Work Samples

  • Megann Horstead

Tribes debuts new beer at Meet the Brewer Night


Matt Voelker understands how the craft beer industry ebbs and flows.

Like many businesses, Tribes Beer Company and its sales go through a lull during the winter months. To entice patrons, Voelker was working on a batch of the brewery’s new beer, Mon Frere, a Belgian-style Tripel.

The new release served as the featured beer on tap Jan. 16 during Tribes Beer Company’s Meet the Brewer Night.

“Stylistically, it’s different because we don’t have a Belgian [-style] tripel on [tap]—at least of ours,” Voelker said. “As far as Belgians are concerned, the tripel is a little lighter in color, body and character. So, it’s a little bit easier to drink. It’s also higher in alcohol, so it’s kind of deceptive.”

Voelker is the new head brewer at Tribes Beer Company, and he has more than seven years of experience in the craft beer industry.

“Personally, tripels have been my first favorite style,” Voelker said. “I mean, I drank beer before that, but I liked the [India Pale Ale and American] Pale Ale, but when I found my first Belgian [-style] tripel, I was like, ‘Oh, my god. This is amazing. You can have one and feel like you’ve had three beers.’”

Typically, the head brewer will prepare batches of the featured beer for Meet the Brewer Night, have it kegged and place it on tap.

Erin Daly, sales manager for Tribes Beer Company, said this is done immediately because they want everyone to try the new beer.

The Belgin-style tripel commonly has draw among beginning consumers of beer, in part, because they are viewed as fruitier and lighter.

“It has more of an approachable taste to it,” Daly said. “It’s not very bitter.”

Voelker agreed.

“It’s not like opening a typical American-style beer,” he said.

In the past, Tribes Beer Company has placed similarly styled beers on tap.

“We’ve done some Belgians before, but I don’t think we’ve ever did a Belgian [-style] tripel,” Daly said. “This is the very first one. Taste-wise and [Alcohol By Volume]-wise, it’s the first for us.”

The brewery currently has two other Belgian-style beers on tap for patrons to choose from.

When asked how the new release will compare sales-wise to similarly styled beers, Daly said it all depends.

“Sales-wise, time of year makes a difference,” she said. “Belgians are okay throughout the entire year because they have [traces] of fruitiness, and they are a little bit on the lighter side to drink. So, any thing new will probably do really well.”

Patrons do not tend to drink Porters, which are common during the summer months, as much as they usually would.

Going into the spring, the brewery prides itself on timing the release of its new beer.

“I had wanted to release this a little bit sooner because of the higher [concentration of] alcohol,” Voelker said. “It would be good for the winter, like a winter warmer type thing, but it works out better that we waited a little bit longer to release it.”

To try the brewery’s Mon Frere, it cost $7. It is currently on tap at Tribes Beer Company’s Tinley Park and Mokena locations, both of which open for business from 11:30 a.m.-12 a.m. Sunday through Tuesday and 11:30 a.m.- 1 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

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