Flesh & Blood IPA is a heavily citrus focused IPA brewed with orange peel, lemon flesh, and the juice of blood oranges. If you’re a fan of citrus beers, this is probably their king. Big orange notes in the nose, bitter and sour orange and lemon in the middle, and the sweet, sugary orange juice coming forward in the finish. It’s unique, as all of Dogfish Head Ales are, and delicious. The body is medium, and the alcohol is a reasonable 7.5% ABV.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
We’ve had a bit of a cold snap here, with lows dipping into the high 20s for the first time this fall. That makes for a lovely excuse to break out a bottle of Xocoveza, a winter-spiced mocha stout from Stone. Being based in San Diego, I’m not sure what Stone actually knows about winter, but they sure do know their way around a winter brew. This particularly recipe includes cocoa, coffee, peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix all that up in a beer, and what comes out is liquid deliciousness. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa are strongly present in the nose. The head is creamy and hangs around for quite awhile. The middle is pure mocha, milky with notes of chocolate and coffee throughout. The peppers are very understated and there is just a tiny hint of a spicy bit in the finish, muted by vanilla. The body is medium and the alcohol is a relatively strong 8.1% ABV. A fabulously flavorful and wonderfully executed beer that might be my new point of reference for a winter stout.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
So it’s November, and Bière de Provence is a summer saison. Sue me. I try every Dogfish Head beer I can find, and this is when I happened to find this one, and I won’t pass up the opportunity to try it, whatever the season. This is a Belgian Saison, and the tagline is that it is brewed with lavender, marjoram, and bay leaves. The lavender is immediately apparent in the nose, which is predominately floral with a bit of fruity Belgian yeast adding some banana esters. The middle explodes with pepper, herbal notes and sweet malty undertones. The finish is yeasty, fruity and mellow. The body is medium and the for a summer saison the alcohol is a beastly 8.3% ABV, A delicious beer and a fine saison that I wish I’d discovered earlier.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
The Boston Beer Company has been expanding its Rebel IPA line of hoppy west coast style IPAs, and the latest addition is this grapefruit infused version. While I love the concept, this one doesn’t quite hit home for me. There’s definitely grapefruit in the form of citrus oils in the nose. The middle is more grapefruit rind giving it a characteristic bitterness. Hops come to the fore in the finish, floral and piney. All the right ingredients are here for a a smash hit, but to me, it turned out a bit one-dimensional, and weakly, not authoritatively so. The grapefruit was mainly there to add bitterness, which it does well, but there’s so much more to extracted if one were to reach a bit deeper. The body is medium, and the alcohol is an agreeable 6.3% ABV. I really like the original Rebel IPA, and the concept here is great, but in execution, it could have been so much more than it is.
I give it a 3.2 out of 5.
Brewery Ommegang is a fantastic craft beer producer out of Cooperstown, NY, which, of course, is also known for being the home of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. I usually associate Ommegang with their myriad wonderful Belgian styles, but this beer is a straight-up Imperial IPA. The nose is doughy, with loads of orange and lemon. The middle is predominantly bitter with orange peel and pine resin with sweet and sour citrus coming back in the finish to balance out the bitterness a bit. The body is heavy, and the alcohol is an imperial but not unreasonable 8.8% ABV. The is an excellent exection of the style, and in my opinion will appeal most to those who tend towards the west-coast style IPAs with their overstated bitterness. An outstanding beer.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
Otra Vez is a Gose-style ale brewed with cactus and grapefruit. I pity I found it late in the year, as this is the sort of beer I love in the heat of summer. Light, fairly heavily carbonated, and refreshing are the properties that come to mind. The nose is minimal and slightly sour. The middle is sharply tart and carbonated. The grapefruit comes strongly to the fore in the finish, along with undertones from the cactus. It’s not particularly complex, just a simple beer with a couple of notes at a time, but that shouldn’t be held against it, because what is here is lovely. The body is light to medium and the alcohol is an equally light 4.5% ABV. A fine treat, particularly for summer.
I give it a 4.1 out of 5.
Fresh, delicious liquid pumpkin pie in a can. What better way to start November? Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing Company is the company behind this seasonal pumpkin ale, called Gordgeous. The nose is sweet and bready, the middle bursting with pumpkin, brown sugar and fall spices. In the finish, the spiciness fades and the brown sugar comes back into the fore. The body is medium and the alcohol is a pleasant 6.4% ABV. This is a really nice pumpkin ale on the pie end of the spectrum, if that’s what your taste tends to, and I really love it.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
The Oracle is a big American Double India Pale Ale from Bell’s Brewery of Comstock, Michigan. The nose has lemon and caramel. The middle is loaded with caramel, orange, lemon, and a bit of pine. The pine starts to come forward and assert itself in the finish, but the citrus remains. This is a fairly simple, iconic DIPA. All of what one might expect, and not a lot else. It’s tasty and well executed, and a great example of the style. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol is a stout 10% ABV.
I give this a 4.5 out of 5.
This is a bit of a special review for me. Specifically, it’s the 400th beer review I’ve done for OpenCraftBeer.com over the last 7 or so years. I had a couple of goals when I started reviewing beers for the site. The first was simply that I wanted something that would motivate me to continually keep looking for new beers to try and enjoy, expanding my horizons and my taste buds instead of lazily falling back on the same few known quantities. Inside of the broader goal, I also had a more specific goal, which was to try to review as many beers as I could get my hands on from one of my favorite breweries, Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. To that end, it’s a fitting bit of fate that my 400th review also happens to be my 40th Dogfish Head beer review.
Ok, time for the review. SeaQuench Ale is a session sour from Dogfish Head, designed to be tart and brewed with lime peel, black limes and sea salt. Sours ale are particularly strongly flavored style, and an issue I often have have which session-weight beers is that they have a tendency to end up as a weak imitation of the style. This is not the case with this beer, as the flavor is full and bright. You can smell the citrus and the salt on the nose, and the middle is bursting with lime, and plenty of that beautiful Belgian sour bite. There’s a good bit of carbonation, but not too much, and as you fade to the finish, the saltiness comes back into the fore. The body is light to medium, and the alcohol is a pleasantly light 4.9% ABV. The final word on this one is that it’s a tasty, well-executed beer that I would happily drink year round.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
Brewed with a 25% malted rye based, Columbus hops for citrusy notes, and Belgian yeast, Riverbank Rye-It from the Deep River Brewing Company promised to be interesting. The nose is very muted, with a tiny hint of fruit that I’d attribute to the yeast, and some light citrus. In the middle, the rye comes forward but the strongest flavor is grapefruit, and a bit of caramel. Not much changes for the finish, as the same notes hang around until the end. It’s nice, but uninspiring. The body is medium and the alcohol is a moderate 5.2% ABV.
I give it a 3.3 out of 5.