Thirsty Dog Brewing Company has a decidedly canine and lupine theme. The company’s name is obvious, but the names of all of their beers are all also somehow related to dogs or wolves. Thirsty Dog was founded by John Najeway in 1997, in Canton, Ohio. Their brewpubs appeared in other cities as well, and in 2003 they began bottling their beer for distribution. Mr. Najeway’s passion for brewing beer began when he attended a Kentucky beer camp, and from there, the rest is history. These days, Thirsty Dog brews beers in the former Burkhardt Brewery building, in Akron, Ohio.
Scotch ale, also known as wee heavy ale, is a style of top-fermented, warm-fermented strong ale. The wort is boiled for a long time, caramelizing the sugar in the grains. This produces strong roasted, sweet, caramel flavors, as well as a tannic bitterness underneath. Many beer drinkers find it a very nice combination. Wee heavy ales also tend to have high alcohol contents.
Thirsty Dog Wulver Wee Heavy Ale (12% ABV), available only from November to February, goes a step further: it is aged in bourbon barrels for 11 months. This aging process usually produces nice oak and whiskey flavors and aromas, and increases a beer’s complexity. How does this wee heavy stand up to a wee bit of heavy aging?
Everything On Tap Review: Thirsty Dog Wulver Wee Heavy Ale:
Bottle: The bottle is dark and seductive. The dark brown to black glass sports a large black label, upon which are gold and red lettering, and a gold logo of two wolves.
Pour: The color is intensely-dark brown, and the clarity is as murky as the Loch Ness. The head is naught but a wee skin that dissipates as quickly as a haggis on a hungry Scotsman’s plate, leaving only a wee bit of lacing.
Aroma: Bourbon whiskey assaults the nose on the attack, followed by waves of very frank vanilla, caramel, coffee, oak, deeply-roasted grains, dark chocolate and milk chocolate, and ethyl alcohol. This is a very heady, complex aroma, as powerful as a winter wind on an Edinburgh night.
Flavor: Strong vanilla, toffee, and chocolate hit the palate, mixed with equally-present measures of raisins, figs, currants, and dates. This is all bolstered with strong bourbon whiskey and ethyl alcohol, with even a hint of oak. The finish imparts smooth, sweet, roasted grains and ethyl alcohol. The flavor is very pleasing, complex, and bold.
Mouthfeel: The texture is medium-bodied with medium carbonation. The main word that comes to mind is smooth, as this ale simply slides its way down your throat without the expected alcohol burn. Lovely.
Structure: This giant, broad, complex structure obviously stood up very well to 11 months of barrel aging, and I bet it would handle more.
Food Pairing: Haggis, of course! Such a sweet, savory, complex ale deserves a strong food partner, and I cannot imagine anything better than haggis. It would also go well with roast suckling pig, beef Wellington, or strong, aged cheeses, or even raw oysters.
Overall Rating Out of 5 Possible Beer Mugs: