Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout


3.5
   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (599) - Albany, USA - MAR 11, 2010
I’m not usually a fan of bigger-than-normal beers, but when it comes to "extreme" beers I tend to be more understanding. I think anyone can brew a bigger beer, but a beer as extreme as Dogfish Head World Wide Stout takes a lot of talent and craftsmanship to pull off. Even though this is an 18% ABV beer, it’s not arbitrarily obese. It borders on a hybrid between beer and spirit and it’s got the flavor to make it genuinely appealing. That’s quite an accomplishment I’d say.

APPEARANCE AND AROMA

I split a 12oz bottle with a friend and poured my half into a tulip glass. This beer pours to an opaque black body and only generates a thin layer of tan head. It dissipates rather quickly and leaves no lacing on the glass.

For such a strong beer I was genuinely surprised that alcohol was not the first thing I noticed in the nose. In fact, it’s rather sweet with black licorice, dark chocolate and roasted malts comprising the majority of the aroma. A dry alcoholic scent is definitely noticeable, but is not to the point of being even remotely off-putting. This an extreme beer that doesn’t intimidate and is, in fact, rather inviting.

TASTE

Describing the flavor of a beer as intense as World Wide Stout is quite a challenge. Beers as extreme as this don’t quite drink the same as more pedestrian brews. Sure, there’s genuine flavor to appreciate here, but the intensity gives the beer something of a surrealistic effect.

The best way to describe the flavor would be liquid black licorice plus dark bitter chocolate followed by finely roasted malts. These flavors all add up to form a rich, sweet, almost sugary palette. It’s thick, heavy and sticky in the mouth not unlike a syrup. What’s interesting is the fact the beer still has a distinct bitter side to balance out these flavors. Rating at 70 on the IBU scale I’d say this is enough to give the beer balance but not enough to make it overly bitter.

Not surprisingly the alcohol also plays a prominent role in the taste. It’s quite warm in the mouth and equally warm as it finishes. There’s a bit of a dry, rubbing alcohol-like aftertaste, but it does not linger for very long. It also blends well with the flavors as the beer warms to eventually create for a rich port-like composition. This is impressive and quite tasty, that is, if you have a preference for spirits and liqueurs. Even though I’m not a fan of those types of drinks, I can still appreciate the complexity and taste of World Wide Stout.

DRINKABILITY

It would seem to be a criticism to talk about the low drinkability of this beer and others like it. While it’s true that this beer is literally difficult to drink in anything other than quick sips, the fact remains it’s surprisingly smooth in the mouth and down the throat. The alcohol is very well masked for 18% ABV and synergizes well with the organic flavors contained within.

World Wide Stout isn’t the kind of beer you can or would want to drink even remotely quickly. For the sake of my video review my friend and I drank our halves relatively quickly and I could feel the alcohol throughout my body within 10 minutes. Probably the best way to drink this beer would be to take the bottle out of the fridge, pour it, and sip and savor it over the course of at least one hour, if not two.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I think there’s a time and place for extreme beers in ever craft beer lover’s repertoire, usually reserved for special occasions and Dogfish Head World Wide Stout is definitely one of those beers. At $10 for a 12oa bottle your wallet would likely agree with that notion, but if drank under the proper conditions your palette will really be able to appreciate just how accessible a beer this extreme can be.

Grade: 8/10