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, August 09, 2005

Summer Beers and Fantome L'Ete

I've just discovered that wheat beer is a stunning match with Indian food. Dinner was pork vindaloo, spinach dahl, and rice. My hefe-weizen was a natural, cutting through the richness and starch, lifting the heavier flavors, and playing off the fruity-spicy aromas with its banana/clove thing. That beer turned out pretty good. Unfortunately, it's also gone. Damnit. Next summer I will brew roughly the same beer, but keg condition it longer. This one came into its own only just as I was finishing it up. So I need another summer beer. There's a Belgian pale that will be ready to tap in a couple days, and it should be good, but I wish I had something brighter. So perhaps I can make something with a really quick turnaround for early September, which'll still be a little hot.

For inspiration, I'm sipping a Brasserie Fantome L'Ete, which is bowling me over. Nice gold color (pilsner malts with a hint of munich?). Incredible lacework--a head you could basically eat for lunch. Prickly carbonation. Funky, offbeat nose melds noble hops, a little cork character, some barn-yardiness, and brilliant, juicy, pear fruit. The palate is totally beguiling--sweet and sour at the same time with some slightly rougher graininess. Could this be an alternate grain like rye or spalt? The Fantome beers are always just totally engrossing and it's hard to figure what exactly they're putting in these things, as nothing is off limits. Witness their heart-rendingly beautiful dandelion beer. As this warms up, a huge spiciness bursts into the aromatics. Coriander plus a hot ferment? I just drank the chunky sediment at the bottom--these are rustic beers--but I'm inclined to get another bottle, learn to culture yeast, and brew something similar in December for next summer. Am I crazy?

Note to self: Fantome website, en francais, gives some hints about some of their weirder ingredients: Chamomille, apple juice, juniper, etc.

That apple juice thing might just be too suggestive, but that has me thinking that my last few sips feel a little like a half cider. Could it be? Now that I'm thinking this, it really smells like a jazzier apple cider. . . I think I just might try that.

Anyway, that was an enchanting beer and an encouragement to allow random fantasies and impulses to govern one's brewing.


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