Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel

ChouffeHoublon330mlBrewery: Brasserie d’Achouffe, Achouffe, Belgium
Style: India Pale Ale/Tripel
Alc/Vol: 9%

Description: This crossover British and Belgian-style ale was brewed for the first time in 2006. In addition to employing three types of hops, which provide a marked bitterness, the beer is re-fermented in the bottle to provide its tripel strength and malt profile.

Tasting Notes: I was surprised to see the description of this beer, but I found the flavor quite familiar and enjoyable. It was a fitting example of a Belgian Tripel, and in many ways reminded me of Duvel because of its strong, slightly coarse malt flavor. However, this was rounded out somewhat by the hop flavor and what I assume is a lack of candi sugar in the fermentation process.

Appearance: Golden blonde, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Coarse, grainy malts, yeast, slight sugars, hints of citrus hops
Taste: Coarse malts, yeast, mild tang, hints of citrus and hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and hop bitterness, citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

Steamworks Blitzen

steamworks_paleYears back, while in Vancouver, the wife and I had a chance to visit the brewpub and I can recall enjoying a tall, frosty Trappist glass of this winter ale. Since that time, it has been damn near impossible to find  bottle of it on the island. As a tribute to the style of Belgian Tripel ales, it was not only strong, malty, and highly yeasty, it was highly reminiscent of one of my favorite beers of all time – La Fin Du Monde.

The beer is golden blonde, slightly cloudy, spicy, malty, mildly hoppy (20 IBUs), and has a strong alcoholic punch (9% alc/vol). Brewed with Pilsner malt, flavored with Fuggles and Sterling hops, this beer is also = in true-Belgian fashion – fermented with some added candi sugar. The end result is a strong ale that has both subtle and saccharine malts, calls to mind the flavors of a Bavarian lager as well as a good-old fashioned Belgian Tripel, with just a hint of Duvel.

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Belgian yeast, semi-sweet, sharp and spicy malts
Taste: Strong malt start, mild tang, spicy yeast notes, mild hop bite and alcohol
Aftertaste: Mild yeast and lingering malt flavor, sharp and clean
Overall: 8.5/10

Glad I could finally find some of this beer in the bottle. As always, seasonal beers are a rare and delightful treat, and Steamworks has generally been known to produce some pretty impressive seasonal specialties in addition to their regular lineup.

More Belgians!

Okay, back for more Belgian beer reviews. I should take this opportunity to mention a few places which I found over the years which can be counted on to carry some of the beers I’ve been covering. In addition to Vineyards, located in the Byward Market in Ottawa, there is also Pub Italia, located on Preston Street in Ottawa’s “Little Italy”. Third, there’s the Beer Markt, one of the biggest beer halls I’ve seen outside of Germany, located in King West, Toronto. All of these places were quintessential in my beer education, up to a hundred taps and several hundred bottles. For some reason, I have yet to find such a place in BC, but I will try!

In terms of Beer Stores, your larger LCBO’s (in Ontario) are usually a good source. In BC, the BCL usually focuses on beers of the pacific northwest, but Liquor Plus has been known to carry quite a few labels.

St. Martin Blonde: The brewery of Brunehaut, which is responsible for this brew, has a looooong history. Though technically not a Trappist beer, it is nevertheless a traditional Abbey beer, done in the same tradition of making strong, double/triple fermented, and bottle conditioned ales. The blonde ale is one of their flagship beers, and is nice and light. At 7% alc/vol, its certainly no slouch in terms of strength, but the taste is clean, oaky, and with just a touch of honey. The color and nose are consistent with this, being cloudy gold with light aroma of hops and honey. 7.5/10

Duvel: Here is a beer that I’ve sampled many times, but can never really acquire a taste for. Which is surprising given my love for most wheat beers. At 8.5% alc/vol, this beer lives up to its name (Devil), and the taste is certainly consistent. Befitting a traditional Belgian golden ale, it is made with Pilsner malt and white sugar, which is reflected in the taste – being crisp, hoppy, and with a strong finish that is reminiscent of rum. Originally brewed to commemorate the end of WWI, this beer is certainly a fine product, but remains one Belgian I can’t get into! Duvel – good quality, but not a personal favorite. 7/10

Maredsous Brune: Made by the same brewery that produces Duvel (Duvel Moortgat), this beer was a faithful fallback beer during my sampling days. The color, as the name suggests, is dark brown, the taste is tawny, but with a syrupy touch. A good balance of hops, malts and sweetness that Belgian Abbey beers are famous for. I wish I could get my hands on more of their lineup, such as the Blonde, and Tripel. Next visit to Ottawa, I guess! 8/10