Recently in Achouffe Category

Decembeer Club

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Tonight was beer club, a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together for a meal and lots-o-beer once a month. Tonight, we wondered why we don't do this more than once a month. We had a strange turnout this month. Lots of people, but really only 4 of us were drinking lots of beer (other folks bring wine or don't drink at all). Still, a good time was had by all, and we had a pretty nice selection of beers:

December 2011 Beer Club
(Click for bigger image)

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer we tried are below. As usual, conditions were not ideal, so take it all with a grain of salt. Actually, no. It's the final word on the subject. In order of drinking (not necessarily the order in the picture):

  • Harpoon Winter Warmer - A pretty straightforward winter warmer style beer. Not quite as dark as I'd expect, lots of holiday spices in the nose and taste. Decent, but nothing special... B-
  • Achouffe N'Ice Chouffe - Achouffe's holiday beer brewed with spices turned out to be a bit disappointing. Pours a nice brown color with a bunch of head and a nice Belgian aroma. But the taste is filled with sweet raisiny character that doesn't always work well for me. It got a little less powerful as it warmed up a bit. Very sweet and raisiny. A decent beer, but I expect more out of Achouffe... B-
  • Great Lakes Christmas Ale - It's got all the standard winter warmer characteristics, but it's also brewed with honey, and you really get that additional honey character in the taste. It makes this a somewhat unique brew, and it's actually well balanced. That being said, I've never been that big of a honey person, so it's still not knocking my socks off. B
  • Leinenkugel's Fireside Nut Brown - I've never been one for Leinenkugel's beers, and I don't think this was anything special, but it's a reasonably well executed brown ale with a nice nutty flavor. Not something I anticipate trying again, but it wasn't repugnant either. B-
  • Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale - I actually reviewed this last year and my thoughts on the beer have changed very little. A decent beer, but not something I'd go out of my way for...
  • Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager - My least favorite beer of the night, this one wasn't really offensive so much as it didn't really have much going for it. Flavors seemed a bit muted (especially considering the context of a beer tasting) and while it was crisp and clean, it just didn't do much for me. C
  • Goose Island Christmas Ale - ZOMG! It's a beer mostly owned by Anheuser Busch. I have a reflexive dislike for that, but then, this was actually one of the better beers of the night. A really well balanced and tasty winter warmer style beer. Hop flavors of pine and spruce dominate the palate, but it's not particularly bitter either, which is an interesting combination and everything is rather well matched. B+
  • Heavy Seas Yule Tide - A Belgian style tripel, this one doesn't really have much in the way of holiday spirit, but it's a decent strong pale ale. Typical Belgian yeast flavors are there, but it is extremely sweet. This worked fine for the limited portions of beer club, but to be honest, I'm positive this would become overly cloying if I tried to drink an entire bottle of the stuff. B-
  • My Homebrewed Christmas Ale - I've been trying these ever since I bottled it, but this particular bottle seemed a bit under-carbonated. My regular 12 ounce bottle sseem to be fine (I'm sipping on one right now, actually), but this 22 ounce bottle seemed a bit light on the carbonation. Not sure what to make of that, but it should hopefully work itself out by Christmas...
A few of the beers in the picture were not actually opened. We ended up using them as a sorta Holiday beer exchange/white elephant style gift for each other. Overall, we all had a good time and I'm already looking forward to the January edition of beer club. Until then, expect a whole slew of additional holiday beer reviews!

Gnomegang

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I have to admire Ommegang's ability to incorporate brewery-name puns into their beers. It's inspiring. Ommegeddon, O'mmegang (an Irish stout that I've never had), Obamagang (aka Inauguration ale) and now Gnomegang, a collaboration with sister brewery, Achouffe (world renowned for the cute little gnomes that adorn their bottles... and, you know, I guess they're known for their good beer too). Both breweries are owned by parent company, Duvel, so it's not much of a stretch to see these two collaborating, but it's still nice.

Ommegang Gnomegang

Ommegang Gnomegang: Apparently brewed with Achouffe's house yeast in primary, and Ommegang's house yeast in secondary, this beer has lots of spicy flavors despite no actual spices being added to the wort (something Ommegang typically does with their brews). Pours a hazy, light orange color with a finger of light head. Smells fantastic. Bready/fruity Belgian yeast, sweet candi, and a bit of spiciness in the nose. Taste is very sweet, a little fruity, and spicy, with some alcohol manifesting in the finish. A pretty full body here, with ample carbonation and a well executed boozy stickyness in the finish. There's also a nice warming alcohol sensation here that works pretty well. As I've come to expect from Ommegang, it's extremely well balanced and a joy to drink. I suppose it could be a bit too strong, but it worked well for me and it's really nice to see Ommegang collaborating. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (750 ml, caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/3/11.

I've always been a huge fan of Ommegang, but I should probably check out more from Achouffe sometime (they're apparently famous for their Tripel IPA, which does sound rather interesting)...

La Chouffe

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When I was 12, I played D&D as a Gnome Illusionist named Ralph. I'm glad I got that off my chest.

Speaking of Gnomes, I drank some La Chouffe recently. You may recognize the bottles as the ones with the Gnomes on them. If they really are Gnomes. They are variously referred to as Gnomes, Dwarves, Goblins and/or Elves. That last one seems the most unusual to me, but the La Chouffe homepage even calls them elves, so I don't really know what's going on there. Apparently the term "Chouffe" is Walloon for "gnome", though according to Wikipedia, only 600k people actually speak the language, so who knows how it actually translates.

There's apparently quite a backstory to La Chouffe, which is interesting since the Belgian brewery (actually called Achouffe) was founded way back in... 1982? I'm so used to longstanding (by which, I mean, like hundreds or thousands of years) Belgian breweries that something that new seems odd.

La Chouffe

Pours a cloudy light brown/gold color with a couple fingers of head and some lacing as I drink. The smell is very spicy (can't quite place the exact aroma here, but it's distinct, perhaps coriander) and features lots of the usual Belgian yeast aromas. Taste is sweet and spicy (again, can't place the exact spices here and they seem more subtle in the taste than in the nose), with maybe a hint of citrus. Some people mention a hoppy character in their reviews, but it's not something I found very prominent. There may be a little in the way of a dry bitterness in the finish, but nothing out of the ordinary. Lots of carbonation, but despite the spiciness and decent alcohol, it goes down pretty easy. Overall, a very good beer, something I could drink a lot more of (and probably will!) A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml, capped). Drank from a tulip glass on 4/17/11.

Interestingly, Achouffe and Ommegang recently announced a collaboration. Not super surprising, since they're both owned by Duvel, but still, I'm looking forward to the awesomely named Gnomegang. Stay tuned for that one, as I recently procured a bottle.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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