Posts Tagged With: Dogfish Head

Super Flight to the Holidays

It’s holiday time! (Well, with good beer, when isn’t it?) Even though the weather on the East Coast has been incredibly mild, it’s time for winter warmers, holiday beers, Christmas beers. So let this be the official start for this blog!

Growler and Gill usually has some “red star” special beers that aren’t eligible for inclusion in flights. These are often ones in limited release or higher alcohol or both. Last night I saw they were offering “Super Flights” which could consist entirely of those “red star” beers. Most of the current batch were holiday offerings, and it’s definitely the time for those. Preflight, though, I had this one:

sfDarkHorse 4ElfDark Horse Brewing 4 Elf Winter Warmer Ale

Hailing from Michigan, this pours almost opaque darkest brown with a brief tan head. The delicious nose delivers spices & malt with a liqueur hint. On first gulp you get a big mouthfeel (yet still refreshing) with roastiness and dark malts plus a light sweetness. The spice comes back in on the transition to the finish with clove and nutmeg and a hint of hops. The big flavor makes this a tough act to follow. It destroyed the next beer I tasted, and I won’t name that beer–a light holiday ale–because it wasn’t a fair fight. 8.75% ABV

Now on to the Super Flight!

sfScaldis NoelScaldis Noël

Crossing the pond to Wallonia, this big beer is chestnut brown in the glass with no head at all.The aroma is of super molasses and caramel malt. The flavor is raisiny and intense with tons of malt, and the finish is long, smooth, sweet and boozy. This is really interesting–perhaps even challenging–and will stand up to anything. 12.5% ABV

sfMikkeller SLHMikkeller Santa’s Little Helper

Moving on to Denmark, I had the Grand Marnier barrel aged version of this Belgian Strong Ale a couple of weeks ago, and I have a 750ml bottle of the regular green label waiting for Christmas. This time it’s the “regular” on tap, yielding a brown glass with ruby highlights and a small off white head. The nose is restrained cara malt with a hint of smoke. The flavor continues caramel with a ton of malt. (Clearly we have a theme of Big Malt for these special holiday beers!) This has another long smooth finish with increasing caramel, but it doesn’t have the depth and balance of the Scaldis. I’m a little disappointed, but it’s hard to follow the Scaldis. 11.0% ABV

sfRidgeway VeryBadElf-cropRidgeway Very Bad Elf

Now we cross the North Sea for the British Pale Ale, hazy straw-gold with a moderate white head. Leads with a powerful nose, fruity, apple cider like with strong malts like cake and spice bread. The mouthfeel is smooth and palate coating with complex flavors including toffee and a fruit brandy flavor rather than a cidery flavor. Continues with a long liqueur finish, very smooth. 7.5% ABV

Prairie Artisan Ales Christmas Bomb!

Back across the Atlantic into the heartland of Oklahoma, Prairie takes their excellent Bomb! and readies it for the holidays. This Imperial Stout pours dark brown with a medium off tan head. The spicy toffee nose comes with strong, complex dark malts. The flavor is like biting into a great spice cookie with nutmeg & cinnamon & allspice, and yes, you can practically chew it. This flows into a very long spicy finish with crystal malt tones. Use this one with–or in place of–dessert! 11.5% ABV

2.DFH_BitchesBrew_BottleShotDogfish Head Bitches Brew

If that was dessert, then this can be the after dinner drink. Finishing this holiday trip in Delaware, this Imperial Stout is very dark brown with a big long lasting creamy tan head. Starts with a nose of chocolate and dark malt, followed by super smooth flavor continuing the chocolate and rich dark malt. The finish is lightly spicy, and since the beer coats your whole mouth, that finish goes on and on. So this isn’t a holiday beer? Give yourself a present of the Miles Davis album of the same name, and savor the beer with the jazz. 9% ABV


Now who says that flights during the holidays are a bad thing? Happy holidays!

Image courtesy of Dogfish Head
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Attack of the Pumpkins! (Part 2)

Continuing my pumpkin odyssey . . .

Pumpkin Flight

Uinta JackedUinta Crooked Line Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin (Salt Lake City, UT)

Pours dark garnet with a generous foamy orangey head. The aroma is of pumpkin rather than pumpkin pie but with a nose-tickling spiciness where the hops hold their own among the mulling spices. This may be the strongest pumpkin flavor of all, kind of a purist’s pumpkin, like a dish of squash with enough spice to accent the meatiness, and with oak coming through. Utah’s heart of oak. On the finish the hops give bracing bitterness and dry out what wasn’t very sweet to begin with. This would go great with a main course like turkey or pork or grilled tofu. 10.31% ABV and in a 750ml bottle that last 0.01% could be a killer! 39 IBU, unusually high bitterness for a pumpkin ale but it works.

