Bison website: Ground Coriander

Tasted: 03/24/06

($4.99 / 22 oz.)

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Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a flattish clear golden brew, looks like a Belgian trippel.

Smell is sweet with a scent of coriander and flowers. The bottle says there is a plum scent, I didn't smell that, just coriander and flowers.

Taste is sweet but not overly so. Mild coriander flavor and the flowers, tastes more like a Saison than a Belgian really. Fruit is there and is milder than most trippels.

Mouthfeel is good.

A tasty Belgian style brew, this is a good one for those that find most Belgians too sweet.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled May 2007
Absolutely brilliantly clear with a washed out cranberry tinged, copper color. The head starts out about two-fingers thick and is an almost white colored head. Quite fruity smelling with notes of orange zest, bergamot, a touch of kiwi, and Macintosh apples (though it mostly smells of bergamot). Actually bergamot is quite an apt descriptor as this definitely reminds me of the citrus notes in earl grey. Touches of earthy spice aromas also meld in to the aroma.

The flavor has an astringent spiciness to it in the finish that adds a bit of sharpness and ultimately provides a balance to the upfront, sweet orange peel flavors. Quite a bit sweeter than I would like, I almost thick that this beer has been heavily filtered, but it might have just have some very retarded Belgian yeast character. Very clean tasting, definitely too much so, but it is still fairly tasty. An earthy spiciness somewhere between coriander, menthol and dandelions.

The use of cascade hops is surely not very traditional (did they use citrus peel on top of this), but it is the lack of yeast character that keeps this beer from being great. Still it is quite tasty and definitely quite drinkable. This hides the alcohol fairly well, but after some time the alcohol becomes apparent in the aroma.

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Photo of shelby415
3/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of scruffwhor
3.74/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Always seems to be the problem with American brewers trying to replicate a tripel is that they can't get the awesome carbontion of the real Belgian delights. The honey amber color is tehre. But a long lasting, doughy head and thorough carbonation. The aroma is a nice candy-rific malt reminiscent of syrupy fruits. The taste is close to the smell but with more of an alcoholic burn. The taste is where we see a departure from a goo mimic of a tripel. The alcoholc isn't incorporated or hidden as well as its authentic counterparts. Very fruits and light hints of brown and candy sugary malts. No bitterness from the hops of course. Just the alcohol.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.66/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Poured from 20 oz bottle into Watou chalice.

Appearance: Extremely clear yellow, with almost no head at all. The bubbles (not foam) that did form during the pour dissipated in seconds.

Smell: Strong belgian yeast-type aroma, very inviting.

Taste: Very very sweet, with almost no carbonation. You can taste the effect of the coriander.

Notes: Not bad, but the lack of carbonation made me wonder if this bottle was finished refermenting... I liked the sweet taste and the low cost ($4.99 per 20oz), but it will take some arm-twisting for me to buy this again.

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Photo of GraduatedCashew
3.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of ccrida
2.46/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bomber poured into my large Gulden Draak tulip. Bison's Belgian Ale is gold with a large white head that leaves fairly heavy lace.

Smell is coriander and a bit soapy. Way strong citrus.

Taste is also a spice bomb, heavy coriander. The lemon notes accentuate the sweetness, but the spiciness is overwhelming for me. I'm not impressed.

Mouthfeel is dry, with a sharp, lingering, spicy finish.

Drinkability is on the lower side, I really dislike beers that are so obviously spiced, all I can taste is coriander. This even overshadows the fact that their brand is generally value priced. When the beer isn't good, even the low price doesn't make it a value.

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Photo of Gusler
3.5/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer after its emancipation from the 22-ounce brown bottle sets in the glass a shining clear gold color with the head portly in size and a creamy white with the residual lace a thin velum like sheet. Nose is slightly musty sweet malt, crisp and clean with the start modestly sweet and the grain profile adequate, top is middling in its feel to the palate. Finish is biting in its acidity and the hops pleasantly spicy; aftertaste is desert bone dry with a slight hint of alcohol bitterness, a drinkable beer.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.89/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – The body is “flat soda” orange and light. That’s OK, but what’s not OK is the complete lack of carbonation. This is supported by other BA reviews, so I don’t think I got a bad bottle.

Smell – Very sticky sweet, spicy malts lead the way here with a nice hop balance. It’s the fruits though that run this show. The orange and peach in particular stand out. Otherwise, it’s a bit yeasty at times with some big coriander and white pepper.

Taste – The bitter orange almost reminds me of a pale ale. This is very well-balanced. I enjoy also the spicy malts and complex fruiting along with that sharp candy-type of sweetness. There are some nice watermelon flavors in there too, which you don’t find very often.

