Eagle Claw Fist is too bitter. I just grabbed a bottle off the shelf figuring I ought to give an imperial amber ale. Sounded sort of like a barley wine to me. It wasn’t until I got home that I found out it was nearly a year old, bottled in June of twenty twelve.
You can’t age this stuff. It’s just completely and utterly bitter. Leave a burger on the grill for an hour and then add pepper spray. Bitter, bitter, bitter — no real hop flavors to pull out of the murk.
A few years ago the mere difficulty of this beer, the extremeness of flavor, would have impressed me. But these days I am more into actual taste than bigness and intensity.
Oak Aged IPA
Burton Baton is Dogfish Head’s approximation of traditional English IPA. Back in the day aged beer was blended with fresh beer to make a balanced, delicious beer.
Burton Baton is not actually balanced though. It’s very hop heavy — Citrus, pine and earth and dirt. It’s actually quite oniony. Sarah says it smells like summer pubs and drinking on the porch. The oak of Burton Baton is subtle, adding little but a dry finish and a bit of woodsy flavor. I prefer Rumble.
The Imperial IPA
If 60 Minute is an IPA, 90 Minute is an imperial or double IPA, 120 Minute must be a triple IPA? A double imperial IPA? I’ll let others fight about that. I’ll just say: it’s freaking delicious.
I mean, it starts out all normal. It’s all fruity and malty. But then it transforms and then it transforms again. There is just so much stuff going on. The hops come out so strong every sip has a different, new note. Pineapple, then pine, then fresh squeezed orange juice, then more pine, then sweet caramel, then all of that in a blender, it just keeps going.
Oh, and 120 Minute is about 18% alcohol, but you’ll never notice it, so beware.
90 Minutes Later
Dogfish Head isn’t your dad’s microbrewery. They brew some very weird beer. A recipe based on an ancient jug of wine? Sure. Beers brewed with wild Egyptian yeast strains? Why not. Even their IPAs venture into the strange and delicious. 75 Minute is brewed with maple syrup. 61 Minute adds more grape must. Then there is the plain 60 Minute and the bigger 90 Minute.
Brewed with tons of hops in a 90 minute continuous boil and dry hopped in every stage of fermentation, this is a big beer. It’s big on the hops, but they aren’t the usual grapefruit and pine varieties I’m used to seeing. Don’t get me wrong, there is some citrusy orange peel, there is some pine, but the main flavors I get are deep and earthy. The malt is more assertive as well, toffee and caramel jump out at me. 90 Minute might be closer to a strong ale, edging on barleywine.
This isn’t a common double IPA, so it might put off some. That’s sort of the point at Dogfish Head.
Hair of the Dog still has the best bottle designs, in case you were wondering. Blue Dot is an imperial strength India pale ale dedicated to the earth, the only blue planet in the visible universe. Hair of the Dog brews up batches of Blue Dot on a rotating seasonal schedule. I picked up the freshest, Spring 2012, bottle.
This is a very fruity beer. Oranges, fresh squeezed and juicy, on the nose and tongue. Like Sunny Delight. Like Tropicana. These oranges are fresh and sweet. So fresh, you can smell the orchard. The orange melts into grapefruit and pine. The malts add a hint of subtle sweetness. Not quite caramel, it’s like a brioche bun or frosted flake. The finish is semi dry with a nice astringency. Blue Dot is a very balanced IPA, not too sweet and not too bitter.
This is what the Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA from Alemeda Brewing Co. looks like. This was the last bottle on the shelf at the grocery store. It’s not dated, so I’ll assume it’s pretty old which explains the lack of hop aroma and heavier malt flavor. I guess I should avoid IPAs that have been sitting on the shelf for a while. This beer is straight up caramel sauce with a bitter apple aftertaste.
Red Chair NWPA from Deschutes is full of tangerine citrus, sweet malt, nice little bitterness.
This Imperial Red Ale is surprisingly hoppy for a red, but that’s Lagunitas’ deal. Citrus hops followed by some malt and a bitter burn.
I had the pleasure of trying three different experimental beers at Deschutes tonight. Hop-u-py Portland NWPA is Lemony but not too bitter. Leap Year NWPA tastes like grapefruit hops. I could smell it coming. The aftertaste is very piney. Hop City 2 is an imperial India pale ale, like Hop Henge. Unlike Hop Henge, the hops in Hop City are a bit flat. I smell the grapefruit, but I don’t taste it. Of the three, Leap Year was the most delicious. I wish it came in bottles.
Ten Fidy is the blackest beer I’ve had in months. It’s thick and viscous. It’s like a chocolate milkshake. It’s a dark chocolate mocha milkshake with a little cherry thrown in, and a caramel scent with a boozy sting. As much as I like chocolate, I like vanilla too. This Ten Fidy has a hint of vanilla when it’s warmer, but just a hint. I could stand more vanilla.
Also, the booze. Is booze heavier than beer? Because down here at the bottom of the glass there is a lot of boozy heat.
Fort George’s Cavatica Stout perfectly fills my old Lyle pint glass perfectly. It’s super dark and creamy. You can taste the usual chocolate, but there is a bit of hop flavour in there to like a hint of orange peel. Oh and the alcohol.