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.
Tonight I’m trying another of this year’s winter seasonals from the Boston Beer Company, and it’s like their Chocolate Bock, only this year it has been infused with cherry. Now, this isn’t the first bottle I’ve had. I picked up their winter variety pack which came with three of these babies, and I have to say this is the first time I’ve been dreading a review because of the fact that I would rather throw the beer away than drink it. I’ve reviewed the chocolate bock before, and to be frank, it wasn’t very good. For this beer, they’ve apparently added large quantities of cherry cough syrup to it in order to turn it into something truly awful. It pours a nice dark brown with a reasonably pleasant head that reminds one of root beer float. The nose is of cough syrup. The body is thin and watery. The middle is an unsubstantial chocolate that reminds one of a chocolate-flavored sucker, drowned liberally in, again, cherry cough syrup, which is quite overwhelming. The finish is cherry and a bit metallic. The alcohol level is quite moderate at 5.8% ABV. There are no discernible hop flavors at all. Regardless of your taste, I can unequivocally recommend that you give this beer a pass. Personally, if it came down to a choice between this and Bud Light, I’d take the Bud every time.
I give it a 1.4 out of 5.
Positive Contact is another of Dogfish Head’s occasional musically inspired collaborations, this one with Dan the Automator of Deltron 3030. It’s a hybrid wheat ale and cider with spices that aren’t typical with either, such as cayenne pepper and fresh cilantro. With that variety of inputs, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but the result is excellent. All the components show well, and none are overpowering. The nose is distinctly Belgian yeast, with some apple notes in there. The middle is bready with quite pronounced wheat characteristics that are balanced by strong apple flavors that are moderately, but not excessively sweet, and also not quite as complex as they might be. The wheat comes back powerfully to give it a drying finish, and this is where the spices start to come though as well, adding peppery and herbal notes before fading back to apple. This reminds me most of a pre-hop spice beer, and is refreshingly unusual. It’s a medium bodied beer, and pretty big on the alcohol at 9.0% ABV, but you’d never know it because it hides it well. My bottom line is that this is an excellent off-centered ale.
I give it 4.5 out of 5.
Merry Christmas Eve! Today is a day of anticipation for the celebration to come, and for the special occasion, a special beer. Lindemans is known for their fine lambics (several of which I’ve reviewed on this blog) but Gueuze Curvée René is a particularly unusual and amazing beer. It’s a lambic, but a mixture of two-thirds young lambic, and one-third old lambic, which is then bottle conditioned for six months. The result is one of a kind. The capped and corked bottle pops as if it were champagne. The nose is sour wild Belgian yeast. The body is medium, and the flavor from middle to finish is tart and dry, with the tartness followed by notes of apricot and grapes, with very little discernible residual sugar. This is closer to dry sparkling wine than to the typical beer. My bottom line: This is a beer to celebrate with.
I give it a 4.9 out of 5.
I love fall and winter, and I love fall and winter beers. In this case, New Belgian’s fall seasonal pumpkin ale, Pumpkick. The nose is spicy with a bit of Belgian yeasty fruitiness. The middle is spicy pumpkin reminiscent of pie, and slightly sweet. The finish is tart, showcasing the cranberries this beer is brewed with, and a bit of citrus from lemongrass. None of the flavors are overpowering, and this medium-bodied ale has a very manageable alcohol level of 6% ABV. making it an excellent party or session beer. My bottom line is that this is a very nice, but not outstanding beer.
I give it a 3.9 out of 5.