Dogfish PumpkinDogfish Head Pumpkin Ale (Milton DE)

Medium amber in the glass with a bubbly vanilla cream head. The nose is biscuit malt first then melon or squash with a dash of spice. The flavor starts with liquor, a fruit brandy, and then a creaminess with a touch of spice and spicy hops. The finish carries this forward with brandy fading and hoppy malt growing. Nice mild sweetness develops as the beer warms a little. Beautifully balanced. This is not an eye opener, this is just calmly excellent. 7% ABV

Alltech Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale (Lexington KY)

Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, aged in bourbon barrels. I was a bit too busy savoring this to take proper notes. Their regular Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale has a great bourbon nose, this adds pumpkin and spices. Very satisfying. 10.0% ABV

Horseheads PumpkinHorseheads Brewing Pumpkin Ale (Horseheads NY)

This is a medium to light amber with a generous orangey head. The aroma is very pie spicy with rich malt just underneath. The flavor is restrained pumpkin pie with cinnamon and nutmeg and spice-cake malt. The finish is moderately long emphasizing malt and slightly dried out by hops. 7.0% ABV

Hoppin Frog Double PumpkinHopping Frog Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale (Akron OH)

This pours amber with a brief tan head. The aroma delivers more spice than pumpkin and unusual spicing with ginger in the mix. The flavor starts wth a toffee note, smooth, with spices coming in, especially clove. The finish is mild, mixing malt and spice. There’s not a whole lot of pumpkin in flavor or finish. It’s a nice strong Fall beer but not especially a pumpkin beer. 8.4% ABV

Saranac PumpkinSaranac Pumpkin Ale (Matt Brewing, Utica, NY)

Clear amber in the glass with a moderate off white head. Starts with a very malty nose with lightly funky melon. Spicy flavor led by cinnamon with a very light body and just a touch of fruit. The finish has a little malt but is a bit bland. 5.1% abv 15 IBU their website calls it “hearty …with full body” but I find it thin and light.

Whole Hog PumpkinWhole Hog Pumpkin Ale (Stevens Point Brewery, Stevens Point, WI)

Pours a slightly hazy chestnut with a moderate yellowish head. The aroma is of liquid pumpkin pie…the whole pie, crust and all. Flavor starts spicy instantly changing to meaty pumpkin, then the spices come right back and meet crackery malt forming a great balance. The finish leans toward darker spice like nutmeg with a shot of bittering hops leading into lingering maltiness. 7.5% ABV, 10 IBU

stPumkingSouthern Tier Pumking (Lakewood, NY)

Light copper in the glass with a brief off cream head. Starts with a big pumpkin aroma more like a pumpkin bread than pie, lots of malt. That bready malt and rich fruit flow into the flavor mixing with the spices and vanilla (almost as if aged in oak.) As it warms a tiny bit of candy-like aroma emerges but is tinged with hops. Very low bitterness but not without a touch of hop flavor too. The finish is long but restrained. Sneaky strong, it doesn’t drink like 8.6% ABV. As it says on the bottle, “This beer is brewed with pagan spirit & should be enjoyed responsibly.”

samFatJackSamuel Adams Fat Jack (Boston, MA)

Brown ale with a medium yellowish head. The nose displays caramel malt with Euro hops and subtle pumpkin or pumpkin & yam. It’s Brown Ale on the palette with toffee and a hint of smoke, sweetness but not sweet. Enough hops and enough roast to be interesting.

stWarlockSouthern Tier Warlock (Lakewood, NY)

Opaque brown in the glass with a fairly brief tan head. Rich pumpkin spice cake nose a bit sweeter aroma than Pumking. Rich and roasty on the palette with coffee notes…have some coffee with your cake. There’s a ton of malt and smooth spices, cinnamon and vanilla and nutmeg over the pumpkin body. The pumpkin isn’t the first or even second thing you notice, but it asserts itself on the finish amid waves of spice, malt, and coffee notes. 10.0% abv

Elysian PunkuccinoElysian Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale (Seattle, WA)

“”A pumpkin ale with the attitude of a world-weary barista.” Very dark brown with light barely coming through it. And a generous relatively persistent tan head. Aroma of coffee the instant the cap comes off. Rich coffee aroma with spice and pumpkin. Flavor of good very smooth coffee without bitterness. Very similar to Warlock with more coffee and slightly less body. In both cases the pumpin is tertiary to the malt or coffee and spices. In both cases these are fabulous beers. Out if season I may be dismissive of pumpkins. Mea culpa. 6.0% ABV

I was dismissive of pumpkin ales out of season, and even felt dismissive of their worth even in season. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! I’ve really enjoyed my journey through the pumpkin patch, and I look forward to coming back next year!

