Written by Maria Devan
Cheers you all and welcome to the second half of my “dubbel feature.” Last time I had the Chimay dubbel. Today I am having the Westmalle dubbel.
The appearance is darker, 17 on the srm chart, a mahogany color that does not have as much golden fire around the edges. Another way to express the color is dark but not burned toast. The head of foam is darker in color. This one is khaki colored and long lasting with some bigger bubbles atop a dimpled rocky head that falls slowly, shimmering in sheets and falls away to spot as you drink. Nose is bready like brown bread and has slight hop grasses on the nose. Rose like qualities on the nose and slightly plummy. Raisins and dried dates in the background and a very light spicy clove. Drinks just like the nose and finishes drier yet malty with a slight bitterness from those grassy hops. Moderate carbonation. The bubbles are hard and plentiful. Slight warming from alcohol.
There are differences in every category from the Chimay Dubbel. In the Chimay beer the color and head were lighter. There was no hops on the nose or in the flavor. The breadiness was biscuit- not brown bread in the Chimay beer. There was no rose like scent and the clove was stronger. There also was no alcohol presence on the Chimay and nothing bitter in the finish. The carbonation was firmer than Chimay. And the Chimay finished sweeter than the Westmalle. Two world class dubbels that have plenty of differences between them.
Sweet haze on a yellow body with a creamy head of white foam that lasts a long time and falls clinging in streaks. Orange with orange pith, twiggy pine and grapefruit. Tropical highlights come to the nose slowly and some sweet green herbal. This beer smells like orange juice! The taste is exactly like orange juice and freshly squeezed to boot! This could be one of Ithaca’s most sensual and exotic beers. There is just a touch of bitterness in the swallow and the body of the beer is pillow-y soft and light for it’s 6.6 abv. It’s a piney sharpness that punctuates the bitterness. This is a quintessential IPA with traditional IPA flavors in the style of the NEIPA. If you have ever wanted to define the style NEIPA you have to do it by the mouthfeel and by the appearance. This beer shows you exactly why this variation on the style has it’s own name. It’s just different enough from the original IPA style to merit it’s own category . This beer is a 4.25 out of 5.
The color is golden amber, the clarity is exceptional and the head is white, uniform and fell modestly to a cap and ring. The mosaic hop is completely under control on the nose and while it hints at orange and shows you some leafy hop greenness too, you cannot smell orange. There is a barely perceptible fruity ester form yeast that tickles the nose like a hint of something sweet. No scent definitions can be applied. Grass. Bread-y with hops making their mark in the body of the beer. A little orange-y tasting but it’s brief and not too overdone as complimentary hop bitter and dryness from perfect attenuation punctuates the moderate carbonation and malty finish. No diacetyl, no dms. I can say no acetyldehyde because I think the fruity ester I was able to perceive is pear like but not sufficient so as to be able to say. There is just a tiny bit of stickiness from hop resin on the tongue as it finishes.
If you have ever had Sunner Kolsch but not too recently as the last batch I had seemed different from my first few, you would have noticed a resiny and substantially bitter hop presence that is not at all fruity. If we say that terroir has to be admitted in order to use local hops in international styles, then this beer meets the style. If you read the guidelines you will note that the style is subject to a not too loose interpretation in that regard. However, they have called it a “Kolsch” instead of a “Kolsch style” ale or beer. This is despite the appellation designation already granted to the Kolsch.
4.1 out of 5. Congratulations Ithaca on a modern yet traditional Kolsch style beer. Their brewing process had to be meticulous.
My score of 4.1 reflects excellence in all five categories but minus a few points for fast falling spots not streaky clinging on the lace which fell just a bit faster than some and was not at all soapy even though it was uniform. Also it reflects the idea that they met the style just a tad bit outside of the flavor parameters with that cheeky point 1 after the 4 and did so with both panache and control.
Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”