Tasting: September 8, 2011
Style: Imperial Stout
When talking about brewers that have pushed the boundaries of beer – Dogfish Head has to enter the conversation. But to me, I’d say their reputation lies with unusual brewing ingredients. However, this imperial stout pushes the envelope in another way — ABV% (alcohol by volume). This monster checks in at a whopping 18% ABV — yes that’s right — 18%. To put it in perspective, red wines will check in between 13.5% – 14%. But wines with high ABV (16% +) are extremely fragile wines. It seems when you hit a certain point “the fruit” can drop out and the alcohol becomes the main character. I’ve seen it happen with some beer as well. As brewers keep pumping up the ABV in ten years we may very well have a new class of liquor – kind of a beer cordial.
Another new trend in craft beers — skyrocketing prices. This particular stout sells at my beer store for $28/for a four pack — I bought a single twelve ounce bottle for $8. I was reading about Stone’s new quingenti millilitre (500 ml) series and that selling for $25/bottle. Of course, it’s hard to ask for more flavorful beer, which may mean more ingredients and higher costs.
I let this one stand on my counter top for about 45 minutes — it only has a slight chill by now. This one pours a rich brown — no head at all. Massive alcohol on the nose. Smells like a snort of vanilla extract. First sip and the booze and subsequent heat hits hard — the coffee and dark chocolate flavor are neatly tucked underneath. It’ definitely thick and sticky – it clings to the inside of my cognac glass. Some dark fruit creeps in about a third of the way through this bottle. This is a true “sipper”. I give Dogfish Head high marks for creativity — but I’m not really impressed by the massive booziness. It’s a bit over the top. I’ll give it 80 points.