Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

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Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Lisa's making me do beer notes here

Doing a random Wednesday night IPA tasting--had three in the fridge: Saranac, Smuttynose (love that word), and Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA. Had a 90-minute last night, which was fabulous. Also have a 120-minute queued up for whenever I'm foolish enough to ingest a 21% abv beer.

Saranac: One of their better beers really. Pale straw color, fairly light bodied. Don't know the alcohol content. Probably 4.5-5. Nose is dominated by pleasantly grape-fruity Cascade hops--not super complex but pleasant, with good lingering bitterness.

Smuttynose: Pretty much orders of magnitude more complex. It is just full of crud--this brewery seems, if this is any indication, to favor a homebrewish texture, very heavily sedimented. The nose is ultra-floral, with strong grapefruit--they've clearly cascaded the hell out of it--but it's not piercing or shrill, to my way of thinking. Partly because it's not just grapefruit--I think I get a little mandarin orange, for instance. Wonderful mouthfeel--not thick bodied exactly, but has a certain pleasant chewiness. Citric palate with just enough malt coming in to keep it balanced out. The finish is a little puckery in a way I rather like--strong hop bitterness mixed with a certain amount, I think, of tannin that makes it really clingy.

Dogfish Head 60-Minute: Bigger, overall. Rocky head, little deeper color. Hoppiness is less dominated by Cascades. You know, the Smuttynose is so shatteringly fragrant that the DH seems a little subdued, but it's working in a different, darker aromatic range. The hops are interesting to be sure, but not as explosive or floral. Layers of interesting citrus flavors, with some definite bitter rindiness. Acidic, expceptionally bright tasting palate, despite the darker nose. There's something really earthy in the bouquet--is it faintly possible this has some Kents, or some kind of less bright English hop, in there somewhere? I'm not sure.

The winner? Smuttynose. Saranac is solid, the DH is rich, and bold, and I like it a lot, but the Smutty seems the most distinctive, the most characterful. And thus concludes my first proper blog posting. Stay tuned for another in 6-8 weeks. I'm off to buy more beer.


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