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.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

IPA: Checking the Doubles--Planning Simcoe/Santiam

I may regret this, but I just poured two glasses of double IPA--my first and second attempts thereat. The first was purely my own concept, conceived in a vacuum, dedicated to the notion that a double IPA could be screamingly hoppy and elegant at the same time. The second is indebted to Pliny the Elder. I diverted from a Pliny clone due to hop availability, but it's intended to be pretty similar still--paler, leaner, and brasher than my first one.

Excellent heads on both. Pliny the Room-Mate is very pale; Star Chamber is a deep, glowing orange. The nose on the Pliny is screamingly loud, with a vivid Columbusiness that drifts in two directions--an almost strawberry-like fruitiness and a very intense pine character. Despite its greater age (10 months?) the Chamber still has a relatively declamatory nose; it's not as bright but it is more complex, with much more resin than fruit--and much more spice as well.

I can't help comparing faux Pliny to real Pliny (I had one a week ago). Mine compares very favorably in hop character and aromatics; its weak spot is a slight hole in the palate. Pliny has this weird viscosity that's kind of awesome. If I were to brew a beer similar to this recipe again, I would mash it 4 degrees higher and try to get a little more meat on its bones. U.S. 56 is an awfully attenuative yeast, especially when re-pitching.

The Chamber, on the other hand, has a stunning depth of malt. It is the more perfect beer of the two. In this, its twilight, the palate is beginning to develop a barley-wine-esque fatness. I think it peaked at about 6 months of age. You can certainly age DIPA's but I really think they are best when they still have a cleaner, drier feeling, younger malt character. I'll brew this again without alteration when I get around to it, and will feel freer to drink them young.

On a totally unrelated note, the varietal hop project has come to at least a brief halt. I've no more hops that I think are appropriate. I could do an all-Newport or all-Santiam IPA, but I seriously doubt either hop has the requisite back-bone. Instead, I'm going to give Simcoe/Santiam a try. Amarillo/Crystal with Chinook bittering is another concept I had, but I'll let that one wait. I don't have a ton of Simcoe--just enough to do most of the bittering, with an ounce left for dry-hopping. In between, it'll be all Santiam. Just punched it up in ProMash. Oughta be good.

After that?

Batch 100, baby.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stone Smoked Porter

For quite a while I've had two smoked porters sitting around my basement--Alaskan and Stone. There's a pretty good chance that my next dark beer will be a smoked porter and I might as well do the research, right?

The Stone is pretty damned good. It's not impenetrably dark--red clearly shows through when held up to the light. It's 5.9% a.b.v., so they seem to have restrained themselves from making too bulky a beer--atypically. There's a wonderful chocolatiness to the nose, mingled with smoke. The smoke picks up on the palate. I'm pretty sure I read somwhere that they use peat-smoked malt and I'm inclined to guess that that's true. It's a little earthy/peaty, as against the cleaner hardwood smoked routine. Alaskan should be the opposite, but I can't have two right now. This is tremendously balanced, by the way: no exaggerated hoppiness or excessive astringency. The full nose suggests that underlaying the burnt overtones is a fairly generous application of dark crystal malts. A great beer overall.