Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

My Photo
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, July 30, 2006

Valedictions I and II

It's time to bid adieu to a few beers, so I'll pay them tribute on the way out.

Here's the final bottle of Probation Pale, a nice A.P.A. It's got a pretty predictable hop combo (Chinook/Cascade) but there's a little wrinkle to the grain bill--10 oz. of Fawcett Amber malt. Amber malt is tricky. It's over-bearing and too much of it can make a beer into a caricature. But a little bit can give a lovely subtle "black tea and wheat thins" kind of malt character that comes through both in the nose and in the palate. I'd brew this again without change. The malt character is toasty enough that it could support more finishing hops, but I think I'd rather keep the melange of hop and malt that characterizes the nose as it is.

Damn. There it went.

I'm resting, by the way, while my drill recovers. I'm laying cement board in my bathroom and the drill was starting to smell a little like my Belgian Wit (Rim-shot/Ed McMahon sounds). So I decided I'd let it cool off for a bit. Hence one more beer.

This one's gonna hurt: The final bottle of Sub-Committee IPA. The IPA I return to for inspiration. The first time I really nailed it. The hop bouquet is floral and lovely. This got a Chinook dry hop atop late additions of Cascade, Columbus, and Mt. Hood. I love the subtlety and balance of this beer. I see that I only left the dry hops in for six days--that may be what is allowing the elegance of the Cascade and Mt. Hood to slip through and compete. If I didn't know what this was, I think I'd have real difficulty naming the dominant hop, or identifying much of the combo here. I think they melded somehow in a way I couldn't have predicted. The palate is dry and clean but with just enough malt character to hold up to the bittering hop (Chinook of course).

As I'm working on my varietal hop project and making IPA after IPA that is not quite as good as this one, I'm struck by how much I like the rougher bittering hops. The Warrior and Amarillo IPA's, despite having nifty aromatics (especially the Amarillo), were not as bracing and bitter as, say, Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, and Cascade. Simcoe is next I think, which may compare better to the C-hops--we'll see. I think I'm leaning toward a dream IPA that is just a clone of this one. Centennial is really worthy of its own annual single-hop spin-off, as is Columbus. Chinook is staggeringly good for bittering and dry hopping, but it needs a little help from its friends to really go over the top. Cascade is pretty good all by itself. I think Amarillo is a great late hop, but not that great for other things. Warrior is also just a little too soft for me. I've done all Mt. Hood on pale ales (this is sort of an experimental off-shoot). I'll also do all-Santiam and a couple of others for hops that don't seem big enough for IPA's all by themselves. Mt. Hood rocks and is particularly nice in an accent role in any kind of IPA.

Anyway, Sub-Committee was great and it's gone. Good night sweet prince...

That's not sentimentalizing Shakespeare by the way. I'm quoting Walter Sobchack not Hamlet.


Post a Comment

<< Home