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Gone to the Dog(fish) Again

Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales

Here’s a tasting coming from Milton, DE to Nanuet, NY at Growler & Gill. I followed that up with three more, okay, four . . . okay, five, suffering nobly you may be sure!


Straw colored with a generous foamy white head. The aroma is yeasty spicy with banana and stone fruit esters over cracker malt. Flavor starts with spices esp black pepper and coriander, the malt comes in, then the lemongrass comes in so that it’s like drinking Thai food…which would be a terrific pairing. Puckers me up a little like pineapple or tannins. That yeast and spice carries straight through tying everything together in a long finish with hops drying things out. 4.8% ABV, 20 IBU.

1-2.DFH_FestinaPeche_BottleShot_240x720_72_RGBFestina Peche

Hazy straw in color, quite effervescent but no head so it’s like ginger ale in that respect. The nose is mostly mildly malty with the faintest hint of stone fruit but not noticeable peach. On the palette it’s mildly tart with no sourness. The bready malt reminds me of a Kolsch gone hazy. With a big gulp swirled around the mouth I could convince myself that maybe there’s some peach in it, but I wouldn’t notice it if I wasn’t expecting it. Of five people trying this on draft, I was the only one to claim to detect even a hint of peach. I thought it might be the keg so I picked up a bottle. Same thing, no peach. The finish gets a little more tart and it’s rather refreshing … but not peach. Last year’s recipe had more peach and I think was more tart too. Maybe last year’s drug-crazed raccoons left more peach behind than this year’s circus-garbed bears. 4.5% ABV

1-Dogfish MidasMidas Touch

Pours amber with a moderate white head. It has an aroma of cracker malt and white grapes with a sweet note. The flavor starts with grape and flows to pervasive malt. The sweetness resolves to honey with a subtle spice note, and that spice builds from sip to sip. I found it mead-like with a good blend of malt, wine and honey. The finish persists sweet and fine, gently emphasizing the grape. To my surprise, some found this bitter, but others who “don’t like beer” liked this very much. 9% ABV, 12 IBU

1-Dogfish SixtyOneSixty-One

Copper in the glass with a persistent medium snow white head. As the cap comes off, you’re hit with an aroma of red wine grapes plus hops. The first close sniff gives citrusy hops and the next brings back the grapes. As the head dissipates crystal and caramel malt emerge. There’s a fruity quality to the flavor and even a mouthfeel like a crisp cider, but the taste reflects the rich hops and the Syrah. The finish has a hint of grape juice on a malt bed with soft bittering hops. Quite refreshing. 6.5% ABV, 60 IBU

1-2.DFH_90Minute_BottleShot_240x720_72_RGB90-Minute IPA

Pours a beautiful amber with a medium off white head. Massive malt aroma leads with medium hops. There are more hops than malt in the flavor, but adding nice caramel. The finish has a lot of hops but very much in balance, enough that some who normally can’t stand IPA enjoy this, even to ranking this #2 of these five, and “one of the two I like” (along with Midas Touch). Personally, I like four of these five. 9% ABV, 90 IBU

Images courtesy of Dogfish Head


This is an IPA brewed with apricot juice. The color is copper or apricot with a fluffy generous head, off-white with hint of orange. The nose is of malt and spicy hops with just a hint of stone fruit, not clearly apricot. The flavor definitely starts with apricot, quite tart, and a bready malt with hint of caramel. The hops come in on the finish, more earth and spice than citrus. Balanced and subtle. 7% ABV, 50 IBU.

1-Dogfish SaisonDuBuffSaison du Buff

A collaboration born of a trio of breweries, Stone and Victory and Dogfish, kind of a Murderers Row of great breweries! This pours pale to straw in color with a big foamy white head. The aroma starts with herbs and spices, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme plus spicy hops with a big shot of yeast and fruity esters. The herbs lead the flavor with lots of malt underneath. There’s melon and orange peel going on too. The finish is long and spicy ramping herbs and melon slowly down into a little pool of spicy hops. One of the most interesting beers, but what else can one expect from Sam+Greg+Bill? All three breweries put it out in 2010, the same recipe in each brewery, and the current releases are from Dogfish in 2014, Victory in 2015, and Stone in 2016. If this bottle was a year old, it has aged nicely! 6.8% ABV.

1-Dogfish BnBBlack & Blue

Give a copper glassful with a medium fine grained white head. The aroma seems classic Belgian yeasty and estery over rich malt, but with an unusual berry note. The flavor also starts classic Belgian but then the berries explode across the palette and persist into a smooth malty finish. This is not a berry ale but rather a Belgian ale with berries, and an excellent one, also another one to seduce some wine drinkers. Very sneaky: 10% ABV and doesn’t remotely seem like it! 25 IBU

Hmm…now what’s this here?

