Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Tasting : Alpine Duet clone, Version 2.0

Post #100! And what better topic to have for this occasion then one talking about the results of my second attempt at brewing a clone of Alpine Duet, one of the best American IPAs I've ever had?

This beer was brewed a mere 6 days after another very hoppy beer, my clone of Maine Beer Company's MO (an American Pale Ale). Both beers were dry-hopped twice in a secondary carboy, and both beers were then kegged. I didn't dry-hop IN the keg because I didn't receive my kegging equipment until afterwards. If you check out the tasting notes for the MO clone, you'll see that while the beer was very tasty, I was a bit disappointed that the hop aroma and flavor wasn't quite as big as I had hoped.

The hopping schedules for these two beers were very similar; Simcoe and Falconer's Flight for the MO clone, Simcoe and Amarillo for the Duet clone. The only difference in amounts was an additional 1/2 oz of each hop in the dry-hop (over two additions). Not exactly a big difference, but there was also a difference in technique: I had my CO2 tank and some tubing when I racked the Duet clone to secondary, so I was able to flush the carboy with CO2 before racking, and then again after adding the dry-hops. I wasn't sure if this would make a difference at all, but I wanted to do what I could to cut down on oxidation.

Well, I'm not sure what exactly the reason is, but this beer definitely has more hop character than the MO clone. Is it as hoppy as the real Duet (a beer I haven't been able to try for 2&1/2 years, I might add)? No. Even though it's been a long time, I know that that beer was hoppier. I think that dry-hopping in the keg would bump it up a bit for me, but realistically I'll probably never be able to replicate that amount of hop goodness... but it doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying! The beer also has a very low, soft bitterness for an IPA, as is expected since the IBUs are only at about 45 or so. It finished nice and dry; there's a bit of malt character, but it's most tropical, fruity hops, and the pine begins to come through as the beer warms. Smooth mouthfeel.

Most of this beer was kegged; however, I did bottle about 4 L of it in case I wanted to enter any competitions, and to give to friends since I don't yet have an expensive or cheap way of bottling from the keg. I shared a couple of bottles with some friends the other night, and while pretty good, they definitely can't compare to the kegged version.

Glad I tried brewing this beer again. Will there be a third version in the future? Probably. I'd likely keep the grist as-is... the change to Crystal 30 L from Victory probably wasn't necessary, though; I think I'd be tempted to go with the grist from the first version, and the hop schedule from this one. Either way, I'm pretty happy with how this came out... if I could bump up the hop character a bit more, it'd be a great IPA.

Appearance: Pours with a moderate-large, white, fluffy and thick head that shows excellent retention, leaving nice sticky lacing on the glass as it gradually fades. Body is a light golden color with some slight haziness.

Aroma: Lots of tropical fruit aroma coming through; maybe a bit of pine, but the fruitiness definitely dominates. A bit of slight sweet malt character, but mostly hops. As the beer warms, the pine comes through stronger.

Taste: Pretty big hop flavor coming through, again a tropical fruit quality is strongest, here. The pine does start to come on a bit stronger towards the end, and as the beer warms. Moderate-low bitterness in the finish, very smooth.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, moderate to moderate-low carbonation.

Overall: I’m pretty happy with how this one came out. I like the soft bitterness of the beer, similar to how I remember Duet being. I still don’t think the hop flavor and aroma is quite as big as it should be; with better dry-hopping technique and fresher hops, I think the recipe will get it there.

EDIT: This wasn't post #100... it was #97... oops!