For those of you who clicked the title to this post hoping to see something more aesthetically pleasing than beer, sorry but just copy and paste the title into Google and hope for the best. (Don’t bother I tried out of interest as I wrote this and you’re better off here…) Seriously though, this is actually about three beautiful Belgian beers, two old favourites of mine and a recent discovery.
HOUBLON CHOUFFE Dobbelen IPA Tripel
I first tried this at the fantastic Delirium Cafe in Brussels, they hold the Guinness World Record for the most varieties of beer commercially available. They had when I visited 2004 beers and listed them in a 233-page beer menu. If you haven’t been then put it on your to do list… The name “Houblon Chouffe” apparently is taken from several sources: “Houblon” is French for Hop, “Chouffe” from the brewery Brasserie d’Achouffe, Dobbelen and IPA are in homage to good old English India Pale Ales and American Double IPA, finally Tripel is the owners favourite style of Belgian beer. As the description from their website listed below suggests, the idea was to create a harmonious new style of brew that pulled all of these factors together.
“The HOUBLON CHOUFFE was brewed for the first time in 2006. It is an ‘Indian Pale ale’ type of beer, with a harmonious balance between a marked bitterness (three types of hops are used to make it) and a pleasant fruitiness. The HOUBLON CHOUFFE is unfiltered, and re-fermented in the bottle as well as in the keg. See: http://www.achouffe.be/en/nos-bieres/nos-produits/”
The Beer itself pours with a lively head and is a bright golden colour with a reassuring haze. Pour carefully to avoid the most of the bottle conditioned sediment mixing or not if you prefer, it won’t do you any harm and some prefer the added taste this brings to the beer. There are big old hop tastes and aromas here, with citrusy grapefruit, yeast and that lovely dry hoppy finish.
Moinette Brune 8.5%
BAMMM! Sweet sticky malt smacks you right in the chops and gently smothers away any resistance. As you can guess I really liked this and as a Brucie bonus it’s a new beer for me which will definitely be a regular. You may be more familiar with seeing one or more of Duponts other offerings, the Saison being the most readily available in supermarkets and such, but for me personally this definitely presses the right buttons.
A light bubbly head at first which quickly disappears to almost nothing at all, with the lovely aroma of hops and malts. Simply gorgeous!
Notes from Dupont: “The “Moinette brune” is a top fermentation beer with refermentation in the bottle.
Since its creation in 1986 this beer becomes more and more famous.
A melange of 4 special malts results into this unusual colour, light darkbrown going into russet. The aromas of hop and special malts are creating the dominating taste in this beer.
The “Moinette brune” combines a slightly bitterness with a fruity touch.
A real refermentation in the bottle, which will continue for many months in your cellar, will transform this product into a quite surprising”
Described as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, the first thing that grabs you about this and all the beers from Caracole is the label. Bright comical cartoons of what appear to be characetuers featuring the shell of snails? The theme apparently features the spiral snail shell to signify the name of the brewery itself. The snail is the emblem of Namur and the translation in the local dialect is “Caracole”.
So, enough about the pretty pictures, what about the beer! Well it’s another sweet sticky ale that is perfect for that late night final hurrah, although I’d also say that it would pair very nicely with some strong cheeses, something like a creamy Stilton or vintage Cheddar (now there’s a future project..)
Has a lovely creamy head that lasts to the end of the glass, with malted fruit and chocolate aromas. The taste is sweet and rich like drinking a liquid plum pudding whilst chewing strong liquorice, hints of Christmas spice and hops in the finish. All in all VERY more-ish…
I’ve added a link below to the Caracole website via a Google-Translate search result as most of the site is in Belgian, still worth a look though.
All the beers listed were sourced from Beers of Europe – http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk/