I imagine the gnomes of Achouffe don’t mind winter too much; if they get fed up with the 8.0% alc. La Chouffe or its bitter 9.0% brother, Houblon, they can warm themselves by the camp fire with a 10% strong dark ale: N’Ice. Strong dark ales are relatively high in alcohol complex, fruity , spicy and usually not too bitter; in short, they are ideal for slow Winter sipping.
Spring is now rapidly approaching, however, and that means space needs to be cleared for the stocks of Chouffe Soleil; the gnomes are taking every opportunity to light up the fire and finish off the winter beer.
Here the weather outside is cold and damp if not exactly wintery. Nonetheless, it’s by no means springlike so I’ve decided to join the gnomes (in spirit, at least). The radiators (in the absence of a camp fire in a sixth floor flat) are turned up, it’s dark outside and the freshly poured beer is standing on the table.
It looks good; very dark brown with an off white head. The smell is yeasty fresh bread with over ripe apricots and other rich fruits. The taste takes over without disappointing; toasted malt and the yeast with a tremendous fruit package; the apricots plus a surge of figs and dates.
The sweetness is kept in check and together with the alcohol and good carbonation gives a marvellously rich mouthfeel. Everything hangs together well into the long finsh.
A really good winter beer, which is quite widely available; since 2006 the Brasserie d’Achouffe belongs to Duvel-Moortgat and today the gnomes are to be found on the shelves in 40 countries throughout the world.