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.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Noel des Geants and Gouden Carolus

Another couple holiday things, which will hopefully settle jangled holiday nerves:

The Noel is a pretty damned good beer from Brasserie des Legendes (who must have merged with or absorbed Brasserie Ellezelloise since they currently seem to be making the latter's Hercule Stout?).

Highly effervescent; deep amber in color; nice head. The aromas tend toward the fruit-cakey, but it's good fruit cake, you know? Like with subtle spicing and a range of interesting cherry / apple / raisin aromatics. And it doesn't come off as having an overly "cooked" quality. The palate, while malty, is refreshingly dry which is essential to the beer's success, in my view. It is emphatically not cloying even though it has aromas that might momentarily suggest that possibility. Good stuff.

A good bit closer to cloying is the Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van de Kaiser. At 11% a.b.v. it's sort of in a Scaldis vein and needs to be judged accordingly. It's supposed to be a little sweet and a little heavy. A big, heady, syrupy nose leads into a fairly massive palate. If I hadn't had a Dogfish 120 Minute (yikes) the other day this beer would probably bowl me over a little more. It's big though. There's a little numbing effect that's quite pleasant. A dessert beer, in some sense, but nicely made one. I might like to try the Gouden blonde, which was available at Marcy Discount Beverage, where I bought this one.

Yay, beer sampling...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday beers

I bought some holiday beers and have begun working through them.

As a sort of stupid tax I accidentally bought a year-old Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome. Wasn't that bad considering. It helps that they've finally broken down and started using dark bottles.

Much better was a Hook Norton 12 Days of Christmas. Gorgeous, toasty, brown ale with layers of flavor. Another new experimental beer was an Elysian IPA--not bad, but nothing to write home about. The immortal Sierra Nevada Celebration is lovely, as always.

Right now, on a less holiday-ish note, I'm drinking Stone's 8/8/08, which is effectively a Belgian-style IPA tripel (strong pale, they say). I think it's an awesome beer, quite comparable to IPA tripels brewed by Randy and me. It's fuller and richer than the La Chouffe version of this style. The hopping is high, but also balanced by a full, creamy body. I love what they've done here. The trick, as with any hoppy Belgian, is the age. When does the bubble-gum die down? Does it take too much of the dry hop with it? What's the perfect balance of dryness / ester character / hop? When the malt goes from slightly sweet to steely has the hop aroma already faded too much? These kinds of beers have odd little windows like that, but even it they're a little off, they're still pretty damned good.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Do I still have a blog? a.k.a. Belgian strong pale tasting

It's hard to keep up with brewing these days, let alone bullshit about it herein. I meant to do a deep and thought-provoking comparison between Duvel and my own Doctor Doom II, more or less a broad "clone" of Duvel, but my palate is sort of off and I'm just not feeling that thoughtful. My wife's contribution from the next room, when prompted for subtle observations on the contrasts between the two beers is "they're both nice." Oh well. I'll try anyway:

The commercial beer is a touch paler and a touch clearer--not surprising. Both heads are nice--theirs a little fluffier / lacier, mine a little denser. Both beers have a nose marked by subtly spicy, noble-type hops and a fruity note that seems to be to be pear-like. The pear note is riper in mine. The Duvel nose is a little brighter with a tiny little lemon hint, maybe? The palate probably comes down to a matter of taste, as to what one might prefer. The Duvel has a pretty lean palate; mine, while being, statistically, quite well-attenuated, is a little bit fuller and more rounded. Mine actually reminds me of some of those Canadian Belgian-style beers from Unibroue in precisely this respect.

I'm pleased with how mine came out and it will only get better, I hope. I should probably only have one a month as I find this style ages slowly and becomes really fantastic when 12-18 months old. We'll see. There are also 6 or 8 corked 750 ml bottles in the cellar.

Brewing has been a disaster lately as various aspects of my professional have eaten me alive this semester. I'm essentially out of draft beer for Christ's sake. . . But I've rebounded over the last two weeks, with three new beers fermenting. I have an IPA that's wildly overdue to be kegged and a tripel that's overdue to be bottled. The new beers are Obama's Presidential Brown IPA, "Seasonal Affective Disorder" Toasty Pale Ale, and "I'm Finishin' My Coffee" Stout (one of my trademark, clean-out-the-grain-bins, way-too-many-specialty-malt stouts). So things could be worse. Gotta keg / bottle those, bang out a couple of lagers, maybe a steam beer, finally make a fucking barley wine.... There's a lot to be done when grades are in. So it goes. So it goes . . .