Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dogfish Head Hellhound on my Ale

Anyone who has even a working knowledge of Dogfish Head knows they tend to brew a lot of limited releases and special beers. The problem is they brew perhaps TOO MANY "special releases" as I go into them with high expectations and then often find the beers to be good to excellent, but over-priced. "Hellhound on my Ale" is a perfect example as it’s a very good double IPA in the west coast style, but doesn’t really offer anything new or unique to make it especially memorable. Probably one of the only beers you can honestly criticize for being "only very good."

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (787) - Albany, New York, USA - JAN 12, 2013
I received a 750ml bottle from my sister for Christmas (thanks, Jena!). I poured it into the official Dogfish Head shaker-style glass.

Appearance: Dark amber to orange proper hue; cloudy but still transparent. Forms a large, ivory-colored, frothy head which retains and laces with excellence.

Smell: Strong floral and citrus aromas with a subtle lemony tartness/sweetness.

Taste: If the average craft beer enthusiast were to drink Hellhound on my Ale in a blind taste test I’d bet they’d mistake it for one of the more prominent West Coast double IPAs like Ruination or Sculpin. And as a recovering hophead myself that’s perfectly fine with me. I really enjoy the citrusy flavor and intense bitterness. There seems to be a bit more malty component to this beer than most of the style, and the addition of using dried lemonpeel and flesh in the brew (according to the description) adds a bit of subtle fruity/candy flavoring.

I’m a bit confused as to the actual bitterness, though. The description says it "hits 100 IBUs in the brewhouse" but is listed as only 58 IBUS. Why the disparity? Personally, I’d peg it in the 70s or 80s as it definitely has a consistent bitterness throughout that’s much more on the dry side instead of the thick, sweet nectary side. The lemon character fades rather quickly, but the Centennial hops do not. If this were available in 12oz bottles in six-packs it’d be a viable option over Ruination. But as a special release beer it doesn’t seem all that special.

Drinkability: I suppose the real reason Hellhound on my Ale is a special release in 750ml bottles is due to the fact it’s a hefty beer. Though it’s remarkably drinkable with a crisp body and relatively clean aftertaste (albeit slightly dry and pasty), you would never know it’s 10% ABV as it just doesn’t have the raw chutzpah or weight of something that big. There is no alcohol presence in the nose, palate or body, which makes killing an entire 750ml like I did, an easy task.
 Grade: 9/10

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