Welcome to my beer blog. Here I'll post some of my thoughts on and reviews of craft brewed beer. Follow me on Twitter @AleThoughts

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beer Review: Dogfish Head Robert Johnson's Hellhound On My Ale

Fresh Snifter Pour
My wife and I are down in Delaware for a few days on vacation. She wanted to surprise me with a trip to the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth for an afternoon of fun. The secret got out a few days before our trip. I was extremely excited for this day. I dutifully did my homework and saw that there were four or five brew pub exclusives on tap this week, all of which I had never had. I was able to enjoy all of them. What really excited me was the beer I had not yet heard of, Hellhound.

From what I've read this is the second in the series of the Sony collaboration, a follow up to Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. I had not heard one peep of this brew prior to arriving. I am a music fanatic and was very pleased with Bitches Brew. Being a Miles Davis nut I was like a pig in shit when this one finally came out. Finding out that there's another in the series? Hell yeah. It's on. I feel like I've struck gold. I was quite excited that it was on draft at the brew pub. We were able to leave with two 750ml bottles to take home. We were told that this is a production batch and that we will see it in stores.

Full bottle shot
Hellhound is an imperial India pale ale brewed with lemons. IPA is a style that is not at all new to the folks at Dogfish head. Their sessionable 60 Minute IPA, hop bomb 90 Minute IPA and cellar dweller booze bomb 120 Minute IPA are all regulars in my household. Their Burton Baton is a nice oak aged imperial IPA and their brew pub/ale house exculsive 75 Minute IPA are both very enjoyable. Their Spring seasonal ApriHop is a excellent tart fruit IPA. So, why do we need yet another IPA from Dogfish Head? It appears to be about inspiration here.

When we first arrived it was not yet tapped. About an hour in to our visit the bartender told us that it was on an ready to pour. One please! He poured a fresh one in to a snifter for me. It appears light hazy copper with big off white fluffy head and sticky lacing. The aroma is of sweet sticky non-bitter hop notes, not much else surprisingly.

The flavor is surprisingly mild with earthy hop notes up front. It has a sweet and lemon juicy feel to it. Creamy sweet middle with some grapefruit and bitter lemon notes, with a fading bitter finish. This is not the hop bomb I expected. It feels medium to light-medium bodied and only a hint of alcohol warmth. Very enjoyable and not very heavy on the palate.

Overall I'd have to say that Hellhound is a very good representation of the imperial IPA style. Much more fruity than I expected. This is an excellent alternative to the 90 min IPA if you don't want the overwhelming bitter bops and alcohol feel. This clocks in at a slightly higher ABV than the 90 but you wouldn't know it at all. I really do enjoy (the side effects of) high gravity and high ABV brews, but sometimes it's just not practical or convenient to enjoy them. This one will sneak up on you. It's incredibly easy to drink for 10% alcohol by volume. A full pint will have you feeling warm and fuzzy.

In my opinion, success in brewing is achieved when all ingredients are represented in flavor and aroma and the alcohol content is well hidden.  This one is very close to being perfect for me. The aroma was a tad underwhelming. If it the smell matched the flavor profile they'd have hit a home run. Instead, they hit a triple which subsequently got two runs in.

So, I've got two big bottles to bring home to Baltimore to share. Who want's to come over for a tasting?

I'll be completing a full write up of the brew pub exclusives Noble Rot, Ta Henket, Fungus Tea'Mungus and Black & Red sometime later this week when we get home. Check my Twitter posts (@AleThoughts) for pictures and a few tasting notes.

Here are some close ups of the bottle label.

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