Sud Savant: Ommegang Gnomegang – Good Gracious! This is Fantastic!

“Little” did I know that Gnome Week was from Jun 6-9, 2012! Here is a small press release that explains it better that I can.

Brassiere d’Achouffe Gnome Week Celebrates 6,666 Years of Enchanted Brewing
Be Part of the Magic, All Across the USA, June 6-9, 2012.

(COOPERSTOWN) Belgian brewery Brassiere d’Achouffe is going tastefully small while celebrating the 6666th anniversary of gnome-style brewing during Gnome Week. The celebration kicks off 6/6 and continues through 6/9 The four-day event features a release of Chouffe ‘Biere de Soleil’ as well as the return of Brewery Ommegang‘s ‘Gnomegang’ collaboration ale. On the final day of the event ‘the world’s smallest toast’ will take place with tiny Chouffe mugs and fittingly tiny coasters at 6:66pm, at 190 participating locations across the nation.

The myth and magic behind Chouffe is that it began 6,666 years ago (the postal code in Houffalize, home of Brasserie d’Achouffe is 6666). While Chouffe opened as a brewery only 30 years ago, it was 6,666 years ago that ancient gnome ancestors discovered the magical Chouffe brewing water. The present-day gnomes passed the source of the water and the Chouffe recipe on to Pierre Gobron and Christian Brauweraerts in 1982, and pledged them to keep the Chouffe tradition alive.

Gnome Week is being celebrated in a variety of ways including 190 in-bar promotions, an interactive Facebook page, and the World’s Smallest Toast. The Facebook page includes a schedule of events, a countdown to the World’s Smallest Toast, links to participating venues, an amusing Gnome-Thyself photo app, a Twitter feed, and beer descriptions with beer locator.

To commemorate the week is an iPhone and Droid application called: Chouffe Little Gnome. When each of the Gnome Week coasters is scanned by a smart phone, they immediately spring to life in full animation. The app is available for download at the Apple App Store or Google Play store searching “Chouffe”. For a demonstration of this engaging technology, download the app and scan the coaster images.

Since I have such a high respect for d’Achouffe, I wasn’t about to let this anniversary go past unmarked! I quickly dug up my only remaining bottle depicting a gnome and threw it in the fridge. That bottle is collaboration between Brewery Ommegang and Brassiere d’Achouffe is a wonderfully punny brew named “Gnomegang.” Now, Gnomegang was originally in production in early 2011 and hasn’t been seen since. As you read above it’s finally BACK in production (though again likely to be a limited edition), but the bottle I’ll be reviewing today is from the original release in 2011 (thereby aged just over one year). Let’s pour!

Aroma 12/12 – Good gracious! This is fantastic! The smells come in waves after the beer is first poured. First is a thick malt, but it is hard to get a grasp on because it is quickly overcome by a very floral Belgian yeast. Oh, what a treat! Just when you’re getting used to that the smell of candied cloves arrives! I don’t even know if it’s possible to candy a clove, but if it is I’m sure that this is what it would smell like: sugary, cloves, and hints of vanilla. This just keeps getting better and better. The malts then become more detectable and they are a bready, dense, caramel-drizzled lot. As the beer warms, the 9.5% ABV can be picked out at times as can hints of honey. If there’s anything else you’d want in a Belgian-style golden ale, I certainly can’t think of it.

Appearance 3/3 – The head is a pure white generous two fingers of fluffy, light, and tightly packed bubbles that seem to dance when the glass is jostled. The brew itself is a wonderful, bright golden (imagine that) hue that is only slightly hazy. This is an unfiltered beer and there’s a bunch of sediment at the bottom of the bottle, but only a few crumbs sneak into my tasting glass and settle on its bottom. The light this beer lets in truly help it to shine and show off a variety of light and dark gold alloy colors.

Flavor 20/20 – This is lighter than the aroma would have us believe, but still a ridiculously good beer. It begins with a wash of Belgian yeast flavors, which are quickly joined by a caramel. The caramel then begins to turn dark and blend in a very complimentary way with an alcohol warmth. Things then become a bit spicy as the cloves come forward ever so slightly, but the spiciness is truly limited because a strong fruitiness take center stage. This lighter fruit is definitely the featured flavor and is akin to apples, honey, and a lighter floral note. These more delicate flavors are much easier to detect when held in the mouth. On a quick swig, the stronger Belgian yeast and cloves tend to take over. I strongly recommend letting the lighter flavors do their thing. You will not be disappointed. The finish is a resurgance of the beefier flavors and they intend to remind you that this is not a light, sissy beer. It’s full of strong cloves, a much more detectable warmth, distinct Belgian yeast banana goodness, and even a left jab of balancing hops. What an impressive beer! The aftertaste is mostly a boozy bitterness that quickly leaves the mouth dry.

Mouthfeel 5/5- Considering this brew has a 9.5% ABV the warmth is largely undetectable unless the brewers want you to detect it. This is a nice feat when brewers do this and especially when they allow that warmth to blend well with other flavors. The beer itself is very full-bodied, but never heavy thanks to the abundant carbonation and its large foaming action. Even though the carbonation is very full, it never becomes prickly or intrusive. Great job!

Joel R. Kolander is the Cheif Blogger for Sud Savant, a beer-savoring blog for the rest of us. We’re not here to get plowed. We’re not here because we are world-famous beer critics. We’re here because we enjoy savoring a great beer with even better friends. Sharing great beer is just as amazing as finding it in the first place. Lets share!