Sunday, January 10, 2010

N'Ice Chouffe

N'Ice Chouffe

Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Achouffe

Belgian Strong Dark Ale
10.00% ABV


Commercial Description:
A dark brown, fruity, lightly hoppy, sparkling, strong beer and is not pasteurized.

This bier pours a cloudy very dark amber with ruby hues and an off white head.

Oh that wonderful unique Belgian nose; rich dark malts with fruity esters escaping from a still fairly rich head. There are also those yeasty and spicy notes on the nose. I can’t wait to dive into this one.

Oh my, this is another one of those great Belgians that just make you melt. Sweet dark roasted malts up front then an exquisite effervescence followed by a very creamy mouthfeel, aided by that creamy head. The backend and finish is luscious, with those lingering dark roasted Belgian malts and that classic yeasty aftertaste. This is just a wonderful experience. 

I have had this before and even recently at a tasting but you really do not fully experience the bier correctly until you properly pour a whole glass. This is much better then I thought it would be based on my last tasting.

This bier is getting better as it warms and opens up a little. Those great roasted malts are smoother and the mouthfeel is even creamier now.

Now keep in mind that these roasted malts are nothing like the roasted malts in a typical stout. These malts are sweet with fruity esters from the Belgian yeast. Typical roasted malts in a stout have a malt bitterness, an almost burnt type of a taste. OK back to the review.

Wonderful, this is just a wonderful experience.

This bier is now at 61 degrees. It is picking up more flavors, no, nothing unpleasant. It seems to be picking up more of a candi sugar flavor. It is hard to describe its not super sweet; it has an almost tart sweetness to it. Sorry, I’m not doing very well describing this newly developed sweet taste. 

The head on this bier has not quit. There has been a nice protective layer over the top of the bier all the way to the bottom of the empty glass.

The Lees:

These lees just reinforce my general rule that they should not be added directly to the bier. These are down right funky and would have drastically changed my bier experience. It is interesting however to taste the lees separately after you have tasted the bier as intended by the brewer. These lees have a very unique flavor, a little sour, tart and obviously very yeasty.

Final Thoughts:
This is not the most flavorful Belgian Christmas Ale but it is highly enjoyable and very easy to drink. It is almost velvety it is so smooth. The 10% ABV is superbly masked. You may think this bier has the alcohol of an English stout it is hidden that well. 

This is one excellent bier. I am very impressed with its craftsmanship. Not in its complexity but in its simple elegance.  There are far more complex and flavorful Belgians but this one really hit me tonight. A very easy drinking and enjoyable brew.

For a rating this is a solid A for me. I highly recommend this bier to anyone that likes a rich malty and yeasty style beer. This should be a very widely liked easy drinking Belgian. This would also be a very nice introductory brew to the Wonderful World of Belgians.

Plus it is also has some cool bottle artwork.

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