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, June 27, 2006


I was at Beers of the World in Rochester and I couldn't resist a random Lagunitas beer. I've been a Lagunitas fan for some time but they're hard to find on the right coast. They're a pretty off-beat micro from, I think, Petaluma, CA that I used to drink a lot in Berkeley. They feature a very malty IPA, some good chunky session beers, very chunky barley wines, an imperial red I liked a lot, a surprisingly subtle and well-crafted pils, all sorts o' beers really... The house style is highly malt dominated. To be sure, the beers are often quite bitter, but they favor, I think, very large crystal malt additions and/or very hot mashes. Anyway, I've a soft spot for them.

The new beer I found is "Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale." This is a big beer (9.9% a.b.v.) brewed in commemoration of the suspension of their brewing license due to some undercover cops busting pot smokers at a brewery event. Said the brewery founder: "We sell to people who by definition are counterculture: They're not drinking Budweiser. We never eschewed it (pot) as if it was somehow an evil thing. If it was part of the world, we let it in."

Yeah, man. . . So the beer is fun. It's a nice bright copper color with a decent head. The nose smells like a mixture of Crystal 60 and probably Columbus and Chinook hops. It smells dense, if that makes any sense. On the palate it's rich and mildly sweet but with a nice balancing bitterness. The finish is jazzy and bitter, not too heavy for a beer of this girth. When I was reading about the brewery's sordid adventures on-line I saw that some taster on Beer Advocate referred to this as a double E.S.B. That's just about exactly right.

I guess what I like about Lagunitas beers is that they taste kinda like homebrew. Are they always good? No. Is the balance sometimes suspect? Yes. Are they fun to drink and full of character? Absolutely.


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