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Beer Review #203 Noble Rot

Living in Delaware I tend to drink a lot of Dogfish Head. It’s my stately duty to do so, or so I tell myself. DFH is really getting into the collaboration aspect of beer making and Noble Rot is an excellent example of this. This beer is a partnership with a wine maker. According to the bottle Noble Rots is an “ale brewed with grape must and with grape must added.” Grape must is essential grape juice from freshly crushed grapes. It can, but doesn’t have to include the actual skins of the grape. In the beer world, we would consider this wort since it is unfermented. One other fun note with this beer, the name Noble Rot comes from a term in wine making for a fungus that affects wine grapes. Noble Rot comes in at 9% ABV and I read somewhere that it is DFH’s first attempt at a sour beer, which surprises me.

Noble Rot pours a wonderful golden color. For some reason when I hear wine, I assume it’s red, so I wasn’t expecting a golden colored beer. It is perfectly clear and has a nice white head as well. The nose is very much that of a farmhouse ale. There is some wet straw and a slight sour note to it. If I were describing this beer to my sour beer friends I would say that it has some funk, but is nowhere near funky.

On the first taste I was surprised at the nice solid, but balanced sourness that opens this beer. I got some white grape flavor which was not unlike that of Midas Touch. This beer also has a champagne quality to it. It is highly carbonated and finishes in the style of a champagne. There is a really interesting mix of flavors going on, all of which mesh nicely into this beer.

If you are expecting a beer that is really sour you are going to be very disappointed by this beer. It isn’t strongly sour, but the light bit of sourness that is there is very pleasing. I found this one to be super drinkable and I would gladly get another bottle if they weren’t so expensive. One last quick note about this beer, it is the first DFH beer that I have seen with an embossed DFH logo on the bottle. Picture below.

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Beer Review #195 Tweason’ale

Dogfish Head seems to have an endless supply of new beers. Tweason’ale is no exception to that “rule.” I believe that this is the first gluten free beer that Dogfish Head has ever produced. According to the bottle it is, “a gluten-free sorghum-based ale brewed with strawberries and buckwheat honey.” I really dig strawberries in berry form but I often find that it fails to translate into other mediums (strawberry ice cream, strawberry cake, etc… all gross to me). I will give DFH credit on taking an interesting take to the growing gluten “problem.”

Tweason’ale pours an orange color with a reddish hue. There is a thin white head and the beer looks different than a normal beer. By that I mean that the liquid look deflated and the size of bubbles isn’t the same as a typical beer. The nose is firmly strawberry with lots of sweetness. I didn’t get any hops or anything else for that matter.

On the first taste the strawberry dominates as the predominate flavor in the beer. There is some sweetness and no real hops to balance it out. There is also an earthy/grassy component to this beer. I thought that it had a very “vitamin quality” to it. As you drink this beer you develop a strange feeling in the middle of the drink. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it doesn’t jive with the beer idea. Not a single bitterness component comes in to clean this beer up which I think it really needs.

I suppose for a fruit beer this one isn’t terrible but it also isn’t a style that agrees with me. When I read the label I was truly expecting something that wasn’t going to be very good, but this beer was better than expected. For my taste buds this beer had a lot going against it, but I was able to finish the glass and not hate myself for it. This is a one bottle beer for me, but again, not as bad as I expected. If you dig fruit beers or need/want gluten free beers, this might not be a bad option for you.

Beer Review #186 90 Minute IPA

I have reviewed a lot of Dogfish Head beer on this is in recent month, but give a guy a break, I live in Delaware. I would be remiss if I didn’t support the First State’s first craft brewery. DFH makes some really great beers and they also make some beers that are just not my style, but you can never deny that they aren’t afraid to try anything (even if it is just for marketing purposes). 90 Minute IPA is the middle child of their famed IPA series, 60 Minute and 120 Minute being the other “young and older” beers respectively. DFH also makes a 75 Minute IPA but it is only released on draft and can be a bitch to find.

This IPA comes in at 9% ABV and is continually hopped from 90 minutes during the boil. It pours a nice orange-amber color and is crystal clear. The head is a soapy white with a good mix of bubble sizes. The nose has a nice hop odor to with with lots of floral and citrus notes. There is some slight sweetness mixed in behind the hops.

