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, November 25, 2006

Valediction IX

Not every beer gets a valediction; this is a slightly arbitray process, but sometimes I feel a beer needs a good-bye and it's a good excuse to post something. This has positively got to be the last full pint--though the seemingly immortal keg has still not kicked--of what I called Rebar Porter (in vague tribute to some work on Randy's bridges), the second of two porters I've made with Dave Yarrington's Smuttynose porter recipe. I tasted this one alongside his and it is -not- a clone. Mine, despite having a prety high final gravity, feels a little leaner; his is fuller and much, much more chocolatey. And yet I've used the same grain bill. I think that we are using different chocolate malts (the beer has a lot of chocolate in it) and that this is the only logical explanation. I could also imagine omitting the subtle touch of finishing hops that I use and seeing if that helps.

Anyway, I don't care, because this is a lovely porter. The nose shows clean, restrained rostiness from the dark malts, marked by a suggestion of floral American hops (but it is hardly hoppy). There's also some underlying burnt fruit, suggestive of figs or prunes, and almost certainly derived from the liberal use of Belgian Special "B." The palate is fairly rich, with nice bitter-sweetness throughout. Not a beer for contemplation so much as it is for robust winter labor: toss one down after raking leaves in sub-40-degree and you could do a lot worse. This is a recipe to which I will return off and on for some time, tweaking this or that and looking for different specialty malt producers from time to time.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Alaskan Smoked Porter

Fuck. This blog has really died down of late. I blame my stinking career and various general anxieties.

I'm drinking a bottle of Alaskan Smoked Porter in preparation for making, in the immediate future, a good smoked porter. I have no hardwood-smoked malt in stock right now, but I do have a pound of peat-smoked malt which I think should do interesting things. The Alaskan has a wonderful smoky aroma and a rich, smoky palate. It really is more of a smoked beer than it is a porter. To produce something similar would probably require the use of home-smoked malt, or perhaps Weyermann rauchmalt as a base malt, accented by crystal and chocolate. What a lovely beer...

I'm likelier, right now, to just throw together a nice porter recipe with plenty of deep crystal malts and some chocolate malt, subbing a pound of Fawcett peated in for a pound of the base malt. How bad can that be, really? The key is probably to keep the black/chocolate malts in modest enough proportion that they don't totally drown out the smoke aromatics. I've brewed some totally opaque porters, but they do not need to be that way every time. They can just look black in the glass and actually flash translucent red when held up to a light. There's a big difference between 18 and 30 S.R.M.

My other imminent brewing problem is deciding what to make with a packet of 1028 London. Something not too high in gravity needs to be brewed to create an uber-powerful yeast cake for the eventual production of 1856 Barclay Perkins Imperial Double Brown Stout Take Two.