d’Achouffe N’Ice Chouffe

Reviewed by on February 18, 2014 in Winter Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Brasserie d'Achouffe

  • Origin: Belgium

  • Rated On: February 15, 2014

  • Best Before: August 24, 2015

  • ABV: 10.0%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

  • Rating: GREAT !!

The Review

d’Achouffe is a small brewery in the Ardennes forest of southeastern Belgium, started in 1982, and now owned by the Duvel Moortgat group.  They make a range of Belgian-style beers, including this, their self-styled ‘dark winterbeer’, which has thyme and curaçao added to a strong dark ale recipe.  The label depicts their famous gnomes building a small campfire while it snows.

This 750ml Burgundian bottle pours a hazy, sediment-strewn, dark red brick amber hue, with two fingers of fizzy, tightly foamy, and brown-flecked beige head, which leaves some irregular swaths of chunky lace around the glass as it evenly settles.

The aroma evokes soft dark fruit – wet figs, plump raisins, and dates – earthy thyme, pithy citrus, pale grainy malt, a touch of bready caramel, Belgian yeast, a bit of oily nuttiness, and a mild alcohol warming. Taste-wise, the overripe fruit – plum, prune, raisin, and dates – dominates at first, aided by a weirdly sedate crackery caramel malt, until a warm thyme spice and orange bitters dryness levels things off. Speaking of the 20-proof booze, it appears to be generally toothless throughout, which is an obvious ploy at subterfuge. The carbonation is just a tad frothy as it meanders merrily along, the body a solid medium weight, smooth as all get out, and perhaps a wee bit creamy. It finishes off-dry, the various fruit esters not letting go for a second, buoyed by the lingering savoury spice. Oh yeah – the alcohol warming still seems egregiously AWOL.

Good grief, is this 10-pointer easy to drink! The fruity malt, yeast, thankfully understated spice, and especially the heady alcohol, are all so very laid back, providing something approaching the bliss oblivion horizon. A pleasantly surprising twist on the strong dark Belgian ale paradigm, and yes, quite n’ice – drum-roll/rim-shot, please!

Brady White

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