Monday, August 12, 2013

Alpine - Duet IPA Review

Alpine Duet IPA
Brewery: Alpine Beer Co. (CA)
Style: American IPA
ABV: 7%
Grade: A

Before starting — the wonderful beer blog which you presumably are currently reading, or at least briefly glancing at — I had a crappy general-purpose review blog that, statistically speaking, you did not read. I reviewed books, and sometimes music, and other blog-reviewer-person nonsense. I found reviewing books to be fairly easy, in the sense that each book sort of rolled out its own discussion, in my head — most books, good or bad, weird or straightforward, were equally easy to discuss. Generally there's a lot to talk about in a book, so there's more to do than just describing it with various similar adjectives.

Beer, on the other hand, seems to be either super easy, super straightforward to review, or alternately, a real exercise in verbal gymnastics. Beer reviews rarely just roll out.

The problem with reviewing a beer like Duet is that it's focused on two primary ingredients — Simcoe and Amarillo hops — that I have had in many beers before, and know the profiles of quite well, yet Duet manages to feature them in such a way so that they taste quite unlike all those other beers featuring these same two hops. The hops in Duet seem to scream: "You think you know me? You don't know me!" And they're right. The beer is soft and gentle, along the lines of Maine Beer's Lunch IPA, but with even less bitter snap. Instead, the focus is almost entirely on hop-flavor. Allow me to describe that hop flavor in detail to you, as any good beer review would do. The hop flavor here is: great. It has nuances of deliciousness, with subtle hints of holy-crap. There's a ripe, fruity awesomeness undercurrent that really pops due to the lack of bitterness. Another way to describe Duet would be: "!"

Duet IPA has almost zero bitterness. Alpine not only sells the soft, smooth, full-flavored angle, which many great IPAs do, but it does so with an actual lack of IBUs, suggesting that bitterness was not just ignored, but avoided; the focus is entirely on the glorious union of Simcoe and Amarillo. (I believe the IBUs are somewhere in the 40's, which is obviously extremely low for an IPA). The combo results in flavors that surpass the mundane; that make you wonder how these two hops can be so frequently used, and yet so often found in beers lacking half the complexity of Duet.

Just please make sure to drink this fresh: with so little bitterness to provide the closing "snap," I imagine the flavors in Duet fade quite rapidly — hop nuance starts vanishing within a week or two. After a month or two, Duet would be quite a different beer.

Availability: Rotating release. 22 ounce bottle.

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