November 7, 2021

Malka Chouffe: An Israeli-Belgian collab beer

Malka Chouffe
Belgian Blond Ale:
The new 
collab beer.

The celebration of Hacarem Spirits' 100th anniversary continues with a second collaboration beer between an Israeli and a European brewery.  Malka Brewery in the Tefen Industrial Park has teamed up with the Achouffe Brewery in Belgium to produce a spiced Belgian Blond Ale, known as Malka Chouffe.  

Earlier this year, the Negev Brewery, which is in the Malka facility, collaborated with Mikkeller in Denmark to make the Desert Haze New England-style IPA.  Hacarem is a major importer and marketer of beer, wine, spirits and food (including Chouffe and Mikkeller beers), as well as holding interests in the Malka and Negev breweries.  [Read more about the Desert Haze collaboration here.] 

Three thousand liters of Malka Chouffe were brewed and bottled at the Duvel-Moortgat Brewery in Belgium and all bottles were shipped to Israel.  

To find out more about this collaboration, I spoke with Ravid Rose, the product manager for Belgian beers at Hacarem, who was involved from the beginning of the process. 

"Achouffe has never collaborated with another brewery to make a beer," she told me.  "When we approached them with the idea, via Zoom, about a year ago, they refused.  But then Duvel, which owns Achouffe, opened a new brewery which is able to experiment with smaller quantities.  They agreed to work with us."

Ravid and Maor Helfman, Hacarem's brand manager for Israeli beers, zoomed with Achouffe brewers to produce a recipe for a Belgian Blond Ale similar to the regular La Chouffe Blond and the Malka Blond Ale. 

"The Malka Chouffe is somewhere between the two," Ravid explained.  "It is less sweet than the La Chouffe Blond and more spiced.  We used cloves and thyme, while the La Chouffe Blond includes coriander seeds, an ingredient usually found in Belgian Blond and Wheat ales.  Both of the beers are 8% alcohol."

The branding was done by the Belgian brewery.  The label still has Marcel, the famous Chouffe gnome, but he is carrying a glass of beer with the Malka crown towards the queen's palace.

(A language lesson would help at this point: Chouffe in this Flemish dialect means "gnome," and Malka in Hebrew means "queen."  Everything clear now?)  

A side-by-side tasting of Malka Chouffe and
La Chouffe Belgian Blonde Beer.

I thought it would be interesting to do a comparative tasting between the new Malka Chouffe and the regular La Chouffe Blond Ale.  With my tasting partner Moshe, I poured glasses of the two Belgian-brewed beers side by side.

First thing you notice is the color.  The Malka Chouffe is about two shades darker.  The aromas are similar -- with Malka Chouffe emphasizing the spiciness of the hops and some lemon.  La Chouffe Blond smells maltier and less spicy.  The taste of the Malka version also begins with spice and herbs, but then moves into sweet.  Moshe called it "lemon drops."  There was also some fruity esters from the Belgian yeast, perhaps banana.  

Marcel, the Chouffe gnome, brings a glass of
Malka Chouffe to the queen's palace.

We found that the regular La Chouffe Blond was less spiced, less harsh in the mouthfeel, and basically more balanced.  Moshe preferred it over the Malka Chouffe.  I enjoyed the two of them in different ways, and will defer to the education in the art of diplomacy I received those many years ago at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.  

Collaboration beers are not necessarily any better than beers developed by a single brewery.  And let's be honest: A lot of it is hype and marketing.  But they generate interest in the breweries involved, create fraternity among different brewers, and even introduce a wider public to the world of craft beer.

Hacarem already is the common element between the Malka and Achouffe Breweries, and so a collaboration beer is a great idea  -- with very tasty results.  I understand we can expect an additional collab beer or two within the framework of Hacarem's centennial anniversary.              

1 comment:

Thanks for your comment. L'chayim!