06 February 2009

A pairing

I'm afraid I'm breaking David's rules for this Session. He's called it A Tripel For Two and asks that participants write about a "Belgian-style tripel". What I had was a tripel all right, and actually from Belgium, but definitely not Belgian-style.

I suspect the vast export market provided by North America is what provoked Brasserie d'Achouffe to produce their catchily-titled Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel, which I picked up in Redmond's recently. It comes in a big bottle so myself and herself shared it over dinner.

'Tis a strange beast and no mistake. Characteristically Chouffe-like, with the peppery spice I've come to associate with their yeast, since it's about the only common factor I've found in their various beers. There's a strong, uncompromising bitterness in with the spice, which I guess is where the tripel label comes in, though the body is much lighter than I would have expected given the 9.5% ABV, and the colour is considerably paler, with a dusting of sediment lurking sullenly at the bottom of the glass.

It's in the hopping, however, that it applies for a Green Card. Amarillo and Tomahawk join the Saaz, and quite late in the brewing process, if I'm not mistaken. The aroma is very citrus, though gives off the hard and oily acidity of oranges rather than light and zesty grapefruit. On the palate the American hoppiness is almost lost amongst the spices, but the lack of body allows some of that grapefruit bitterness to shine through, in a good way.

It's neither one thing or another, this. I think I'd take it over most any other La Chouffe beer, but there's no way I'd swap it for a similarly-sized bottle of Goose Island IPA or Double Daddy (Do such things exist? Why the hell not?) -- the tripel malt profile is just not as enjoyable as the one you get in hoppy American IPAs. We both liked it though. It's a beer that puts a very positive spin on the whole notion that beer styles are not important, and if it tastes good, drink it.

Food? Yeah we had food. Some class of goat's cheese and butternut squash lasagne, I think. It was grand.


  1. Laurent Mousson2:03 pm

    IIRC, Chouffe Houblon was created at the request of the US importers. Achouffe wen there a bit reluctantly.

  2. Thought it might be something like that. I'll bet they weren't too reluctant to take the importers' money, though.

    Not that I'm sneering at the derivation of the beer -- they've brewed a nice one and that's all that matters.

  3. I could be wrong bit I think stone may have started this new craze of Belgian IPA'S with there Vertical challenge series.

    It seam that Belgian IPA'S are a little like the marmite of the beer world at present some love the phenols and C hoops other don't

    Where did you pick it up?

  4. I got it in Redmond's. DrinkStore have it too.

    I didn't think Urthel's IPA was very IPA-ish at all. It had very little in common with this one, IMO.

  5. As an American brewer who loves Belgian beers and hates style nazi's - this is one of my favorite brews.

    I seek out hoppy Belgian brews.

  6. I picked up a bottle of it to night, look forward to trying it

  7. I'm finding that Belgian yeast esters can be a happy marriage with citrus-hop aroma... if it's the right yeast and it's well made. There are a growing number of bad examples out there. The Chouffe Houblon is one of the better ones for sure. La Rulles may be the current standard-setter...

  8. Is that the Rulles Estival you mean? I quite liked that, but it's no palate-pounder.