For their 20th anniversary, Dogfish Head has released Higher Math, a golden ale brewed with chocolate and sour cherry juice that they call “birthday cake in liquid form.” Stylistically, it is an American Strong Ale that reminds me of what an Imperial Barleywine would be, if there were such a thing. It’s truly massive at 17% ABV, with a thick, heavy, sweet body that does in fact evoke the essence of birthday cake. The head is thin and dissipates quickly. The nose is of prunes and cherries. The body is thick and syrupy, with the cherries coming on strong, and semi-sweet chocolate rising to the fore in the finish. It is indeed like cake, but just coming off a bad cold, is it also unfortunately similar to the memories of Nyquil that are so fresh in my mind. Dogfish Head is known for oft-centered ales and crazy concoctions, and heaven knows I love them for it. But, this also means that for any given palate, some are going to be hits and some misses. For me, this one is a miss.
I give it a 2.8 out of 5.
An American Pale Ale brewed with spruce lips, Pennyslvania Tuxedo is a collaboration between Dogfish Head and Woolrich. The nose is bready with plenty of pine from the spruce lips, though they’re just barely beginning to play their part. There’s some orange and caramel in the middle, but the predomint notes are piney in nature. I’m nearly certain that I can taste every part of the tree. The finish is slightly sweet with the orange coming back into play, and a bit of licorice and brown sugar. It’s a wonderful twist on a play ale, and though it’s certainly not the pine of a West Coast IPA, would probably appeal to many of the same fans. A really nice, and really fun beer.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
In my quest to try as many Dogfish Head beers as I can find, I’ve managed to get my hands on a four-pack of Olde School barleywine-style ale. Barely. One of the local bottle shops here in Charlotte posted on Twitter that they had gotten a couple of cases in that day, and when I showed up roughly two hours after the tweet was posted, they had one solitary four-pack left, so I made it mine. So what is it, exactly? It’s a barleywine-style ale, as I’ve already mentioned. Specifically, it’s a big, fruity barleywine-style ale. And I do mean big. And fruity. The fruitiness comes from the fact that it’s brewed with figs and dates, which, quite frankly, are a perfect match for a barleywine-style ale and make for a lovely winter beverage. The bigishness comes from an absolutely whopping 15% ABV, which makes this legally the most potent beer the nanny-state government of North Carolina will allow to be sold here. The nose is rich with fig and plum notes, and even the alcohol comes through, which is pretty unusual for a beer. The body is heavy weight, and the middle is syrupy and sweet with flavors of raisins and dates, and brown sugar. The finish is sweet and warming as the alcohol comes back through again. I like a good barleywine-style ale, but I generally don’t love them. This however, is an outstanding beer and can even reasonably stand in the stead of a stiffer drink on a cold winter’s night.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5
Rosabi is an Imperial Pale Ale from Dogfish Head with, as the name suggests, wasabi as the off-centered ingredient. It starts with a big sticky head that hangs around for a bit. The nose has a bit of pine, grain, and citrus, and wasabi hits your nostrils faintly right at the end as the other scents are fading. The middle is a big chewy Imperial Pale Ale, with citrus and honey, fading to pine and rind in the finish. The coup de grâce, however, right at the tail end, is strong wasabi. It’s not particularly hot, but that unmistakably pungent flavor is in full force and it strengthens as the beer warms. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is 8.0 ABV, so it lives up to the “Imperial” billing quite well. It’s a bit of a oddity, and certainly not an every day beer, but it’s worth a try, especially for those of you who love wasabi as much as I do.
I give it a 3.9 out of 5.
Lest the poor quality of my photography deceive you, let me assure you that yes, this is yet another pink (or at least pink-ish) beer. After a string of malt-forward reviews, we’re back to an IPA today. An unusual IPA, as one has grown to expect from the off-centered folks at the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. In this specific case, it’s another beer/wine hybrid, as this is Dogfish Head’s signature 60 Minute IPA but it has been brewed with the addition of Syrah grape must. The nose is piney with a bit of yeast. The middle is tart, and the grapes have a significant presence. Citrus also comes to the fore here, predominately grapefruit. The finish is more of the same. There is a bit of citrus sugar and grape sweetening it up, and some rind and pine bitterness balancing it out. For all the sweetness, the finish is also quite dry. This is a not an every day brew, but it’s definitely a fun interpretation of the IPA and well executed.
I give it a 4 out of 5.
We are coming to the last few winter seasonals for the year, and today we have Piercing Pils from Dogfish Head. Now, a Pilsner is a bit of an unusual choice for a winter seasonal, and Pilsner isn’t one of my favorite styles in any case, but I’m keeping an open mind. Dogfish Head calls this both a Perry-Pils hybrid, and a Czech-style Pilsner, and to those ends it has been brewed with pear juice, White Pear Tea, and spice Saaz hops. The result is delicious. The head is long lasting and creamy. The nose is light and smells faintly of apple, pear, and ground wheat. The middle is superbly balanced between sweet pears and bitter herbs, both of which fade into a toasty finish that also adds a bit of lemon. The body is light and crisp, and the alcohol is a moderate 6.0% ABV. This is a really fantastic beer, and I’d be happy to drink quite a lot of it. Pity it’s a seasonal.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
We have another Dogfish Head brew on offer this weekend, and this time it’s Kvasir, from their line of Ancient Ales, beer brewed with ingredients and processes that go back to the earliest days of brewing. Kvasir is a re-creation of an early Scandinavian beer-like beverage and the flavors are provided by ingredients including lingonberry, cranberry, honey, birch syrup, and herbs. This is a wheat beer, so the malt influence is mild and gives the ale a grainy backbone. You smell the berries in the nose along with a strong dose of funky Belgian-esque yeast. The cranberries really come through in the middle with some bright, tart fruit. The finish is really well balanced between some lingering sugar from the honey and syrup and bitter herbs. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol (10% ABV) is well hidden by the bold flavors here. The fruit is so forward that you almost forget you’re drinking an alcoholic beverage. The target audience for this beer is, I’d say, those who enjoy the Belgian fruit-based beers like Gueuzes, or lambics in general. This is an excellent execution on an old-world, pre-hop style beer.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.