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, March 21, 2006

Final travel update

I'm back, but must reflect on my final bay-area drinking. I just spent my mid-day cleaning out my basement: Sweeping, putting away tools, cleaning up the beer fridge, laundry, beer reorganizing, etc. So a brief rest seemed in order. I'm polishing off the final kegged pint of Blue Hood Pale Ale to wash the dust out of my mouth. I continue to like this beer a lot and will probably do a repeat batch when summer nears.

Anyway, the last day in Berkeley, we wandered down a beautifully sun-lit College Avenue (my favorite rue de Berkeley) and went to Ben and Nick's. The first order of business was a pitcher of the astonishing 8% a.b.v. double IPA from Russian River, Pliny the Elder. Apparently it's not supposed to be given out in pitchers, but the cool, dread-locked waitress cut us a break. At 13 bucks for about four-and-a-half pints, this struck us as a damned good deal. While some members of our crew worked on glasses of Maredsous 8, I cradled my pint of Pliny, giving it several minutes to come up to temp. Even good places over-chill everything, damnit. The Maredsous was in its own glass but it was too cold as well. Anyway, Pliny is spectacular. I love my double IPA but I think theirs is better. As you get good at brewing, finding commercial beers that trump yours gets harder. When it comes to U.S. micros I find the real show-stoppers are usually the odd-ball local finds like this one, as against bottled stuff at your liquor store which has usually been through the wringer, giving your homebrew a real edge. By the way, my friend Kier had the amusing experience of moving back and forth between pints of Pliny and Hoegaarden--quite a challenge for the palate.

The Pliny had a huge viscous body, but still felt pretty well attenuated. The hop character was overwhelmingly huge and unspeakably complex. Before closing the afternoon with a second Pliny, I sampled, from a hand-pump, Drakes Denogginizer (I take the liberty of adding an extra "g" to make the pronunciation clear). This was more like a triple IPA--10%, maybe 11%? The body was thicker, the hop aroma a little more muted but with a huge earthiness to it. Quite a beer. I'm going to nose around and research Pliny. There is a MoreBeer kit available and if it seems authentic, I may call someone there, or track down the details on line, and work up a comparable (and far cheaper) example. Either that or I'll just do mine again and shoot for a touch more viscosity by upping the mash temp.


Blogger Ben, aka BadBen said...

158F on the mash temp should do the trick. I made a nice version using my own homegrown hops. I wish I had more; I'm down to my last gallon.

12:43 PM  
Blogger dingus said...

I would say that a mash at 148 would be best for a pliny.. that and a few lbs of Corn sugar. That beer should be dry and features loads of Zeus or Columbus hops- and an interesting dry hopping plan. Have you listened to the Vinnie interviews on the Brewing Network.. also.. one can email the man himself


8:35 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. It's an interesting issue, 2IPA's and mash temps. I've got one that came out great. The basic stats would be 120 IBU; OG 1086; FG 1016. Alcohol is about 9.3%. It's all-malt and dry-hopped with Warrior, Simcoe, Columbus, and Chinook.

It's a great beer but there was this kind of fat quality to the Pliny that I really dug and that I miss in mine. Mine is lighter on its feet, witness the fairly slender final gravity for a beer of that size. That's 80% attenuation, achieved via a 149 infusion and the indefatigable U.S. 56.

I'd be very afraid of mashing at 158--that might get kinda chunky for my tastes, but I could see going up to 152-3 to get a plusher beer. Mine is almost too light. I guess a 2IPA has to either balance hops with alcohol, or hops with malt; it's just a question of which extreme one prefers.

P.S. I'm still reading your blog Brendan--just haven't figured out where to register--it won't let me comment. . .

5:29 PM  

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