I recently received the following email from a reader:
I am an attractive woman in my mid-twenties, and I love your blog. I never miss a post! In your very first post, you wrote about being enraged by your friend serving Brasserie D'Achouffe's Houblon Chouffe while you were playing F-Zero X. That's my favorite beer in the world, and you still haven't told us what you would pair it with. Well?
P.S. I think it's hot that you drink booze while you play video games!
Thank you, Ms. Awesome, for reading the blog and for taking the trouble to write to me. Since my very first post for this blog, I have debated over what to play with this beer. I did eventually find a reasonably good pairing for F-Zero X, but procrastinated when it came to finding a video game for Houblon Chouffe. Fortunately, when my fans call, I answer. On my way back from work tonight, I picked up a bottle of Houblon Chouffe. I had a plan.
Brasserie D'Achouffe's Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel is, as the label suggests, a Double IPA Tripel. I have a bit of a prejudice when it comes to Belgian-style IPAs. Hoppy beers that are fermented with Belgian yeast strains often end up tasting unpleasantly medicinal to me. I believe that a combination of hop bitterness and spicy, clove-like phenolics given off from the yeast during fermentation are the cause of this. However, there are a few examples of Belgian IPAs that I truly enjoy, and Houblon Chouffe is certainly one of them. The beer has a pale golden color. It pours with a beautiful rocky white head, and has an aroma of spicy citrus, banana and pear. It has a fairly light body and tastes of grapefruit, banana, cinnamon and a faint trace of clove. It is reasonably dry, though it does have enough sweetness to balance out a moderate bitterness. It does not have the cough-syrupy taste that tends to ruin other Belgian IPAs for me, most likely because of its restrained phenols and bitterness. It does have a nice spiciness to its flavor, but I think that this comes in part from the Saaz hops that are used in combination with the more fruity Amarillos and Tomahawks. The cinnamon spice contributed by the hops does not make the beer taste like Robitussin, but instead, like delicious. But I ramble so.
Before I got off the Chicago Ave. bus at Noble earlier tonight with the hopes that one of West Town's boutique liquor stores would have Houblon Chouffe in stock, I already knew what I would pair it with. What game is bold, sassy, exuberant and fun enough to go well with this beer? As you probably guessed from the title of this post; Donkey Kong Country for the SNES.
I grew up with Donkey Kong Country, and it has a very special place in my heart. It is a fabulous platformer by Rareware starring Nintendo's original villain, DK himself. Nintendo has never had it in their hearts to have a true bad guy in their ever-present collection of characters. Sure, a guy might breath fire at you and throw hammers at your face, but he'll also help you out on your occasional wacky journey. Like Apocalypse Now, Donkey Kong Country is a light-hearted romp through the jungle. Plush graphics and a jazzy soundtrack, along with great gameplay, make this a true classic.
Houblon Chouffe went hand-in-hand with DKC. They are both wonderfully engaging, and they don't ask that you take them too seriously. The banana notes in the beer made me feel that much closer to my mission of gathering hundreds upon hundreds of bananas, and its fresh hoppiness made me feel at home in the green jungle. I highly recommend this pairing. Thanks, Ms. Awesome, for urging me to finally try it. After all, you aren't imaginary.