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, February 19, 2006

Sax-a-ma-phone + Blue Hood

I'm trying to check up on several of my beers so I can keep track of what the hell I'm doing, learn from mistakes, etc. Here's the first of some assorted home-brew tasting updates.

"Sax-a-ma-phone," my second attempt at the strong Belgian pale style, has some good stuff going on, especially for such a young beer. . .

Appearance: Big, moussey, white head. Delicate pilsner color with tremendous clarity.

Aromatics: Estery--peaches, pears, some banana but not too much. Good, grassy/spicey Saaz character.

Palate: Clean and full. Very restrained bitterness. My only complaint is that the first half of the beer was better than the second--It started at like 55 degrees and I think it probably ought to be served at 48-50. It warms up too quick in a big Duvel glass and starts to feel less focused. I'll have to restrain myself. I suspect in a couple months the malt will get tighter, temp will be less of an issue, and this will be better from start to finish. At the moment it tails off a little bit in the late palate.

Next, "Blue Hood" pale ale, which is an exercise in counter-intuitive recipe construction. The idea was to make something in the vein of an APA only without using any normal ingredients for the style. Hence, 1053-ish, 38 IBU's, all-Vienna grist, all-Mt. Hood hop schedule. The gravity and IBU's are about in line with Sierra Nevada pale ale, but, well, this doesn't taste anything like that at all.

It's very pale with nice clarity and a remarkably dense, meringue-y head. Is there something about single-infusing Vienna that might do this?? Despite fairly liberal use, the Mt. Hood presence is relatively subtle. They've got a lovely spice character and remind me very much of one or another noble hops--they are bred from Hallertau, I think. Just underneath the spicy hopping is a layer of wonderful malt aroma, a kind of sweet-smelling breadiness. The palate balances subtle hop bitterness (doesn't feel nearly as bitter as SNPA--but then Cascades are a lot rougher) and a very clean maltiness. I love Vienna--it does really neat shit for your beer. This beer is a nice experiment. If I try it again, I could see dropping in one specialty malt (CaraRed?) or upping the hopping a little for a crisper, snappier beer. As a subtle session beer, this is pretty solid. All hail US-56.


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