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.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

And then there's barley wine

In my vague depression, I'm consoling myself with a bottle of Old Foghorn; drinking wherefrom, I intend to ramble about what kind of barley wine I ought to make. I've been operating under the theory that no starter is really big enough for a barley wine and that I ought to plan one to be siphoned onto the lees of a pale ale that I've just bottled.

So, the pale ale is easy. I'm going to take the (very distinctive) grain bill for Smuttynose's Shoals Pale Ale, composed of Pale Malt, Carastan 35L, Cystal 120L, and Wheat Malt. With that, I'll use, probably, White Labs number 1 (the Sierra Nevada yeast) and hop it moderately with Chinook and Cascade. The question is, what barley wine do I really want?

Seems to me there's three basic kinds (disregarding Belgian oddities like Scaldis). There's the English ones, which tend to be overwhelmingly malty and get big doses of Goldings or Fuggles. There's the well-behaved American ones (like the one I'm drinking) which are about suave malt, richness, and controlled hopping. Then there's barley wines behaving badly, either those with asinine alcohol contents (the magnificent Dogfish Head Immort Ale), those with insufferable spicing (John Barleycorn), or those with preposterously high hop levels (Old Crustacean, Bigfoot). Because I got a good deal on some whole flower Chinooks, I'm inclined toward the latter category. Plus, I can't get Bigfoot on the east coast apparently. So, what about a gravity of 1090-1095, a malt bill that's mostly good pale malt, with a nice dose of moderately dark crystal, a touch of dextrine, and, oh, about 100 IBU's of Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook, with a liberal dry-hopping of perhaps all three? I mean Old Foghorn is nice (I'm enjoying it as we speak) but fuck it. Hops, hops, hops. But, just in passing, in praise of subtlety, I must mention that I adore that little whiff of Grand Marnier which seems to me the trademark of Old Foghorn. Wonder how they get that? Oh, well. My barley wine, tentatively dubbed "Old Crowbar," will be all about the pine resin-y glory of the Chinook.


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