Last night, I prepared to try a new (to me) beer - La Chouffe, a Belgian strong pale ale by Brasserie d'Achouffe. I was pretty excited about trying this one, as I tend to really enjoy Belgians; as a matter of fact, following my recent discovery of Duvel, golden Belgian ales may have climbed into my own personal top spot in terms of my favorite beer styles.
La Chouffe is an extremely well reviewed beer (92 by the BeerAdvocate community, 99 by their critics), and I was anxious to see how it stacked up to Duvel, Chimay Tripel, and Leffe Blonde - all beers I have really enjoyed. How would it differ? How would it stand out?
The pour was promising. A nice golden color, a bit opaque (but this mostly due to the serious bubbles within the brew). Not as much head as some, but what was there was quite persistent and left nice, sticky Belgian lacing.
The scent was spot on for what I expected; nice Belgian yeasty aromas with some citrusy notes. I was prepared to love this beer.
And then, the taste... sweet, a little bite, some nice notes. Clean, balanced... and coriander.
Mouthfeel is what I want from a Belgian, very nicely carbonated. Not too thin, adds to the feeling... and coriander.
Another sip. More coriander.
Clearly, this is a wonderfully crafted brew. Everything meshes together nicely. No one aspect overwhelms any other. I can see why people love this beer. Only... coriander.
I can't shake it. Every single sip brings this taste immediately to mind. Coriander. I expect peppery notes from Belgian yeasts, but I don't really get these. Instead... coriander. There are some fruity hints, but as quickly as I detect them, the coriander taste steals the spotlight. I finished the beer, but I won't be buying another La Chouffe.
In case I haven't made it clear yet, the coriander really ruined this beer for me. It's not that I think that they put in too much - it's that I have discovered that I just don't care for the flavor of coriander in my beer.
I'm going to look at this as a positive. I know that a lot of home brewers really struggle with getting coriander just right; it has to be freshly cracked, you have to use just the right amount, you want to use it for the correct amount of time in your boil, etc. For me, just the right amount of coriander in a batch is clearly none. At least I found this out now, instead of after I brewed five gallons of something that I wouldn't enjoy drinking.
Too bad I learned this lesson from a single bottle that cost $4.99. Ah, well. C'est la vie. More coriander for you, I suppose.
Tags for this post: coriander, la chouffe, belgian, beer, ale, homebrew