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THE TIME I VISITED THE FAMOUS ACHOUFFE BREWERY
4 min OF ZYTHOLOGY
If there is one thing you really should do when holidaying in the Ardennes, particularly when you are in Belgium, it would be visiting one of the many breweries the area boasts. The number of breweries is mind-boggling, a testimony to the fact that in Wallonia, beer truly is a time-honoured and popular tradition. There are so many world-famous breweries here, that we have a hard time making up our mind. Finally, we decide to visit Achouffe, the eponymous village where the famous Achouffe Brewery is located. The brewery produces and exports beer all over the world under the brand name “La Chouffe”.
You can easily pick out their distinctive beer bottles thanks to the famous gnome (in French: lutin) that makes up the brand’s identity. The gnomes also play a leading role in the legend surrounding the Chouffe beers. The brand and the gnomes have managed to build a truly unique identity, and enjoy near-cult status among beer lovers all over the world.
Discovering the Chouffe brewery is above all things exploring a beer lover’s heaven
To enjoy this visit, we travel to a verdant valley in the Belgian Ardennes, to a village located in the heart of goblin country. Here, we discover a huge complex as well as the brewery sporting the goblin’s famous pointy red hat. We also browse the brewery boutique which is overflowing with all kinds of derivative products, as well as every beer you could possibly dream of, that come in all of shapes and sizes.
Gourmets can enjoy a match made in heaven: food and beer pairing while enjoying a tasty meal in the brewery restaurants. The brewery - that is bordered by trees and a pretty lake - is quite an institution in the area and has managed to create a world of its own. If you’re interested you can take a look at the source which contains unique nutrients and that provides the water used for brewing the celebrated beer. We join up with a group of twenty or so visitors for a guided tour of the brewery followed by a tasting of the high-quality special beers made by the brewery.
By visiting the Achouffe brewery you will understand how beer is made and the brand’s success story
We take off for the visit with an extremely competent and very pleasant guide. He regales us with many fascinating anecdotes about beer and Belgians, managing to strike the perfect balance between humour and gravitas. We enter the brewery’s historic farm, the very place where the Chouffe beer was brewed for the very first time. The beer was created by two bothers-in-law who had the brilliant idea of brewing a character beer, but initially without intending to make a living out of it. The first batch of Chouffe beer (49 litres on the dot) was brewed in the late seventies. The beer is an overnight success, and so the “Chouffe Story” is born, to the delight of beer lovers everywhere. Nowadays, the beer is sold in more than 48 countries across the globe and has acquired quite a cult following in many countries, in France for instance.
Discovering the beer’s story with such an enthusiastic guide is really enjoyable and we even get to take a closer look at the equipment used by the founding brothers on the exact same spot the very first batch of beer saw the light of day. Looking at this tiny room at the back of an old farm, and seeing how it became a huge brewery in the space of just a few years, is more than ample proof of the beer’s huge popularity. We continue our visit with a short film that tells the brewery’s story, but also highlights the appearance and history of the famous gnomes that form the brand’s identity.
Brewing a beer requires true skill and is an exact science where every detail matters
During second part of the visit we gain insight into how beer is made. Pretty soon, we realize the high level of skill it requires and how rigorously scientific the process is to boot. Four ingredients are essential to brewing beer: water, malt, hop and yeast. It is important to note that each ingredient is painstakingly selected based on its attributes. Depending on which source it comes from, the water’s composition will impact the beer’s flavour, the malt will add depth and complexity to the beer (how much depends on where it was grown). Each dosage and each ingredient is meticulously dosed depending on the beer’s desired taste and texture. It’s really fascinating to realize how significant every little detail is, even the material the brew kettle is made of is important. Our guide gives us a great explanations and we soon realize how much skill is needed to brew a delicious beer. We are really pleased by the first part of our visit. We have learned a lot about beer, and also enjoyed discovering the story behind this successful brewery and the knowhow, passion and skills that are required to brew Chouffe’s special beers.
Tasting the different Chouffe beers in a cosy atmosphere sent our taste buds to heaven!
After the first part of our visit we are all invited to the brewery’s tasting room so we can finally taste the different flavours of the Chouffe beers. It’s a stunning place, very tastefully decorated in the style of a lakeside chalet. This spectacular setting encourages congeniality and we see many faces light up with a smile as the beers float through the room on a platter. The small glasses of beer are served on large wooden tables.
After our highly educational visit - which has wet our appetite - the time has finally come to sample the brewery’s beers. We discover a cornucopia of many different flavours and textures. We savour the moment and I must say the amount of beer served is quite generous. While chatting to our fellow visitors, we take our time to sample the beers and feel very much at home here. A nice touch is that you can even send a free Chouffe postcard to one of your nearest and dearest.
So it is with this congenial moment that our visit to this successful brewery ends. We learned quite a lot about beer and – most importantly – we tasted some great beers! We will definitely be planning many more brewery visits in the near future!
Enjoy this experience
The tours are held in groups of 4 to 25 visitors (or more, for team building days, for example), on prior reservation, 2 weeks in advance. Visits are held every day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays, at 14:00. First arrived, first served! During school holidays, there are several visits per day. The visit is bilingual, and the languages depend on the languages understood by the first visitors to book a tour. ( FR/NL, FR/EN, NL/EN )
Adults ( aged 16 and upwards) : € 9
Children ( aged 12 to 15 ) : € 5 euros with a cold beverage
Chidren under 12 : free
The brewery is accessible to persons with reduced mobility. For reasons of hygiene, animals are not allowed.
The Chouffe range includes : the traditional Chouffe Blonde, the Cherry Chouffe, the Houblon Chouffe (a hop beer), the Chouffe Soleil (a refreshing, fruity beer, perfect for those warm summer days), the Mc Chouffe ( a brown beer), the N'Ice Chouffe (a winter beer), the Chouffe Bok, a seasonal beer created for the Dutch market and, the Château d'Ychouffe, a beer that can be served as aperitif, a limited edition (25 000 bottles) brewed with grape must.