Raison D’Extra

A Belgian Strong Ale, this is an extreme beer that doesn’t really taste extreme . . . which means that the ABV of 18% could be quite a surprise. This pours amber-brown with brief head, then gives a very full raisin and malt nose. The flavor comes in with caramel and raisin toast and layers of malt. It has a wine-like finish, raisiny like Amarone. The 40 IBU are largely masked by the malt, brown sugar, and raisins.

All right,can’t stop, let’s relax by the pool with one more 90 Minute IPA.

1-Dogfish 90

No, this wasn’t all in one session!

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Gone to the Dog(fish)

Off to the Growler & Gill for a tasting from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.  The presenter–whose name I should have gotten–mentioned that his choices were designed to feature summery brews, most appropriate for this time of year.
The first was Namaste, a white beer that leads with light flavorful lemongrass and coriander and then the fruit arrives, full-bodied orange. There’s a hint of black pepper on the end, a nice spiciness.  There’s a little bit of pucker, not so much like sour as like the tannin of a red wine.   This has more oomph than most 5% ABV (4.8 to be more precise), so it would make a fine session brew. [I must say that this doesn’t seem to be what the instructor had in mind when saying “Namaste” in yoga class. One small step on the road to Nirvana?]




Moving into the “tormented small animals” portion of the evening (to judge by the labels), the next brew was Festina Peche, described as a Berliner Weisse (or “neo-Berliner Weisse”).  The classic Berliner Weisse is quite sour, and I’m not sure I would like it, not having acquired a taste for sour ale.  THIS beer leads with peach then settles into malt, with just a tiny touch of hops on the end. I find this very refreshing and not at all sweet, but also not at all sour. I definitely want to try more of this.  At only 4.5% ABV, it’s another good session choice.



aprihop_25Next was Aprihop, which I have had before, but this has more hops than the last time I tasted it, so I think the recipe has evolved. It’s described as “massively hopped” but I don’t find it so, the fruit brings it into balance.  This gives a subtle apricot like an anti-lambic, maintaining dry body rather than sliding into too much sweetness. Easy drinking and 7%.





Positive Contact is dangerous stuff, easy to sip away and it doesn’t taste like 9% ABV.  This is like a summer spiced cider, rather than the autumnal harvest ciders.  Drinking more of this, it’s a great Belgian-style summer brew.  If you drink it too cold you don’t get the cider, but it emerges as the beer approaches a better temperature, then the spice arrives, with just a bit of hops on the end.  Let it warm further, and hints of the cayenne arrive. I don’t quite pick up the cilantro, but that must flow into the complexity.  It’s a collaboration of Dogfish Head and Dan the Automator . . . and I leave Deltron 3030 as an exercise for the student.





r_and_w_03Moving up the alcohol ladder, we reach Red & White at 10% ABV.  As a style it’s a witbier, starting Belgian and becoming unique with Pinot Noir juice and a touch of oak.  This is rich and very dark for a “white” beer.  It’s interesting that it’s so rich, because my usual complaint about pinot noir is that it’s too light and lacks body. This takes care of *that* problem.






Palo Santo Marron has a unique woody flavor from the aging. It’s a brown ale that is very Stout-like, but a dry stout rather than a creamy stout. Lots of roasted malt. The beer is aged in “exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood,” described as one of the hardest woods in the world and crafted into 10,000-gallon vessels.  The tasting was of bottles that had then aged for a year at home, an aging that you can’t get at retail, and this yielded even greater complexity.  Sipping a “new” bottle at home, the nose arrives with a funky, woody, good aroma, then the first sip spreads chocolate, then the woody notes and a certain dry dustiness arrive. The finish is like the scent of dry hardwood with chocolate and coffee notes.  Rich stuff, you can practically chew it, and the 12% ABV could be quite a surprise.




That’s something consistent across the whole tasting: all of them have more alcohol than is apparent. All of them have great balance, so you get lemongrass and apricot and cider and red wine, but you always get an ale and a very satisfying one.

This was a nice set of choices in fine sequence, one building on another, and these were interesting choices to act as a wakeup call for those who define Dogfish in terms of 60-Minute, 75-Minute, 90-Minute, and 120-Minute IPAs.  Mind you, as I started writing this I was sipping a 60-Minute IPA, and the caramel and butterscotch of that brew leads into a nice citrusy body before the strong hop finish.  But now I’m savoring a Palo Santo Marron, and that’s a great way to wrap up an evening!

Images courtesy of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
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