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, August 20, 2006

Hooky Bitter

It's going to be British ale brewing season pretty soon so this Hooky Bitter, kindly hand-imported by Andrew, is a timely inspiration. It's quite pale, not much darker than my IPA--a little oranger maybe. It's really soft and subtle--almost ephemeral. You could drink about forty of these while playing cards or darts. The nose combines a sutble floweriness and a whiff of walnutty malt. The palate is similarly subtle, but does pick up a relatively bracing bitterness in the finish--though soft, it has beautifully defined contours, thanks to the judicious hopping.

So, I pretty much get how to brew American pub-style beers with few (almost no?) misteps; it's so much easier, as minor flaws are easily hidden by big, gallumphing crystal malt flavors and robust, domestic hop varieties. These British deals are tough and my experiences have been more mixed. Probably this fall, I'll make a bitter and a brown or a porter or something on this Cask Ale strain I have in the fridge. Other British endeavors will probably use 1028 and/or London III. If I know me, I'll get frustrated and drift off into the far larger and more forgiving Old British Beers recipes after a little while... You get a lot more flavor and alcohol and lot more to hide behind if your recipe emplys, say, 4 lbs of brown malt and 5 oz of Goldings. But I'll try to take a crack at some of the modern standards.


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