Nectar of the GodsThe World’s Best Belgian-Style Tripel


Following its recent gold medal victory, Nectar of the Gods will be added to Redwood’s permanent brewery selection.

When the silver medal winner in the Belgian-Style Tripel category was announced this past March at the World Beer Cup in Nashville, Redwood Steakhouse & Brewery Brew Master Rockne Van Meter felt it was all over and he would be leaving the competition empty-handed. “Really, I went in hoping for a bronze or silver award. I didn’t think gold was in the cards for me in any category. Brewing the best beer in the world just doesn’t happen,” he says. Having entered five different beers in the competition, he was down to his last chance to receive an award. “I had four of the five make it to the medal rounds but no further.” He had pinned his best hopes on a Belgian-Style Saison that went down in an earlier medal round. The only beer left was his “Nectar of the Gods” – a Belgian-Style Tripel that he nearly didn’t submit. “My wife really liked it,” he remembers. “I wasn’t sure it was up to par. I thought it had no chance.” He was looking to leave the event before the gold medal winner was announced and wasn’t paying attention when his number was called. “I was speaking to my wife when people around me started clapping,” he recalls. The World Beer Cup judges had chosen his “Nectar of the Gods” as the gold medal winner in the Belgian-Style Tripel category. It was Van Meter’s only medal of the competition, one of only three medal-winners in the entire State of Michigan, and the only gold. “I couldn’t believe it,” he commented.

Rockne Van Meter (right) was surprised and thrilled to win the only gold medal of the World Beer Cup competition, one of only three winners in the state.

For Van Meter, the victory was the culmination of over 20 years of brewing experience that started with a home experiment in 2000. “It all began because the beer I enjoyed most was too expensive to buy in the area,” he explains. “I figured I would try to brew it myself. I liked cooking and I liked science so I figured, why not?” He fell in love with the process and in 2002 decided to try his hand at becoming a full-time brewer.

“I left my job and was hired as a brewer the next day at (the former) Big Buck Brewery in Auburn Hills,” he says. He had spent that day going from brewery to brewery, speaking to the owners and sampling their beers. By the time he arrived at Big Buck and tried their samples, he was very nearly tipsy. “I’m pretty sure I was a little drunk for that job interview,” he laughs. “The owner and I got to talking and as I was walking out the door, he called me back in and told me that he almost forgot to offer me the job.” Since then, Van Meter has brewed at Rochester Mills Brewery and spent time at Bastone Brewery in Royal Oak until he was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic. In 2020, he was offered the position at Redwood Steakhouse & Brewery in Grand Blanc Township.

“Whenever I brew, I try to keep everything as authentic as possible. Authenticity is a big step in the right direction.”
Rockne Van Meter, Brewmaster

During his experience, Van Meter has been named the Brewer’s Association Brewer of the Year in 2014, won a variety of awards including gold medals at Michigan’s 2023 World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth and multiple awards at the 2023 International Beer Competition in New York. In New York, his submissions led Redwood Brewing Company to be named 2023 Michigan Brewery of the Year.

The victory at the World Beer Cup was something special. Van Meter competed with 98 entrants in the Belgian-Style Tripel category from all over the world. The category was judged by Belgian experts. “On the whole, Germans judge German beers and Belgians judge Belgian beers,” he explains. “Whenever I brew, I try to keep everything as authentic as possible. I use Belgian grain and hops grown in that part of the world. Authenticity is a big step in the right direction.” His approach to authenticity no doubt helped him secure the victory.

So, what is a Belgian-Style Tripel? The ale was first brewed long ago in the Belgian Trappist Tradition by a protected and certified order of monks, and was initially sold to finance the monastery. The traditional line-up of their wares consisted of a Single, Dubbel, and Tripel. The designations indicated the amount of alcohol-by-volume (ABV) of each. The Single, with the lowest ABV, was usually kept for the monks themselves to consume. The Dubbel was a dark ale with an ABV of 7%. “The Tripel is a beautiful, golden ale with an ABV of 8-10%,” Van Meter adds, “and a Quad has an ABV of 9-12%, with a little more caramel color than a Tripel.” Myth also says that each cask of beer was marked with Xs – a single X indicated the weakest beer, XX for medium-strength, XXX for the strongest; hence Single, Dubbel and Tripel. Van Meter also submitted a Belgian-Style Quad to the World Beer Cup competition that progressed to the medal round but fell short.

Following its recent gold medal victory, Van Meter says that Nectar of the Gods will be added to Redwood’s permanent selection along with a newly brewed Vienna Lager and Redwood Lager. “I’m really excited for our customers to enjoy the three for a long time,” he says. “One more I’m really excited about will only be offered for the summer and that’s our Mexican Lager. It’s currently my beer of choice when I am at home. It’s a perfect light beer for summer, BBQs and more.”

Due to brewing schedules, the lineup has to be determined months in advance. “Ales can take about a month, Belgians a little longer, and lagers can take multiple months to produce,” says Van Meter. “I’m already working on brewing for fall. The timing can get tricky.” Redwood Steakhouse & Brewery typically changes their seasonal offerings a bit. For instance, the summer will be the only time the Mexican Lager will be available. It will be replaced with another, possibly an Oktoberfest brew, and return next year. “I’ll be brewing [the Mexican lager]again for sure,” says Van Meter.

A Mexican Lager (far left) is the current seasonal offering, one of 13 brews on the menu.

This year has been one of triumph for Van Meter and Redwood Steakhouse & Brewery and Van Meter doesn’t plan to stop working toward perfection and authenticity in everything he brews. He looks forward to competing for gold at the Great American Beer Festival in September in Denver, CO.

If you want to try the Belgian-Style Tripel judged best in the world, ask for Nectar of the Gods the next time you visit Redwood Steakhouse & Brewery … it’s certified gold.

Congratulations to Rockne Van Meter and Redwood Steakhouse & Brewery from MCM!  


Comments are closed.