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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rogue Juniper Pale Ale

Another random beer tasting...

The aforementioned is a very pale pale ale (3.2 L). According to the bottle, it's 13 degrees Plato, 77 AA, and 34 IBU. That would make it about 5.3% a.b.v., by my calculations. Ingredients: Northwest Harrington, Crystal, Triumph, Maier Munich, C-15; Styrians and Amarillos and juniper berries.

I think it's great, overall. Aromatically, you get a general whiff of hops, nothing too overbearing, underlain by an earthy pepperiness I take to be the juniper berries. There's an elegant, supple malt character (moderate malty depth from, I guess, the Munich and Crystal 15). The juniper effect kicks in most dramatically in the finish, which is really pretty distinctive. I have some juniper berries kicking around and that's definitely the earth/pepper thing.

So, sometime when I get sick of brewing basic pale ales or IPA's, this'd be a pleasant experiment, brewing a nice malty pale and spiking it with the ginny goodness of juniper...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Flying Dog Double Dog

Saw this at Marcy Discount Beverage and thought, "what the hell..."

It's a fairly deep color, drifting toward amber.

What's the difference between a double pale ale and a barley wine anyway?

This is 1.102 with 10.5% a.b.v. and 85 I.B.U. so it's pretty much in barley wine territory.

The nose balances (kind of) a huge layered malt character and pretty intense hops (Cascade and Columbus according to their site). It is definitely not a double IPA given the serious malt warmth and fat heaviness--much more like a 'roided up pale ale. So they named it right... The palate is really huge, swinging toward deeply weighted dextrinous malt flavor.

It gets more complex as it warms up, the herbal, almost vegetal, occasionally minty, dry hop character dancing with the over-blown and delicately fruity malt flavors.

I think I'll save the other two bottles for winter.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fall Hits the Brewery

It's beginning to feel like Fall and this makes me want to crank up production. Last weekend saw the brewing of a brown ale (based on a Smuttynose recipe) and the bottling of three promising new beers: Van de Velde's Belgian Pale Ale, Star Chamber II Double IPA, and The Curse of the Silver Thermometer Saison (long story). They should really all be good, which is a much-needed shot in the arm given my relatively low stocks and a couple of very mediocre batches that make it look like I have more beer in the basement than I really do...

Yesterday I harvested almost 2 lbs of luscious Cascade hops and today most of them went into a wet hop ale. It's about 1065 with a little more crystal/Munich than usual for a deeper color and fuller malt character. I chucked in .7 oz of regular, dry Chinook to make sure it had adequate heft. The amount of Cascade required to get anywhere near normal bitterness was just sort of ridiculous. The idea is apparently to use wet hops as you would dry, only use five times as many. So I first wort hopped with 5 oz, bittered with 5 oz plus the Chinook corrective, and slammed it with 8 oz at shut-off. There will of course be a keg dry hop as well. I have high hopes for it.

The beer of the moment is the newest keg to come on line, a super subtle English bitter with oak chips in it to crudely simulate the serving conditions at my favorite Sam Smith's pub in London. It tastes highly English, I love the delicacy of it, and you can pretty much drink up with a starting gravity of only 1039 or so.

Coming soon: A few commercial beer reviews.

Upcoming brews: Pumpkin Ale, bottled Porter, Ardennes IPA Tripel, Overdue Barley Wine???

Saturday, September 01, 2007

RIP Michael Jackson

Dear readers,

As you toast the late lamented Michael Jackson, off and on, over the ensuing weeks and months and years, here's my favorite little interview for you to keep in mind:

I think we can all see ourselves, for a moment, in the pro's and con's of being a professional beer writer, even if his commitment thereto is something to which we can only amateurishly aspire. As a kind of professional writer myself, I might say that Mr. Jackson, in addition to being a beer expert, a whiskey expert, and a bon vivant, was an under-rated writer. He wrote with a wonderful, very British reserve: elegant but not flashy; occasionally emotive but never sloppy; concise without being spare; witty without being ostentatiously clever. Everyone who appreciates the quality of beer available here (wherever that is) and now owes him a debt of gratitude.