Out in the eastern part of San Diego county, Alpine Beer Company has been brewing beers, most of which variations of pale ales, since 2002. Their distribution range is small in southern California (and I’m not sure how further their range is) but through word of mouth and the trading of their beers, they currently have three beers (all IPAs) on Beer Advocate’s Top Beers On Planet Earth. Duet, their west coast single IPA, is currently one of those beers. Using Simcoe and Amarillo hops “in harmony”, Duet is 7% ABV and 45 IBUs.
Duet pours a hazy golden color with an orange tint. The soapy eggshell white head is about a finger’s worth of depth and doesn’t stick around too long – however it leaves nice lacing as you go. The aroma on this beer is one of the best I’ve smelled. Right out of the bottle you are hit in the face with tropical fruits and grapefruit – I get a lot of dried mango notes. Over time more floral and earthy pine notes appear adding complexity to the nose as it warms. The malts might be in there helping to produce the sweetness in the nose but the “duet” of hops dominates aroma.
Duet drinks differently than most IPAs I’ve had in that it starts with a soft, mellow mouth feel that is similar to a regular pale ale. I don’t get much hops right away – just a bit of grapefruit fruitiness. Some sweetness appears mid tongue, similar to what you get in the nose, with honey-like malt, but it’s soon overrun at the back of the tongue with piney, earthy bitterness from the hops. The malt flavor does remain, having a cracker, toast like dryness. Temperature has wider effect on this beer compared to other IPAs like Green Flash’s West Coast IPA (watch Chris’ review of that beer), making Duet a very apt name for this beer. When colder, there’s more of a grapefruit-like bitterness in the finish but as the beer warms, there is more of a piney, resin-like bitterness.
Duet is a highly drinkable beer – you’ll never notice the 7% ABV. It’s complex on the nose and smooth on the tongue with a pleasant bitter finish. The bottle states that Duet is “light on its feet” and I’d have to agree – Duet drinks differently compared to other west coast IPAs. On its own, the taste doesn’t live up to the complex nose but it pairs beautifully with spicy foods. I prefer the citrus/fruity side of the beer so I’d recommend drinking this one as cold as possible or with some food. Hopefully Alpine Beer Company continues to grow and gets better distribution so more people can drink their amazing IPAs.
Beer Geek Nation rating: B+
Beer Advocate: B+ / 4
Rate Beer: 4.1