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, November 10, 2005

Attempt to resume blogging/Sub-Committee IPA

OK, I'm going to attempt to revive this thing, after a month or so of pitiful activity. It's annoying that I have no record of my drinking over that period. . .

My new IPA is ready to drink and I am just tickled fucking pink about it. My first IPA (discounting a kit or two early on) was a success and featured massive amounts of Chinook hops, supported by Columbus and a little Cascade. It was called Eastern Thing. It was really good, as almost any beer dry hopped with Chinook generally is. Chinook, if you're not familiar with it, is a high-alpha Pacific-Northwest hop with a very recognizable aromatic. It's sort of like a piney, resiny quality, with some grapefruit sharpness to it.

This IPA tries to get just a little more subtle. It's called Sub-Committee IPA because I designed it in a meeting of the Sub-Committee on India Pale Ale, part of the Amalgamated Brewers' Guild. That's fancy-talk for "I had my neighbor over and we drank like eight IPA's and took notes." For the Sub-Committee version, I took the gravity down a couple points and the IBU's down about ten. I don't have my notes in front of me, but my ProMash plan claims it was going to be 1063 with 66 IBU. That's still plenty bitter, but my idea was to make it dance a little more than the first one, to have fewer rough edges and a little more spring in its step.

It worked. The aromatics are stunning. I used a subtler combination of finishing hops. I dry-hopped with Chinook (but less of them and for a slightly shorter time). At the end of the boil I threw in an ounce each of Mt. Hood, Columbus, and Cascade. The idea was to tone down the rampant piney quality in favor of more of a melange of hops. The Cascade contribute most of the citrus. Mt Hood is a hybrid (I think) of a European hop called Hallertau. It's very spicy and floral by itself. Columbus is both citrusy and resiny and sharp; the Chinook puts it over the top, layering on that piney depth.

The first IPA was also first-wort-hopped, meaning you soak hops in the wort as it comes out of the mash, promoting hop flavor but not aroma. I thought it gave the other beer a slightly rough palate, so I'm leaning toward saving that technique for big, monstrous Imperial IPA's, or, at any rate, for IPA's with gravities over 1075. So I didn't do it on this one.

The aromatics of the Sub-Committee are fairly vast. It's floral, very spicy, and emphatically grapefruity. There's a modest Chinooky sharpness and a whiff of alcohol (6.7%?). The palate is full of vivid hop flavor, primarily from an ounce of Columbus earlier in the boil and the residual effect of the Chinook bittering charge. There's also a subtle, but important, balancing nutty malt character. The finish lingers big time: all hops. It's very tightly put together and I can only think of 2 or 3 commerical IPA's that strike me as comparable. Way to go me.