On my first taste I was surprised at the malt behind this beer. There is a solid malt backbone and some biscuit notes are there to add some nice depth of flavor. Before the malt really has a chance to settle in the hops come in and really give a good kick. The hops are in flavor what they were in smell, floral and citrus. I also got some grapefruit in there as well. The robust hops really dry out the beer well and help lead to a crisp ending.

I really dig this one. Of the “big three” this is my favorite. I found it to be nicely in balance and it had a really nice selection of flavors. For anĀ  Imperial IPA this one is fantastic. If you haven’t had this one before, go get it! (more…)

Beer Review #138 Hellhound On My Ale

Since I live in Delaware, Dogfish Head beers are pretty easy for me to get a hold of. The same buddy who got Leipziger Gose for me asked if I could pick him up a bottle of Hellhound On My Ale. While I decided to get one for him, I also thought that I should get one for myself, since I’m such a giving guy. Dogfish Head made this 10% ABV double IPA to celebrate the 100th birthday of Robert Johnson. They have this to say about the beer:

2011 marks the 100th birthday of Mississippi Delta bluesman Robert Johnson who, according to legend, sold his soul down at the crossroads in a midnight bargain and changed music forever. Working again with our friends at Sony Legacy (yup, the same folks we did our Miles Davis-inspired Bitches Brew with), Dogfish Head pays tribute to this blues legend by gettin the hellhounds off his trail and into this finely-crafted ale.

I mainly think that they were looking for someone who’s birthday was coming up on 100 years since the beer have everything done in logarithmic scale. It have 10% ABV, 10 SRM (color), dry hopped with 100% centennial hops at a rate of 100 kilos per 100 barrels. Sounds good to me.

The beer pours a nice orange color with a slightly off-white head. The nose is loaded with lots of good hops and some sweetness. In addition it has some heat and lemons. Yeah lemons. This ale is actually brewed with lemons. Go figure.

The taste is complex and wonderful. There is some caramel and roasted malt followed by by some really solid hops. While this is a double IPA, it isn’t overboard on the hops. There is some heat present and the lemon flavor is kind of, sort-of there. For a big beer this one is pretty darn good. My only complaint is that the heat in this one is a little too strong compared to the rest of the balance that was created. This is a limited release so I have no idea if you can still get it, but if you can, it’s worth the $15 price tag. (more…)

Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Entrepreneurship from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

As I have said several times we recently moved from Texas back to the east coast. When we got to Texas, a year ago, I started reading Brewing Up a Business by Sam Calagione, the owner of Dogfish Head. About two weeks after I got into the book I lost it. I thought I lost it at work and the lost and found was empty so I counted the book in the MIA column. When we were moving I pulled out the dresser, and my book showed up. Awesome.

I just finished the book up this week and I thought I would share my review with you. First off, let me say that I really liked the book. The book tells the tale of how Sam started his brewery from brewpub, to the wonderful “power house” that it is now. I am interested in starting my own brewpub, so I found several parts of the book particularly interesting.

Another thing to know about this book, it isn’t really about beer. I love Dogfish Head as much as the next guy, but this book is more business oriented, which the title should tell you. Sam tells you about this business, why he did things the way he did, problems that they encountered, about the personality of the company, about about being an effective leader.

My favorite two parts of this entire book were when Sam talked about the creation of the moto for Dogfish Head and the leadership aspect of owning a business. Dogfish Head does what it does because they have a focused mission; Off-centered beers for off-centered people. They know that they are not hitting all of the market, and that is OK. Sam takes responsibility for mistakes that were made and offers solutions for business owners so that they do not do the same.

There are parts of the book that gets repetitive, but they are in there for a reason. Sam is showing how important that aspect is to his business. The most important thing to take away from this book is that Sam believes in his idea. As an entrepreneur you need to be willing to take risks and believe in what you are doing 100%. Sam shows that he did and still does in this book. It is an interesting read if you are thinking about starting you own company or want to see how a unique craft brewing came to being.