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 27, 2006

Valedictions VII and VIII

1872 Flower's Christmas Porter meet 1850 Whitbread's London Porter.

Last winter, I was infatuated with making old British beers, after the astonishing revelation that was 1856 Barclay Perkins Imperial Brown Stout. Most were good. There was an oatmeal stout that somehow didn't quite live up to its promise, and an 80-Schilling that was good but not great. But these two porters were spectacular, particularly the 1872 on draft. Small bottled stocks existed and I'm down to the last bottle of each. Well, I was until I poured both of them to help me conceptualize what I want to brew this winter with my remaining brown and amber malt.

They're both almost impenetrably dark. The London has a better head, but it's also slightly over-carbed, so that's kind of a wash. They have relatively similar grists, but the London has a lower gravity; the Christmas has a pound of sugar and 13 less IBU's. Both were brewed with Wyeast 1084. Both have deep, burnt aromatics, but the London is a trifle harsher and the Christmas has richer underlying fruit (figs and red wine?) and a more complex, volatile, aromatic profile overall--plus an eerily numbing palate. Lisa prefers the Christmas and I think I agree, but it's very close.

Yep. I've thought about it more and sipped back and forth for several minutes and I'm a big fan of the 1872 Christmas. It brings me back to how soft and gorgeous it was on draft. I'll do this again sometime in October or November, serve it on draft young, save a few bottles, and step the yeast up into another big porter or stout. Or maybe one of the various interesting strong ales in the book...

One question would surround the yeast. 1084 did an awfully good job. I may have to buy a pack. Otherwise, I could use 1028 London and use the Christmas Porter as a staging beer for a second batch of imperial. Wow. I've missed dark beers... I shouldn't really confine them to winter, but I do find porters and stouts more satisfying the earlier it gets dark.


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