You may be wondering how I get my hands on so many straight-from-Belgium beers. The answer is baseball.
Little did I know that baseball is so popular in Belgium. That is, until my Belgian friend asked if I could buy him baseball uniforms and gear and ship it to him. Apparently, baseball stuff is wicked expensive to buy in Belgium and most US companies don't ship internationally. Somehow it's cheaper for me to ship the stuff to him than for him to buy it there. So, whatever.
I send him baseball stuff for his team - the Limburg White Sox (Facebook Page) - and he sends me beer; including the much sought after and coveted Westveterlin 12. It also just so happens that my buddy is a big schmuckety-muck of said White Sox team.
One of the beers he sent me - aside from the Westy 12 - was McChouffe brewed by Brasserie d'Achouffe in the Ardennes mountains of Belgium.
Ironically, there is also a baseball connection with this brew and the United States. For comparison, I bought a bottle of the imported version of this beer. As I was perusing the back label - of the American label because I don't read Dutch - and waaaaaaaaaaaaay down at the bottom of the label it reads, "In 2006, the Chouffe gnomes discovered they have baseball-playing family at the Brewery Ommegang farmstead in Cooperstown, NY." Geographically speaking, Ommegang is practically in my back yard and I totally dig their brews.
Another difference, not surprisingly, the import label is written in English and the Belgian brew is mostly in Dutch.
The differences in the outside of the bottle are obvious. It's what's inside that I'm most interested in. In a side-by-side comparison of the import vs. the Belgian version, I'm was mildly disappointed to note that they are pretty much the same with only subtle differences; which can easily be attributed to the difference in age, batch, storage, etc.
McChouffe (8.00% ABV) pours a cloudy coppery brown. The head is thick but diminishes quickly and leaves behind minimal lacing.
The aroma is mildly sweet and fruit with a nice earthy quality. Sadly, there is also a slight metallic odor that is a off-putting.
The taste is a big blast of sweet malt, bready yeast, and dried fruits. This is offset by earthy undertones. The metallic note carry over from the nose but it's not overly distracting. The finish is mostly malt tinged with a bit of dark sugar.
The mouthfeel is medium with lively carbonation.
McChouffe is a bold malty brew. Quaffable and refreshing.