The stash needs an airing out. And a bit of an emptying. I organized it last night into themes - brewers, styles, that sort of thing - and see that I have some stuff to get through or I will be looking at the some of these beers in 2007. That is all fine and dandy for the big corked Belgians and their kin but a stash is not a vault and these brews have to keep moving.
To that end, we will get into a few of the groupings starting tonight and the first day of Achouffe week or semaine de la Brasserie d'Achouffe. Started in the village of Achouffe, Belgium in 1982 as a hobby, by 1988 it was able to support both owners and by 1992 was noteworthy enough to be mentioned in Pierre Rajoutte's book Belgian Ale. Now, the little red capped guy on every Achouffe label is one of the most recognizable brands in beer. Their beers rate highly at the Beer Advocate. Even the one above made under license by the recently amalgamated Brasseurs RJ from Montreal rates 100%.
I will work my way through these four as I hunt out more information on the brewery and build this post. Add any thoughts you have on this brewer's beer as you like.
- Houblon: The label says Dobbelen IPA Tripel...which gets me all confused from the get go. Double? Triple? IPA? Who cares. If I care about what is one the label and not inside I will start wondering what the think with the kilt and spats on the little red capped guy. The beer pours a lovely clouded gold under a rich off white head that is rockier than any other beer ever made. On the nose there's pear, a note of spruce and another note of nutmeg. At 9% it should be a bit of a beast, but it is smooth yet engrained with pale malt, summer fruit sweet but not cloying, spiced hoppiness with Amarillo Tomahawk and Saaz but not a bomb. Light cream yeast that boosts the final swirl with hits of lemon peel, white pepper and nutmeg. A dry sub-metallic finish with a bit of heat in the belly. $8.39 US for 75 cl. 1% of BAers were whacked with a stick of unhappiness.
- La Chouffe: Ardenne Strong Beer. Another wonderful reminder of what a great gig I have here. White lacing foam over more active - and clearer - golden ale. The head does not have the same rocky qualities and the nose is less complex with more booze apparent even if it is one notch lighter at 8%. In the mouth it is all about the malt - pear, apple and light sultana - framed by a comforting arc of twiggy spiced hop. The mouth feel is big and almost buttery which a whacking load of burlap as well. The water is soft making it very moreish despite the heft. Feed me this in a tube when I am in the nursing home. 1% of BAers are glued to the unhappiness stick.
- McChouffe: thick tan foam over dark mahogany ale, this one is a real delight. Again, the whole beer is framed by the use of soft shalky water that allows the dry chocolate notes to come out. Plum and fig as well. The "Mc" in the beer's name is a nod to the sub-style of Belgian Scots ales, big and round like the stronger ales of Scotland but with a bit of the Abbey as well in the yeast. In McChouffe this means a bit of aged hop burlap and spice under all the chocolate and cream. The result is one of the most moreish beer I have ever had - which makes it tragic that I only have a 33 cl bottle and even more so that this one cost me $4.39 US. An astonishingly well hidden 8.5%. Something came away when 2% of BAers pulled off that stick.
- Blonde d'Achouffe: from Les Brasseurs RJ, Montreal, Quebec. This is an Achouffe made under license by one of Quebec's microbreweries - an interesting concept. The beer might lack that certain something that makes Achouffe so chouffey but it is quite a handsome pale ale in its own right. Gold ale under a large but rapidly dissipating white head (this may be my glass). There is a decent roundness to the malt, framed by orange peel, grape juiciness, boozey heat at the back of the throat as well as spice like cinnamon and nutmeg. The yeast is creamy and fully clouds with the final swirl. The water fairly neutral - certainly not as moreish soft but I am not doing a side by side. Actually after the swirl there is more similarlity to the Belgian original. Maybe I would recommend turning the bottle around a few times first. Certainly worthy and next time I do a side by side as this is closer to the original that I might have first thought, though the grape juiciness in this one might be more pear in the original - that could speak to differing malt choices amongst other things. 100% BA love.