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, February 01, 2005

And there it was . . .

Bigfoot. I had resigned myself to not having any this year, as I left CA a month or so before its release. But Marcy Discount Beverage came through and I brought a six-pack home, cooled one in a snow bank while I took out the garbage, and poured up a big, ruddy snifterful of poetry. I think the weather makes this taste even better up here in the Northeast. Note that this acquisition does -not- reduce the likelihood of me making a barley wine within 4-6 weeks. Oh, no. Far from it Dude. There's a lot of barley wines I love. There's the liquer-like delicacy of Old Foghorn, the sweet, malty, treacly Immort Ale, the more slender, but brilliantly fruity and aromatic Old Nick. There's the belting warmth of Scaldis. There's the visceral, prickly Old Crustacean. But if I could only have one, I'd be inclined to go with Bigfoot.

The color comes from English caramel malts (not sure what degree). It's a ruddy, orangey, deep amber. The head is pretty sturdy for a barley wine and has a microscopic bead. The nose is simply fabulous. I know it comes from a three-variety dry-hopping (Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook). I think it's the latter I notice most, the eucalyptus resin riding waves of alcohol out of the glass--you can literally smell the beer a foot away. It's a precarious aromatic balance between that resin-y, pine-y thing and the huge belt of sweet, malt aroma. Come to think of it, for all it's over-bearing hoppiness, this is a better balanced beer than I remembered. There's a definite vegetal/herbal thing going on in the aromatics too, hints of mint and lemon balm--or is it grapefruit and rau-ram?

The palate is also a halancing act, between the very layered malt and the sharp astringency of the hops. What holds them together is a creaminess I had forgotten. The finish makes me shiver, perilously bitter, with suggestions of undergrowth and earth, tree bark and pine needles. And, at 9.6% abv, it does help you forget your troubles. . . Here's hoping I can pull off something comparable. I shall spare no expense.


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