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, March 30, 2010

Dogfish Head Burton Baton

Random tasting notes on the above:

Pretty intriguing beer. 10% DIPA meets old ale with some oak aging for one or the other or both. Haven't exactly researched this. It has elements that are clearly right out of the DFH 90-minute wheelhouse: Sweet, smooth, candied malt character; floral piney hops. There is an earthiness and an oaky vanilla aspect that is a welcome addition to the profile. The high alcohol is nicely concealed and the edges of the beer well rounded.

The other night I had a sip or two of bourbon (Elmer T. Lee), and then poured a half pint or so of my draft IPA (all Simcoe) without rinsing the glass. The resulting elixir has inspired me to contemplate a serious bourbon barrel DIPA. Might be phenomenal if properly executed. I like the Burton Baton but I think I could do better with a little luck, simply because these DFH IPA's are always just a little bit too malt-balanced for me. I'd prefer something a tad drier, but with some of the same tenuous balance between the rich and the hoppy.

Looking at brewing a hoppy spring Belgian pale this weekend, I think...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Drinking as Literature

From a home brewing standpoint, the recovery continues: I've got an IPA to keg and a Saison to bottle. Two new kegs, a porter and a pale ale, are ready to queue up. Should brew something this weekend and had best figure it out.

From a trip-taking, drinking, note-taking standpoint, I've got a note-pad from CA to transcribe:

Went to Russian River and boy-howdy does Vinnie know how to make beer. The highlights from an afternoon of dangerous over-consumption:

Temptation: Kumquatty, gorgeous tartness; wonderful mild oakiness. Chardonnay on one level but a grassy Sauvignon Blanc on another. One of my ten favorite commercial beers in the entire world. Maybe top five. That's why I had it first. I have four bottles of various RR beers including this for a contemplative tasting or three.

Supplication: Never had this before. Where to start? Great tart character, like Temptation. Kinda Rodenbach-y in so far as it does not contain, but feels like it might, tart and dark cherries. Burgundy-like fruit. Brilliant balance between the tart, the woody, and the fruity.

Consecration: Zinfandel aftertaste noted by K. DeAnda. Oaky. Rindy. Cherry/berry meets thick sweet/tart pomegranite. Hell of a beer.

Rejection: Nice black malt haracter. A little toasty, burnt fruit. Hazelnut. This is a flat-out beautiful beer and I love the black beer for Valentine's day routine.

Russian River IPA: Herbal hops. At this point we were headed south. I wrote "flavory" and Kier noted "cold."

Pliny the Elder revived our spirits and I scribbled something about asking the brewer how they get that astonishingly fresh dry hop aroma. It's out of this world. I had a great bottled Blind Pig a few days later too.

Some days later, at Barclay's on College Ave. in Berkeley, which smells funny (the bar not the whole town), I had Big Sky IPA, which was sorta weird. Seemed like a lager in some ways. Port's Wipeout IPA, by contrast, was its usual delish self.

At one of the bay area's many brilliant liquor stores I got some assorted bottles and brought them to a gathering:

Stone/Jolly Pumpkin/ Nogne O (pretend there are slashes through each O in that), Special Holiday Ale. Crazy ingredients list on this, with Barley, hops, water, yeast, malted oats, rye malt, chestnuts, juniper berry, white sage, and caraway. WTF. The diverse elements are nicely amalgamated which makes sense given the '2008 ' on the bottle. Great spiritous malt character, with the spices blending in and the palate remarkably uncloying.

Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire: This is sort of a black saison: earthy, bone dry, 1/4 to 1/2 tart. Fun stuff. JP is like the American Fantome--I love these beers.

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja: Had this in Philly and wanted another taste. Brilliant tannic/tart combo with lots of earthiness. Huge fan of this stuff.

New Belgium La Folie was, I underlined, "Awesome." This is a brilliant sour beer, very much in the class of the best Belgian examples with a huge cherry/molasses/plum nose.

Port Brewing Hop 15 is a great DIPA with a simply massive green hop aroma that almost smells and tastes like pot. Grahm-crackery malt holds it together, barely.

Shit. I had some other things, but stopped writing down.

I had a Russian River Damnation Batch 23 courtesy of Jeremiah, which was totally extraordinary, as always. I need to inquire about how to brew something similar, an oak-aged Belgian strong pale.

What else? Oh, there was an anniversary beer from Sierra, for their 30th, co-brewed with Fritz Maytag. Nice, beltingly warm, but beautifully balanced imperial stout in a big corked bottle.

There was a tasting of forgotten carboys from Jeremiah's garage. A solid Flanders red. An astonishingly good Kriek. A carboy or two of unspeakable poison.

Oh, in San Fran, I had a terrific local Czech pils with a silly name that had a pun on "czech / check." What the hell was it called and who brewed it?

I had a fresh bottle of Green Flash Imperial IPA which was fabulous.

At various places I had Racer Five, always good, and more Pliny, too much Pliny really.

Some good New Belgium and Lagunitas beers from J and L's fridge: NB Tripel. Lagunitas IPA and The Hairy Eyeball.

Coupla Anchor Steams somewhere or other.

Right now, I'm having a bottle of Below Decks that MC kindly left in my kegerator. Very English barley wine. Great malt balance, subtly hopped mostly to balance. Delish.