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.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

jittery escapism

So to soothe my jangled election nerves, I thought I'd do a side-by-side comparison: Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale versus the Lebowski Brewery's Dry Run Pale Ale (a.k.a. my first beer). Visually they're quite similar: The Smutty is a tiny bit redder, mine a little more on the orange side. My beer is only slightly cloudier, as the Smutty is bottle-conditioned too. My beer also retains its head a tad better in the early going. In terms of bouquet: Smutty--herbal, tea leaves, very bright nose, not all that obtrusively hopped. Dry Run--much thicker, hoppier nose, a bit more perceptible alcohol (I'm guessing perhaps 1 percent higher), grapefruitier, herbal, a whiff of eucalyptus maybe. The difference is becoming slighter as they warm up--the Smutty is getting a little richer and creamier as this useless exercise proceeds. The Smutty has a wonderful palate--it strikes me as having a very pronounced tea-like quality that reminds me of Young's Dirty Dick Ale. Would be fair to say that this is a more English pale ale, mine more American (in style that is). So Shoals Pale Ale is a splendidly balanced, integrated beer from start to finish. My beer is a little rougher on the palate, but not coarse--it's pretty highly hopped and thus has a heavier body. Part of the moral of the story is undoubtedly that the Dry Run needs another couple weeks in bottle to really amalgamate itself. But despite being a little rougher on the palate and in the finish, it tastes fairly decent next to an acclaimed micro. Smuttynose is inevitably a more precisely articulated liquid statement, but I was worried my beer would taste like shit by comparison and it didn't. Woo-hoo.


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