Sacramento Beer Week: Capitol Beer and Taproom was hosting a Dogfish Head Tap Takeover including a rare selection from the brewery. The place was nuts, crawling with Dogfish Head and beer enthusiasts. The tasting got away from me a little because of my selection of high-alcohol beers, but honestly would have been missing out had I passed on any one beer I had.
*Beers are pictured in order of Olde School, 120 Minute IPA, Burton Baton and World Wide Stout, though my tasting notes below are listed in order consumed.
"120 Minute IPA" Imperial IPA: I’ve sampled this once previously, but found it to be too hot in my infant stages of craft beer. After I’ve been around the block a few times, I found this beer to be most-palatable. Loads of sweet toffee malt with a slight hop bitterness of pine and hints of citrus to help balance it out. Ranging between 15 and 20% ABV, this vintage was around 18%, which yielded high fusel notes that were gracefully integrated into the beer’s profile. Supposedly 120 IBU, I felt the beer was more sweet and bitter. It almost reminded me of a Barleywine.
"Olde School" Barleywine: The only beer from the tap takeover I haven’t previously experienced. Again, varies in ABV usually between 13 and 16%, this vintage was rated at 15% alcohol. Notes of figs and currants with loads of sweet caramel malt coupled with citrus hop bitterness. Undertones of charred oak and vanilla. Plenty of fusel notes, though not as hot as 120. Slightly grainy with a medium body and a dry, lingering finish. Robust. One of the best Barleywines I’ve ever had. I really want to find a four-pack of this and age 2 or 3 bottles.
"Burton Baton" Oak-Aged Double IPA: While everyone else has a hard on for 90 Minute IPA, my heart belongs to Burton Baton. A blend of an English-Style Old Ale and a Double IPA. This one was significantly hoppier than 120 with notes of citrus coupled with sweet caramel malt. Undertones of oak and vanilla. A bit estery with medium body and a dry, lingering finish. Not overly complex, but well-executed and one of my favorite year-around releases by Dogfish Head.
"World Wide Stout" Imperial Stout: Another one of those largely-varying ABV beers, this year’s vintage was 18%. I just had this one recently at The Abbey, but who knows when I’ll find it again. Gotta get my fix while the fixin’s good. Lots of dark roasted barley with notes of chocolate and undertones of vanilla and oak. Coffee and anise. Almost had a burnt candi sugar characteristic, which I have also previously perceived as molasses. Medium-plus body with plenty of fusel notes, though not hot. This is a beer that must be tried.
Verdict: After trying all of these beers side by side, I truly appreciate Dogfish Head just a little bit more. I know they’re a great brewery, but sometimes I forgot just how much. All of these beers were incredible and I honestly couldn’t rate them on a scale of palatableness.
I’d also like to give a thank-you shout out to Dogfish Head North Western Regional Manager, Jim Ford, for taking the time to talk with me.