On Rotation’s MP3 Sings An Interesting Tune, But Does It Belong In Your Playlist?

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on On Rotation’s MP3.

Fast Facts on On Rotation MP3.
Style: Belgian Tripel.
ABV: 7.9 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 24.
Color: Deep orange.
Availability: Draft only, at On Rotation.

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Overview.
Sitting here at the bar, at On Rotation, I can see in to the brewhouse. It looks like two of its fermenters are mid-stream on brewing up a batch of beer. There are six orange hoses perched on the kettle. It’s mostly quiet back there.

But that’s not to say that this brewery hasn’t been busy of late. On Rotation isn’t exactly trying to be a round-the-clock, shift-brewer sort of operation after all. Unlike most nights I visit here when the bartop is hoppin’, the bartop tonight is somewhat empty, with occasional comers-and-goers ordering drinks. It just happens to be a slow night — here by the taps, anyway. Toward the other end of the joint, a group of 30 people crowd around board games. It’s Boards and Brews night here at On Rotation. Sounds fun — count me in some time.

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Background on Belgian Tripel.
The tripel style sits somewhat high up on the booze range for its parent category, Trappist Ales. This style was originally brewed by Trappist monks (duh) in Belgium, and others quickly copied. According to the beer world, the term Trappist is reserved only for beers brewed by actual Trappist monks. So chances are that you will not see any beer with said term on it unless you visit a monastery.

The tripel style is a highly attenuated, big beer — so be ready with your helmet for a style of this ilk. This style is known to be very aromatic, with both ester and phenol notes very present, almost in an aggressive sort of manner. The ale yeasts used in this style can stand up to a large amount of alcohol, and help pepper in a lot of the spice, clove and citrusy/orange flavors that are common byproducts of fermentation.

This style is absolutely not your cookout nor your poolside drinker. Rather, it’s normally served in large-format bottles and has sat through a bottle conditioning process, further raising its carbonation and developing more richness in flavor.

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Appearance.
MP3 pours a deep orange sort of color. The style guidelines call for a fairly clear beer; this is not the case here, but that’s OK, I guess. I suspect it’s the peach and mango additions that may keep things on the muddy side. Also, I would guess that On Rotation lets time, gravity or gelatin — pick two — clear its beers rather than go through the pain in the ass to filter them, especially with the batch size that On Rotation cranks out.

Aroma.
I get a ton of fruit and a subtle tease of alcohol on the nose. Unlike some other local, more boozy beers, MP3 doesn’t seem like it’s too concerned with letting me know what I’m about to get in to, alcohol-wise. Other than the initial hint of booze on the nose, I get that classic, round sweetness and bready orange sort of sensation, immediately turning my senses toward a Belgian experience. The hop aroma is fairly low, which is A-OK for the style.

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Flavor.
There is no doubt about it that there’s some serious phenolics going on here. And the fruit is a major player, too. I don’t know how much peach and mango are added to MP3, but I’m happy with the addition in any amount; the fruit helps turns down the initial harshness and hotness I get from the alcohol. This beer keeps telling me that there’s alcohol here, and I have to keep reminding myself that a beer with this much richness isn’t that high on the ABV scale. It just teases me, and keeps it up all the way through my first pour. As this beer warms, it seems like more of the peach and mango notes spring to life and take over. I like that! The malt is present, no doubt, but I’m more focused on all of these interesting fermentation byproducts and fruit flavors.

Mouthfeel.
The carbonation is nice and high on MP3. It tickles my tongue, and I enjoy it. For a tripel, this beer is on the lower ABV range. So I don’t get that crazy sweetness and roundness that I might get on, say, a 9.5 percent ABV tripel. As I get farther in to this serving, I feel a warmth taking over, but MP3 backs away from taking a turn toward the dreaded over-fusel situation.

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Overall Impression.
I’m a fair weather fan of MP3. This is one of those beers that I feel like I need to be in the mood to drink. If someone plunked this beer down in front of me, I certainly wouldn’t refuse it, but there’s a richness and complexity to the tripel style that makes it not your every-Wednesday-night sort of beer. MP3 does not disappoint in any of the sensory departments, though. And I don’t detect any crazy or unbalanced off flavors either.

Score.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give On Rotation MP3 a 7.5.

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What’s happening in the area brew scene?
• Sunday, September 4. Labor of Love Homebrew Competition at Deep Ellum Brewing Co.
• Saturday, September 10. Brewfest at Dallas Farmers Market.
• Thursday, September 15-18. Addison Oktoberfest at Addison Circle Park.
• Saturday, September 17. Barks, Brews & BBQ at Intrinsic Smokehouse and Brewery.
• Thursday, September 22-24. Oktoberfest Fort Worth at Panther Island Pavilion.
• Saturday, October 1. Texas Beer Camp at Long Road Farm.
• Saturday, October 1. Rahr & Sons Oktoberfest 5K Run/Walk.
• Saturday, October 8. BeerFeast at Flying Saucer Fort Worth.
• Saturday, November 12. Untapped: Dallas at Fair Park.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
Grapevine’s Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse: 7.5.
Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
Legal Draft Beer Company’s Accused: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Oak Highlands Brewery’s Oktoberfest.: 7.25.
Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
Rahr’s Visionary: 7.
Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Martin House’s The Juice: 6.5.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s Troll Toll: 5.5.
Martin House’s Hell Below: 5.5.
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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