Brasserie des Rocs Grand Cru

Brasseriedesrocs_GrandCruBrewer: Brasserie des Rocs, Montignies-sur-Roc, Belgium
Style: Strong Brown Ale
ABV:
9.5%

Description: This strong Belgian brown ale is fashioned using 7 different varieties of malts, a mixture of three kinds of hops – Belgian, German and Czech – and is brewed without any sugar. The end result is then double-fermented and unfiltered to create a malt-forward, strong special ale.

Tasting Notes: This was a surprising experience, being very malty and sugary – despite the lack of Candi sugar in the brewing process. However, it was what one would expect from a strong Brown ale or a Belgian Dubbel. Basically, it was packed with flavors of dark fruit, brown sugar, and had a nice, smoky finish that reminded me of Christmas and figgy pudding. Another good intro to a previously-unknown Belgian brewery.

Appearance: Ruby/brown, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugars, fruity notes, plums, dates, raisins, rum-like essence
Taste: Smooth malt, strong sugars, dark fruit, hint of smoke, mild alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering smoky, dark fruit and sugary aftertaste
Overall: 9/10

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Mc Chouffe Ardennes Brune

mcchouffeAs a self-professed beer snob, it’s always a pleasure when I’m able to find obscure and venerated brews at my local liquor store. It’s also a pleasure when said brews extend my overall repertoire of Belgian beers. As the country that boasts more breweries per square kilometer than any other in the world, and the home of Trappist and countless other brewing traditions, they seem to be able to do little wrong.

So it was with some anticipation that I managed to procure and tilt a bottle of Mc Chouffe’s Ardennes Brune. A relatively new operations by Belgian standards, the La Chouffe operation is nonetheless pretty renowned, producing a series of traditional, unfiltered ales that are refermented in the bottle. The Mc Chouffe is the dark ale of their lineup, boasting fruitier, more sugary malts, and weighing in at a respectable 8% alc/vol.

Appearance: Dark brown, opaque, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sugary malts, molasses, brown sugar, herbs
Taste: Immediate burst of sugars, giving way to mild tang and yeast, molasses, raisins
Aftertaste: Mild bitterness and lingering herbs
Overall: 8.5/10

All in all, the Mc Chouffe dark is comparable to most Belgian brown ales I’ve tried, combining a fruity profile that is typically characterized by raisins, plums and dates with notes of sugar, molasses and spices. And of course, it compliments all this with a telltale yeasty flavor and aroma, and of course a strong dose of alcohol. I hope to sample their flagship brew, La Chouffe Blonde, in the near future. As it happens, I know just where to find it!