Beer Review: Brasserie d’ Achouffe Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel

Brasserie d achouffe HoublonThe beer pours a muted gold color with a slight haze and yeast flecks abounding. The head is epic in size and quite dense, leaving mounds of lacing inside the La Chouffe goblet I’ve poured into. Very active carbonation bubbles make their way from the bottom of the glass to the surface in frantic fashion. The nose is an explosion of fresh hop scents – pine and citrus – with sweet candi sugar and spice following. The clever little Chouffe dumped a whole lot of aromatic hops in my tripel! In some ways, this is a prototypical tripel in the nose, but the hop profile is so pronounced, it becomes something entirely unique. Perhaps this is why the name of this beer references, what, three distinct styles? There is a slight musty aroma here as well, reminding me a little bit of a nice saison.

The palate is shockingly bitter up front, thanks to the triple (not tripel) attack of Amarillo, Tomahawk and Saaz hops that transform this beer into a category all its own. The bitterness of the hops quickly succumbs to a very sweet, warm, sugary foundation with the distinct Belgian yeast character intact. This beer is predominantly sweet, to my taste, despite the aggressive hop profile. Fortunately the hops are sufficient to keep the beer from becoming too cloying although it is close to crossing over into that realm at times, especially as the beer warms to ambient temperature.

On the heavier side for a standard tripel in the mouth, with the hops providing enough astringency to keep the beer clean and the finish both dry and lingering with tart hop resins. Even though this beer clocks in at 9% ABV, it hides the alcohol rather well and doesn’t become too boozy even after it warms. The finish is both silky and astringent, challenging the senses to categorize this beer.

Over all, a truly fine Belgian delight. This beer is a study in contrasts; both sweet and bitter without coming across as disjointed or confused. Leave it to Brasserie D’ Achouffe to challenge both the mind and the palate with another terrific creation. Whether you’re a fan of the Belgian tripel style or a devotee of the American hop-bomb, there is something for you to like in this beer. Far from a session beer, the Dobbelen IPA Tripel is one I could enjoy with great frequency if not quantity. Well done.

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