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!


  1. Looks like a tasty beer. Amarillo/Simcoe is delicious.

    Keg dryhopping has been working well for me. Still more experimenting to be done on timing/temps/ & rolling keg to keep hops in suspension. Regardless keeping away from oxygen always helps

    try this bottling device/method :
    its served me well with bottles it great condition @ a year even

    1. Yeah, I've checked out that link before, along with some videos on YouTube... definitely something I'll be trying in the near future!

  2. Good pics man. Bet this is a tasty beer. I miss the actual Duet too!

    1. Thanks! Not on the same level as your pictures, though.

      Yeah, I'd kill to have actual Duet. I had a few prospects a month or two ago that looked great, but as usual they seem to have fallen through.

  3. I'd like to try brewing this one at some point. I'm interested in how one would extract the aroma/flavor that is comparable to what Alpine does with this. Have you ever looked into tinkering with a hop oil calculator ? Here's one you could use that could be helpful:

    It's from Oregon State Univ, which does some awesome studies on hops. Infact they have the breakdown of the oil content in Duet, which is very helpful for your recipe. I put in your hop blend and it looks like it's pretty close to Duets content, which means it's probably all about the levels of dry hopping and late addition amounts/temp. you are using.

    Oil Your Hop Blend Alpine Duet
    Myrcene 40.50% 41.0%
    Caryophyllene 12.10% 12.0%
    Humulene 25.90% 26.0%
    Farnesene 1.30% 1.0%

    I noticed you are adding your late addition/hopstand additions at flameout. Is that immediate post boil ? Or are you letting the temp drop down to 180F range before hopstanding/steeping for 20-30min ? Reason I ask is I've had some better results with aroma/flavor in the 180F to 170F range when I hop stand. Less of the hop oils vaporize off at the lower temp.

    Anyway, when I try brewing your recipe, I'll let you know how it turns out. I enjoy your blog and posts, BTW !

    1. Nice, thanks for the link... and for doing the work for me!

      My flameout hops for this beer were divided in two... half directly at flameout for a 15 or 20 minute hop steep, then I added the other half and turned on the chiller. I don't think I took the temp beforehand, but when I have in the past the temp is usually at 185 F or so by then. Maybe next time I'll wait a bit longer, or at least keep a closer eye on the temp and add them below 180 F. 185 is pretty close though; I suspect, as I mentioned, that paying even stricter attention to preventing oxidation, and keg-hopping, will probably help as well.

      Thanks for the kind words about the blog, and do let me know how your attempt turns out!

    2. I ended up completing my Duet'ish type clone. I actually had a chance to get out to San Diego in early April and went to Alpine Brewing sampled some Duet. My beer is a bit different than yours. I used more late addition hops p/gal. and also went with hop extract. You can check out my recipe here: Aside from that, the grain bill is a bit different, but overall from an SRM standpoint it's the same. I've got this carbed up now, and to be quite honest I think my version of an Amarillo/IPA is better than the Duet I had. More aromatic. I think the key with this beer is control of mash pH and sparge water pH. My mash was right at 5.3 and I brought my sparge water down to 6 pH. I've also got pretty good water where I'm at so only minimal additions of CaCl and gypsum are required.

    3. Wow, that's a lot of hops! Thanks for letting me know how yours came out.

      I've been wanting to pay more strict attention to my mash pH... definitely have to buy a pH meter soon. I also need to get some phosphoric acid or something to bring my sparge water pH down.