Sunday, January 8, 2012

Brasserie d’Achouffe: Houblon Dobbelen IPA Tripel – A sensational synthesis

Founded in 1982, Brasserie Achouffe is located in a small Walloon village also called Achouffe, which lies some 10 kilometers from the Luxembourg border. The brewery offers about eight regular beers, and if you’re a fan of Belgian tripels, then the Houblon Dobbelen IPA Tripel will taste somewhat familiar to you, but with a well-hopped and dry finish. The particular sample I had was in draft form at Baran Café in Bergen, Norway.

When tapping Achouffe’s Houblon into a glass, the semi-translucent gold body and huge rocky white head are signs of what’s to come: an enticingly sweet and slightly thick beverage with lots to offer its client. Tilting the glass slightly reveals the impressively dense and long-lasting lacing. Aroma? Think sweet ripe bananas that smells a bit more like bubble gum as the temperature warms a bit. Milder aromas are also present: Think sweet malts and citrus notes accompanied by an unidentifiable (at least by me) spice. BeerAvocate’s TheBeerAlmanac mentions “clove” and, when juxtaposed with the other aromas, perhaps that accounts for the very subtle spice

Houblon’s mouth feel and taste(s) are just as sensational as the aroma and appearance. The texture is somewhat thick, with very active carbonation. Taking a generous mouthful reveals a sensational flavor matrix, starting with ripe bananas that transitions into what seems to be more of a candyish flavor as the temperature of the beer rises, which also comes with a more distinct boozy finish. Again, citrus and spicy notes are also present in Houblon’s taste. Malty tastes are clearly present, along with flavors from yeast and hops. The finish delivers a dry and powerful bitter punch that reminded me that this is far from a normal Belgian tripel.

All-in-all, Achouffe’s Houblon Dobbelen IPA Tripel is a very well balanced brew, but probably too much malt and not enough hops in the aroma for DIPA. That said, this ale is sensational synthesis and brings some additional aroma and taste combinations into the Belgian Tripel and/or DIPA genres – indeed, I have no idea how to classify this one, but it’s definitely balanced more toward the former. Moreover, while Achouffe is a relatively new addition to the Belgium brewing scene, Houblon demonstrates the brewery’s ability to make a fine tripel on par with some of the country’s oldest establishments. Indeed, Houblon embodies big time flavors from a small town brewery, just as so many of the world’s craft brews do. I will certainly be looking to sample more of their other products (see my previous rating for Achouffe’s N’Ice Chouffe).


Achouffe Houblon on

Achouffe Houblon on  BeerAdvocate

Brasserie Achouffe

Image credits

COED Magazine

My own very crappy picture taken at Baran. Can you see the Hansa glass? 

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