Monday, 8 March 2010

Achel not be the end of it

You never seem to read much about Achel, the relative newbies of Belgian trappist brewing. Open for business since 1998, they nevertheless come in under the radar, never starring in debates about how long to store them, like Orval. Never disappointing old hands, like Chimay. Never being boring, like Westmalle. Never winning the hyped-up (albeit deserved) plaudits of Rochefort and Westvleteren. Never being Dutch, like La Trappe.

It was in an effort to throw off the constant search for the shock of the new, that I made for Achel Blonde (8%), a beer I'd had a few times but thought nothing of.

What a surprise it was.

There is something unmistakably Belgian about its rich, floral, sweet character. The smell of it is just sensational, deliciously perfumed and fresh all in one. The body is thick but peppered with lovely darts of bubbles. Behind it all is a welcome, and somewhat surprising, bitterness that just fades without a trace as soon as it's registered. Pouring in the yeast midway revives the head gloriously, adding the theatre you'd expect from such an act, and only seeming to enrichen the body at no expense to the flavours but a little to the beer's crispness - as ever, horses for courses here.

These flavours and this style (I suppose it's a tripel, in that it's blonde, strong and relatively sweet) are what I first thought of as uniquely Belgian in beer. Achel's contribution is a stunning example and stands as a welcome reminder that beers - even pale ones - need not be hopped by a psychopath to stand out. Go out and buy some!

1 comment:

Bailey said...

I always think the crappy, homemade looking label (isn't that a Windows system font?) lets it down -- it looks cheap, like some kind of knock off. The beer itself is very nice, as you say.