Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dogfish Head Bitches Brew


Seems like everyone and their brother reviewed this beer early last fall when it hit store shelves. I was never all that interested in it, but picked up a bottle to use for a possible future trade. After trade talks failed to come to fruition, I socked it away in my basement and up until a few days ago that's where it remained. So how would this imperial stout, inspired by a 40-year-old jazz album and made with honey and gesho, hold up 9 months later?

4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (630) - Albany, USA - JUN 16, 2011
I brought my 2010 bottle up from the cellar and poured it into a tulip glass.

Appearance: The body is black as sin and forms a large, frothy/creamy dark tan head which leaves plenty of lacing and retains very well.

Smell: Rich milk chocolate and black licorice. For an unflavored imperial stout it is surprisingly sweet-smelling with little to no bitterness scents.

Taste: This is definitely not your average imperial stout, then again Dogfish Head rarely does anything by the book anyway. The label indicates it is brewed with honey and gesho, although there’s no mention of anise since black licorice is a very prevalant flavor throughout the palate. The first half is very rich and sweet with a mix of semisweet chocolate, a candy-like sweetness of black licorice, and a distinct honey component.

The second half becomes much more bitter with a slight coffee flavor and a slightly dry, almost sandy texture and sensation. The aftertaste is a mixture of all the flavor components of rich, sticky, syrupy sweetness and dry bitterness. I’m not sure if the beer is brewed with gesho instead of hops or addition to hops. Either way it is not an extremely bitter brew, but enough to help balance out the sweetness. That being said, DFH Bitches Brew is not the most delicious imperial stout, as the black licorice smell and flavor seem to grow stronger with each swing and begin to become a little cloying too.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly, only medium-thickness with a noticeable fizzy sensation on the tongue.

Drinkability: It took me quite a few servings to taste and feel the 9% ABV weight of this beer. It starts out very light on its feet drinking and tasting similar to most other stouts, but once into the second serving it starts to throw its weight around. As a single serving beer it would be great with a hearty beef meal, or as a complement to a light dessert.

Overall, this is an impressive beer to be sure, but not a perfect one. Very satisfying, but not mind-blowing.

Grade: 8/10