Dogfish Head is an interesting company with a weird name. Founded in 1995 in Milton, Delaware by Sam Calagione, the company has grown quickly and exponentially, becoming a major producer of beer in the US. Dogfish Head — like many US brewers these days — claims to produce extreme and experimental beers, and for this company, they really mean it. They brew beers with green raisins, algae, and other oddities. They also make a very popular and well-rated line of India Pale Ales.
Dogfish Head India Brown Ale (7.2% ABV) is described on the company’s website thus:
Forget about the car companies, this is the original hybrid. A cross between a Scotch Ale, an India Pale Ale and an American Brown, Indian Brown Ale is well-hopped and malty at the same time (It’s magical!).
The beer has characteristics of each style that inspired it: the color of an American Brown, the caramel notes of a Scotch Ale, and the hopping regimen of an India Pale Ale. We dry-hop the Indian Brown Ale in a similar fashion to our 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA. This beer is brewed with Aromatic barley and organic brown sugar.
The description of the ale indicates that it is top-fermented, warm-fermented, and brewed with a large amount of hops. And as the company indicates, combining an ale brewed with dark-roasted grains, and a high hops content, is unusual, since the two flavors are often viewed as contradictory. And because this ale contains added brown sugar, it seems like any hoppiness would not be a good match. But how does it turn out in reality? Let’s see!
Everything On Tap Review: Dogfish Head India Brown Ale:
Bottle: The squat, dark-brown bottle is graced with a rectangular label whose background is a photograph of roasted grains. The round, blue, Dogfish Head logo looks modern but tasteful. The lettering is off-white.
Pour: The color is dark brown with moderate clarity. The head is two fingers thick and off-white. It dissipates at a moderate pace, leaving medium lacing.
Aroma: The aroma begins with a clear burst of chocolate, dark-roasted, malted grains — unmistakable and of a high quality. There is a distinct, mysterious aroma of smoky, charred oak on the nose — where does it come from?
Flavor: The flavor palate hits the tongue first with intense, rich, creamy, chocolate malted grains. This is followed by sweet biscuit batter, brownie batter, and toast, yeasty bread. Then, that mysterious smokiness comes in. After that, the finish is of a high-quality, dark-roasted grain nature. Oddly, the advertised hops do not seem to be present, and I found this to be a disappointment. After all, if the beer is billed as a unique new combination of dark ale and hops, but the hops are really not evident, then is it not simply a dark ale? It is disappointing. That being said, as a dark ale, it is excellent. This is reflected in the high rating the ale is given in this review: the rating is as a brown ale.
Mouthfeel: The body is medium and very smooth. The medium carbonation helps to offset the sweetness nicely.
Structure: The structure is difficult to ascertain, because I know there are lots of hops in this ale, but they are almost impossible to detect. Even so, as a brown ale, the structure is acceptably stable.
Food Pairing: A sweetish ale like this would pair acceptably well with roast or grilled duck, lamb, or pork, especially with a wine-reduction sauce.
Overall Rating Out Of 5 Possible Beer Mugs: