892: La Chouffe

Name: La Chouffe
Brewery: Brasserie d’Achouffe
Country of Origin: Belgium
City & State: Achouffe, Belgium
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 8%
First Brewed: 1982
Price: $5.99

Tasting Notes

Refreshing despite its strength, the sometimes overwhelming coriander spicing of this golden ale seems to be more in balance with the honeyish malt since Duvel purchased the brewery.

Ricky’s Thoughts

We have tried a bottle from Brasserie d’Achouffe… the theme song is the only reason I remember why. The little elves are so cute! The bottle is big, too. For the price, you can’t beat this Belgian strong pale ale. Of course I say that having not had it… but trusting that an 8% 750ml bottle would be plenty for an evening by the fire. Or on the patio! (Not much fire here in the desert I imagine.)

In the Glass: It looks like a wheat beer in the glass. When I opened the giant green bottle, the spices rushed to my nostrils. I guess that is why they call it a “strong” pale ale. Maybe not. But I am glad that I was able to listen to the theme song once again. It’s so fun!

Nose: The spices are really coming through in the aroma. It has a very strong yeast scent coming in… and I am really not digging the pale aspect. I wonder if they make pale ales different in Belgium than they do here in the United States. Speaking of that, I am thinking about becoming a Cicerone. Has anyone ever done that? I am not even sure where that begins… but would be a fitting certification.

Flavor: The flavor is quite strong, as well. The spices come through quite a bit at first, then settle down as you swallow. Then the dryness that you expect from a spicy beer comes full force toward the end of the swallow and into the aftertaste. There is quite a bit of carbonation on the front of the palate. At first it reminds me of a Brett. I don’t like Brett beers, but this one I can handle.

Mouthfeel: There is a lot of carbonation at the front, but that is quickly gone as the flavors take over. The beer is 8% ABV, and you would never know it. It drinks like a typical American lager. I say that in the way it drinks, and the smoothness as it goes down. It’s a pale, but I still don’t get any of the bitterness that I expected from a pale.

Aftertaste: The aftertaste is nice. It has some strong spice notes, and then the dryness that you expect out of an Irish stout kicks in. Not really sure where the dryness comes from, but am a big fan of the finish. The bottle says it is an “artisanal Belgian golden ale brewed with spices”. Those spices are there from the time you pop the top until you have finished drinking.

This isn’t a beer that I would “go to” without a reason, but I can see this being good either in the dead of winter (in most of the country) or in the middle of the summer. I can see myself drinking one or two of these over a nice dinner of red meats including burgers and hot dogs. This isn’t a beer you appreciate with a steak, that’s for sure. The price point is nice, too. Especially for a beer this big. I will hand it to the elf… he sure knows how to brew a good beer!

La Chouffe – The bottle says: “La Chouffe is brewed by the Artisans of la Brasserie d’Achouffee deep in the hear of Belgium’s Ardennes mountains. The legend of gnomes (chuffs) who once brewed in this mysterious region process the inspiration for this eccentric bottle conditioned, double fermented ale.

“This Belgian micro brewery crafts La Chouffe with local Ardennes’ water, top fermenting yeas, malts, fine hops, and coriander for spice. Double fermentation produces natural carbonation and a small yeast deposit (lees) on the bottom of the bottle.

“Enjoy the golden, dense white head and sweet-spicy flavor of La Chouffe. Serve between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit and pod carefully into a wide-mouthed La Chouffe class to enjoy the full flavors and aromas of this ale from Belgium’s most eccentric brewery.

“Come and visit us at Brasserie D’Achouffe in the Ardennes mountains.”

Rating: 3/5

Sheryl’s Thoughts

It’s a good afternoon for a beer.  I’m glad Ricky picked a big bottle for today.  Apparently we are doing another La Chouffe beer, because he has been walking around singing the La Chouffe song.  It looks good too.  It looks very thick in the glass – not transparent, as I can’t see anything through it.  It’s pretty much a pale orange color, about the color of Blue Moon or maybe a little bit darker.  What does it smell like?  Well, I just took a whiff and it’s got some scent of orange peel, along with a bit of spiciness to it as well, but nothing over powering.  It also had a lot of head to begin with, but that has dissipated a bit now.  Let’s see how it tastes.

First thing that hit me was a bit of wateriness, which I was surprised by.  This isn’t a domestic US beer, why would it taste watery?  Maybe that was just a weird initial sip.  The taste of it is actually a lot like the scent.  It taste very much of orange peel and spice.  There’s a little sourness, and mostly heat on the aftertaste.  It’s a good beer.  Definitely one that’s great for a hot summer day and one I would likely buy again.

Rating: 4/5

891 bottles of beer on the wall…

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