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, May 01, 2005

Dr Doom tasting

Since Lisa's busy blogging about her damned uncle, I thought I'd review Dr. Doom, now that's it's spent some time in my fridge. It's got a big meringuey head, a pretty pale gold color, and excellent clarity. I'm drinking this one pretty cold--it can be drunk either way of course, but I lean toward fairly well-chilled Duvel. The nose is dominated by pleasant, delicate fruit and spicy esters--I pick up clove and apple particularly, plus a little earthiness from the hops (Saaz and Styrians). On the palate, it's clean and pretty crisp for a beer of its size (about 8.65% abv). It's not quite as paradoxically un-malty as Duvel, but it is pretty tight all the same.

I can imagine all kinds of ways of spinning a beer like this, with spicing, or a louder yeast strain, or slightly stronger hops--I think what I learned from making this is that Belgian Pilsner malt, plus a good yeast and any sense of balance on the part of the recipe writer, equals a potentially terrific beer. As it warms up you can perceive the alcohol a little more, and richer, sort of malt-liquorier flavors start to come out. Which reminds me that it would be very easy to make this just a little bigger, ferment it a little hotter, and get something like Piraat Ale (Van Steenberge?). If you think about it, these Belgian strong pales are really sort of like the classier Belgian cousins of Miller High Life or Old English 800. They're strong, they're heavily adjuncted, and they try to taste lighter than they are. Not that I wouldn't take 11.2 ozs of Duvel over a case of O.E. . .

The only problem with making this style is that they are rather slow maturing. I figure I'll let six or ten of these get drunk at my party and will try to drink the rest in July, or later ideally. This summer I intend to do a series of La Chouffe inspired beers, which may present similar problems, but I think La Chouffe itself is a percent or so lower alcohol lower than Duvel and my experiences thus far suggest that that makes a big difference in how soon a beer gets ready. Scratch that: I just looked on-line and La Chouffe is 8%. Well, it's still a little lighter. I also got distracted and listened to the "Vive La Chouffe" song for the first time in a few years. -Best- beer theme song -ever-. Look for where it says "Download here the Happy Chouffe Song."

Last sip: Now that it's room temp, it smells a lot like a liquer. Heady stuff.


Blogger Lisa said...

Hey! Enough about my family!

12:59 AM  
Blogger Trina said...

Do you have some crazy complex timing plan for your imminent 'leave of absence' from your beer? Or will you get Lisa to bottle for you?

1:40 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Well, you were blogging about your uncle...

Trina, it's not too hard to plan around leaving. I've only got two beers in carboy now. They're both close calls. Either I'll bottle them right before leaving, or just age them another month in carboy--they're both strong beers which will be pretty happy aging either way. Oh, and I think Lisa would NOT dig bottling for me in my absence...

8:52 PM  

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