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.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Smuttynose Barley Wine

Yum. I like this. There's something Old Foghorn about it--I think it's the citrusy element. Smells like tangerines and hops. I looked into the grain bill for this on-line. It's very distinctive; they use exclusively Belgian character malts: Aromatic, Special B, CaraMunich. In fact the grain bill looks a little like the Dubbel I just brewed. The nose has a very big, Pacific-Northwest hop character. I pick up pine, spicy resins, and noticable (though not over-bearing) alcohol. It's lovely how integrated the hop and malt components of the nose are. Brooding, deep malt flavors comingle with the bright, zesty, citrusy hop aromas--the result is quite seemless. Rich, malty palate blends a carameliness and a rich raisiny, delicately roasted element, which I'd have to attribute to the Special B. The finish is long and hoppy, but also paradoxically soft--totally without harshness or rough edges.

Gotta say, this could become my favorite barley wine. It has all the crazy hoppiness of Bigfoot plus a richer malt profile. It's got the sexy, citrus thing of Old Foghorn, but with more hops and overall size. It's like 12 % alcohol. Damn. It's really beautiful. I'm going to finally make my barley wine in a week, hoping it ages decently in the summer--the basement shouldn't be too bad for it, especially if I seal a few cracks. Probably I'll leave it in carboy, possibly on dry hops, while I'm in So. Cal. Next time, I'm planning a barley wine, perhaps I'll consider the Belgian malt routine--one could always make a grain bill with Carastan and different Crystal malts, but why not draw on those lush, fat, totally distinctive Belgian specialty malts? Might be good practice for making a Scaldis type beer. . .


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