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 06, 2014

End of an Era: Wilds and Sours

I obviously forgot about this blog for a good three years.  Two of those years saw me in brewerly survival mode:  I chucked together a string of basic pale ales and IPA's, punctuated with the occasional Belgian, just enough to keep the kegerator up and running maybe half the time, with Belgians stashed in the basement to keep stocks from vanishing.

About six months ago, I kicked up the activity level, making a bunch of new Belgians and a string of hoppy beers, converting to pellets and incorporating some new procedures in search of bigger aromas and flavors (inspired by things like Knee Deep Simtra and Stone Enjoy By).

Today we bid adieu, or nearly adieu, to a series of antiques.  Tasting with me are Lisa, Andrew Rudd, and Benjamin Rudd.

1.  Flanders Red, last bottle, brewed 11/13/05.  Batch 44.  Over the hill, but still special.  Little touch of vinegariness.  Both aromatics and palate a trifle thin, particularly the palate.  Earthy brett, ultra dry.  Again, thin...  But this recipe could be reproduced with no need for tweaking as far as I'm concerned.  Probably peaked in year six?

2.  Vinification, Chardonnay Ale, brewed 2/9/08.  Batch 139.  This was pitched with lambic blend AND Roeslare.  Interesting.  This is the penultimate bottle.  Brett brux character reminds me of my all-Brett beer, half sour leatheriness and so on...  The winey quality is uncanny.  The vanilla-ish oak character is key, but I think the yeast has more to do with it than the Chardonny oak-soak.  Delicately tannic quality.  This is a really distinctive beer.

3.  Frambozen.  Is this batch 145F?  From 2008?  I'm not sure.  But once upon a time I combined infected bock, infected kolsch, and infected dubbel, and added raspberries, one time adding extra Weizen wort that wouldn't fit in a carboy that spontaneously fermented in a spare bucket.  Who knows?  Holy shit, it's pushing balsamic vinegar.  The nose is a little stinky, cheesy; the palate is full of tart pie elements.  134F and 138F are other candidates.  Whatever it is, it's around six years old, and, if you like sour sours, it's pretty amazing.  Long ago, I had a string of infections due to being an idiot and mis-diluting BTF iodophor.   The saving grace was these weird blends, which were often delicious.

4.  Amalgam, N.Y. Lambic.  Batch 39, brewed 10/2/05.  Ultra skanky.  Always been too much.  Should really be a blending beer.  It blends very well with a younger, draft raspberry beer.  This unblended lambic, which still exits in some quantity, could be an astonishing accent for a younger, less remarkable beer.  Make this 25% of some blend, soon-ish...

Interlude:  Barbequed country ribs, smoked meatloaf, and salt potatoes find a mediocre old pilsner for accompaniment...

5.  Moreval, Batch 109, 1/15/07 brewdate.  This is one of multiple beers inspired by Orval.  This one is seven years old or so, and the brett has taken over completely.  Pineapple.  Horseblanket.  Roeslare blend is an interesting choice with these.  You never know what you'll get, and the beer can go through really awkward phases, but when the balance is right, it's right.  This balance, brett-centric with hops in the extreme background, is surprisingly pleasant.

6.  "Orval-ish thing," batch 200, 5/2/10.  A younger version of the above.  Roughly the same recipe formulation, though totally different hop varieties.  Rather than Roeslare, this used Wyeast 3789.  Barnyard character is slower to emerge, under a little fruit, but it's there.  Little bit more winey somehow.

7.  New version, "XX-inspired," (needs a name), brewed 7/1/14.  Like the two above, but with no crystal malt and better hop choices, and super fresh, just a scant month in the bottle.  French Saison dries it out, and brett makes an appearance later, with liberal dry hopping (Santiam and German Brewer's Gold).  Lighter and brighter than the above, but I imagine it should age just as well.

8.  Oaky Saison:  Red-wine soaked oak chips and brett accent a super strong saison.  Mead aromas, hints of leathery brett.  Good stuff.


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