Mouthfeel – Medium-bodied and very exciting in the mouth, due mostly to the spices. I didn’t care for the lack of carbonation, though. On the other hand, I liked that little alcohol sting. It was just right in my book.

Drinkability – I’m not going to can this review just because it’s uncarbonated, mainly because all the other components of a good Abbey Tripel were present. It was a distraction, though, I must admit.

Comments: This Abbey Tripel had almost no nose until it warmed. Take your time rating this one.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.77/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber. Nice but average looking ale, bright, clear golden yellow with a very small white head, that goes very quick. Aroma is spicy with what i pick up as dark honeyeish tones, slightly yeasty and curiously i pick up dry roasted peanut!!! Nice semi-sweet malty taste finished off by pepper like spices an some hint of dark fruits,lemon skin and clove. Its rather average on the palate but I think this helps out in a beer this strong in alcohol and flavour. Overall a nice beer, nothing fancy but drinkable.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Presentation: 22oz Bomber, picked up for $3.49. Most noticeable is the purple & charcoal paper strip that covers the crown cap and which is adhered to the front of the tall neck by a green and white roundel sticker that has the words ‘USDA Organic’ on it. The main label lists the beer as ‘Bison Organic Belgian Ale’, stated as 8.1% by Vol. No freshness date.

The blurb states “Our organic “Tripple-Style ale contains hints of fruit. Most notably plum, and was made with authentic Belgian Candi crystals, organic malts, water and yeast. The brew is balanced with a robust maltiness, a touch of coriander, and the subtle spiciness of organic Cascade Hops”

Appearance: It pours with a nice looking deep golden with amber-yellow hints when backlit. A small white head formed as the beer settled but disappeared as quickly as it formed. Once stabilized in the Goblet it has a very thin halo head that is completely devoid of any presence over the surface area of the beer. Medium-low carbonation and some active streamers give the beer some life and are the only things that prevent a dour ‘flat’ appearance.

Nose: Spicy fruity malts with some light hops. It has a nice nose similar to that of many other good Tripels, but just a little more reticent to let you know this, the odors are feint at times.

Taste: A spicy malt starts the beer, hops and coriander twang. It is pleasant and immediately relaxes the drinker, but it has a little raw quality to it which never really goes away. The alcohol is partially hidden, and only really comes through in the ending when it adds mild warmth to the swallow. A nice enough Tripel, but a little raw at times, and often restrained.

Mouthfeel: Above average mouthfeel that is aided by a large sweet malt character but sometimes detracted by the rather low carbonation lending a ‘heavy and lifeless’ feel to the beer at times.

Drinkability: The lack of any real carbonation can make this beer a little heavy going. In conjunction with the sticky sweetness and raw character that this beer has, makes one Bomber enough, I noticed that it took me a while to finish this one; I slowed as I worked my way down the bottle.

Overall: A little unrefined for a Tripel, and at times the sweetness has a sticky aspect to it. Not bad, but not one that I would invest in again, I would much prefer to pay the extra and have a Westmalle any day of the week.

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Photo of hopdog
3/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tastes from a 22oz/bomber bottle.

Poured a medium and cloudy yellow color with a small sized white head. Spicy and fruity aromas. Tates of the some spiciness and fruitiness. Some apples.

I joted down that this was an OK tripel, but no where near the quality of a Belgian.

Notes from 12/7/04

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Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bit milder than the average Tripel, which can get a bit rough around the edges at times. Nice level of sweetness, with some fruity notes that were not cloying. Smooth at the end, and the abv was not evident with any heat or pepper in the flavor. Drinkability was quite nice.

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.41/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle, poured to a goblet.

A: Clear, glowing pale orange with 1/2 finger of white head and tiny wisps of lace/residual film. An attractive beer, though less "golden" than a typical tripel.

S: Very sweet maltiness. Coriander is present but there's a sort of artificial-smelling sweet pineapple or banana smell present. For an organic beer to smell like it had additives is interesting...

T: Spicy and relatively dry. Despite all the sweetness in the smell, the taste is mild on the esters but heavier on the spices, pepper. The fruitiness does give some sweetness and but the cascade hops balance that with bitterness.

M: Medium-body mouthfeel with bitterness lingering on the tip of the tongue and a fuller, sweeter maltiness in the rest of my mouth.

D: I certainly had no problem finishing this beer; it does taste good. Whether I'd settle for this version of a tripel or go with a different choice is unclear. A pretty good effort by Bison, brewing against a great style that's done so well by the Belgian brewers. Worth a try.

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Bison Organic Belgian Ale from Bison Brewing
Beer rating: 3.32 out of 5 with 62 ratings