Monday, November 13, 2006

Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel

With a tag line like "A unique marriage between the English tradition of IPAs, the American new revolution of Imperial IPAs and the classic Belgian way of brewing" I would have to be insane to pass this one up.


Brewery – Brasserie d'Achouffe in Achouffe, Belgium
Style – umm... I could agree with BA and call it a Belgian Tripel, even though it's really a Belgian interpretation of an IPA.
OG - 1.092
ABV – 9.0%
IBUs - 59
Malts - Pale & Pilsner
Hops - Tomahawk in the beginning and at the middle of the boil. Saaz added during the last 10 minutes of the boil. Amarillo hops used for dry-hopping.
Serving Type – 750 ml bottle

I guess domestic American brewing is starting to finally make a mark on the world. After decades looking down their noses at our beer, someone as world-renowned for their brewing prowess as the Belgians are looking at one of our beers and saying "I wouldn't mind a piece of that action." Of course they would be saying it with a French accent.

To understand this beer we need to look at its name. "Houblon" is easy, it's French for "hop". I'm guessing that it's not a coincidence that it's at the front of the name. Tomahawk is a "super" alpha hop that’s great for making a beer bitter. Saaz is normally used for Bohemian pilsners and contributes some spicy characteristics. Rounding things out we have the floral and citrus aspects of the Amarillo.

"Chouffe" is another name for the town that the brewery calls home, Achouffe. It also happens to be the Walloon word for gnome. Thus explaining the lawn ornament that graces the front of each of there bottles. The Walloon language is a French dialect spoken in Belgium, but is different from Belgian French, which is subtly different from French spoken in France.

"Dobbelen IPA" or Double IPA is the high alcohol, heavily hopped American style of beer that is the impetus for this beer. They did, however, try to incorporate some of the English IPA style. Definitely a move that I wouldn't have bothered with.

Finally, the Belgian "Tripel" is Christian Bauweraerts' (brewery owner) favorite stile of beer. Traditionally, Tripels are high alcohol (they are called Tripels because they use three times the malt of a standard "simple" beer) and, by Belgian standards, fairly bitter.

Mixing all these together should be...interesting.

Glass – Pint glass

Aroma – There is a definite Belgian earthy yeast aroma with this beer. The hops impart a floral and citrusy smell. The bouquet doesn’t really mach up with most double IPA that I’ve had, actually it seems to mach up most closely to that of a pale ale.

Appearance – Looks like I just pored myself a glass of foam. In the initial poor there was about half an inch of beer on the bottom. The crown is big fluffy, white, and very stable leaving big sticky laces. There are "chunks" of the head that never dissipated. The beer has a pale golden color, not crystal clear, but that’s to be expected from a bottle with so much yeast in the bottom.

Flavor – As with the aroma the Belgian yeast and hops take center stage. Up front I get a lot of banana and pear flavor. As the beer move back it gets more and more bitter. In the back of my mouth there is a grapefruit taste. Estery fruitiness follows the bee throughout my mouth. There is some slight alcohol warming and just a hint of grain as the beer goes down. There is a faint bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel – There is some moderate carbonation prickliness, but not as much as I would have expected from the size of the crown. It has a medium mouthfeel and the "Burtonization" of the brewing water gives it a dry finish.

Final Thoughts – Lets see: Not as intense as an American double IPA, but much more flavorful and complex than an English IPA. Not as sweet as a Triple, much hoppier but it does have a similar mouthfeel. This beer defies any attempt to categorize it, and that brings a smile to my face. This is what craft beer is all about, breaking rules and pushing the edge. The fact that they were able to do that and make a very tasty beer out of it just makes my smile that much bigger.


Blogger Jay said...

I had much the same reaction as you did to this beer – it defied description, but it was really, really good. I could honestly taste elements of both the US Double IPA and the Belgian Trippel, not an easy feat to pull off.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Stonch said...

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4:04 PM  

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