I’ve long been a fan of Dogfish Head’s Saison-ish Noble Rot. Take it and age it in oak? I’m definitely down. It’s based on the saison farmhouse style, and then infused with grape must before finally being aged in oak for nearly a year. I originally compared Noble Rot to white wine, but once you age it in oak, it’s an order of magnitude closer. The nose is grape and a bit of yeast, the middle has grass and vanilla and is slightly tart, the finish is woody with vanilla and butter. The body is medium, the alcohol is big for a saison, little for a white wine at 9.0% ABV.
I give it a 4.3 out of 5.
Breakfast is the best meal of the day. All of the most delicious foods are served for breakfast, so why not make a beer with them? What could go wrong? In this case, nothing. Dogfish Head’s Beer for Breakfast Stout is not only filled with the flavors of breakfast, and the result is delicious. Coffee, toast, and milk are all in the nose. The middle is rich with cocoa and a dense breadiness that reminds one of pancakes. Speaking of pancakes, the finish is dripping with maple syrup sweetness and a bit of the coffee comes back right at the end, as it should. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol is a bit hefty for early in the morning at 7.4% ABV. Dogfish Head has an entire stable of very good beers, but in my opinion, this is one of their best.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
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.
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.
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.
Beer To Drink Music To is a Belgian style Tripel from our good friends at Dogfish Head in Delaware. Dogfish Head is known for their off-centered ales, but there really isn’t a lot weird about this beer…It’s a fairly straight-forward, really nice Belgian Tripel. The nose is yeasty and fruity, with banana and fig notes, the middle is fruity and spicy with some pepper and apricot, and there’s vanilla in the finish. This all makes for a really nice, solid example of the style. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a stout 9% ABV.
I give it a 4.2 out of 5.
I’ve finally gotten my hands on a 120 Minute IPA. It’s immediately apparent that it’s big, with nose full of honey and molasses and lemon. The body is heavy, with a strong alcohol presence and the middle is punchy with the huge quantities of hops and malt required for this brew. There’s more honey, as well pear, apricot, pine and pepper making an appearance here. The finish is sticky and sweet, with orange and honey predominant. This is an interesting beer with an interesting niche. It’s not what you would expect of a typical Imperial IPA, more like a barleywine or Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but far hoppier than either of those styles. It may actually be a beer that appeals to whisky or fortified wine fans more than a fan of typical beer styles. It’s certainly got enough alcohol for that, at ~20% ABV. (Variable for each batch.) I’m very impressed with the construction. This is really a special beer.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
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