Dogfish Head – Bitches Brew & Pearl Jam 20

Tasting: February 17 & 18, 2012
Style: Bitches Brew: Stout
Pearl Jam 20: Belgian

Bitches Brew and Pearl Jam 20

Recently there was a thread on a beer website that asked readers to chime in on the most overrated brewery. I guess Dogfish Head was mentioned enough to elicit a response from Sam Calagione, the owner of Dogfish Head. He took exception to all the negativity and fired back with his own criticism of beer geeks in the very same thread:

“It’s interesting how many posts that refer to Dogfish being over-rated include a caveat like “except for Palo…except for Immort…etc.” We all have different palettes which is why it’s a great thing that there are so many different beers. At Dogfish we’ve been focused on making “weird” beers since we opened and have taken our lumps for being stylistically indifferent since day one. I bet a lot of folks agree that beers like (ours) don’t seem very weird anymore. That’s in large part because so many people who have been part of this community over the years championed them and helped us put them on the map…We could have taken the easy way out and just sold the bejeezus out of 60 Minute to grow but we like to experiment and create and follow our own muse.”

In my opinion – every brewery has hits and misses. But as I have said – I don’t hold a bad experience against the brewer – it just wasn’t my taste. To me, DFH has had more misses than hits – but here I am again plunking down another $15/bomber for these two DFH beers. They are both from their three-part Sony legacy brews series. Read my review of the other Legacy Series offering — Hellhound on my Ale HERE . Hellhound is a tribute to Blue’s legend Robert Johnson on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Bitches Brew (9% ABV): A tribute to the fortieth anniversary of Miles Davis’ fusion album of the same title. It’s described as a bold, dark beer that’s a fusion of three threads of imperial stout and one thread of honey beer with gesho root. If you happened to catch any of the Discovery Channel series called “Brewmasters” — the creation of this beer was featured in episode 1. Nice presentation on the pour. Honey beer is a mead and Gesho is an herb that provides bitterness (much like a hop). Smells of a nice roasted stout and licorice. First sip is fizzy, some moderate roasted grains over that licorice flavor. Thin to medium-body and it kind of falls flat on the finish — nothing lingers — just a wisp of smoke and roasted bitterness. Not as much complexity as I expected. I’m glad I tried it – but still have to put it at 81 points.

Pearl Jam Faithfull Ale (7% ABV): This one is the celebration of Pearl Jam’s 20th Anniversary and their release of their album – Ten. As they did with Hellhound there is a number connection — 20 IBU and 10 additions of black currants. It pours a bright orangey/yellow. This is a Belgian-style ale — definite yeasty influence of apples and pears up front. The influence of the currants lends a tartness. I wouldn’t call this one all that remarkable – thin, musty and a little too subtle. Other than they make jam out of currants – I don’t get the Pearl Jam connection. If it were me – I might think of their Seattle grunge roots and make something with coffee – something that has an even flow, is black and alive. It is interesting but certainly not something I would seek out in the future – especially for the price – 78 points.

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