Burton Baton – The Dog(fish Head) Days of Summer

It’s hot and muggy here in Delaware again, so I guess it’s the perfect time to wind down my series on the beers of Dogfish Head.  I had one more on my list that I wanted to get to because (I’m not going to lie) I love it.  But for some reason it kept getting swept to the back of the fridge by on coming tides of BBQ sauces, yogurt containers, coke bottles and yes, even other beer.  So with that, let’s reach in deep for the last beer in the Dogfish Days of Summer series.  That beer, is Burton Baton.

Ah wood.  What would we do without it?  What…I already did that?  OK, let’s just taste.

DOGFISH HEAD’S BURTON BATON, $15.99 a 4-Pack

THEM:  Burton Baton starts as two different beers referred to by Sam as “threads”.  The first is an English-style old ale and the other is an imperial IPA,  Once finished in the primary, the threads are combined and aged for 1 month in one of DFH’s 10,000 gallon oak barrels.  Baton clocks in at 10%ABV and 70IBUs.

ME:  I like it, I love it, I want some more of it.  Beautiful ruby red with a crisp head.  Oak and floral hops swirl out of the glass with hints of caramel, honey, fruit (raisins?).  The flavor is a lot of the same, but it doesn’t muddle all together like a big mess.  To me, the hops/IPA are just a touch under the old ale (which is pretty impressive considering BB has a pound of hops per barrel) the beer having that big caramel/malt sweetness, but not overly so due to a little bit of bitter on the back end.  It initially was hiding its 10%ABV pretty well but it did start peeking through a bit on towards the bottom of the glass.

I’m not sure which is more fun, just drinking the damn thing or trying to crawl into the glass and figure out all that’s going on inside of it.  If there’s anything negative to say about this beer it’s that it certainly doesn’t drink well on a hot, humid day like today.  This beer needs cooler temperatures (like maybe later tonight when the temperature starts to drop) and probably would work well with food, although to be honest I’d prefer just giving the stage to BB as a solo.  It really doesn’t need a backing band in my mind.

This is tough because Baton is sitting right on that CASE/KEG edge.  I’m just trying to figure out if it’s really up there with Hellhound and Theobroma for me.    You know what?  I think this is the perfect beer to slide gracefully out of the ratings bizz.  It’s been fun, but  you don’t need me to assign some arbitrary appraisal to Burton Baton to know what a great beer it is.  All you have to do is pour one yourself.  And speaking of which….

TIme of another beer….

Burton

What My Friends Think – The Dog(fish Head) Days of Summer

When I decided to focus solely on DFH over the month of August (point of disclosure, it’s now going to spill into a couple of days of September), part of my initial plan was to get some of my fellow bloggers involved.  I wanted to share some insights on Delaware’s #1 brewery from people whose blogs I read on a regular basis and whose opinions I valued.  I thought it would be a great to mix outside opinions with my homer attitudes.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  Except of course for Oliver Gray at Literature and Libation who, through an email conversation we shared, was the only one who knew my plans before hand and jumped on the chance to contribute.  I thank him for that.

For the rest, well let’s just say that I know the value of people’s time, and I didn’t feel like being overly greedy in requests to participate in this.  But then I realized that I didn’t have too as they’d already done all the work for me.  A quick skim of blogs I follow revealed a wealth of previously written DFH reviews that span the gamete of the brewery’s catalog.  All that was left for me to do was to pull them together into one post.

If I had thought of this sooner, I would have done the smart thing.  I would have include links in each of my reviews to other reviews of the same beer.  This would have stretched it out over the full month.  But as usual, the smart idea always comes late to me (if it ever comes at all).  So with that, here is a run down of some of the excellent blogs that I read along with links to some of their DFH reviews.  Now I don’t expect you to go down and immediately read everyone.  But I suggest you bookmark this post, and over the course of the next couple of weeks or so pick a blog or a beer and check them out.  There’s some great stuff here.  So with that….

As I said above, Oliver over a Literature and Libation was quick to jump on the chance to do a guest post for my Dogfish Days of Summer series.   You can check out two more pieces of beer fiction at this blog, one for Sixty-One and another for Noble Rot.  You can also check out one of my favorite reviews of his (ok, maybe I’m biased because he gives me a shout out) for My Antonia.

You have to be a certain type of person to love Scott’s “special” take on the craft beer world and BBQ over at Beerbecue.  Luckily, I’m just that certain type of person.  First, Beerbecue daycare takes a turn to peaches of all kinds, including DFH’s Festina Peach.  Next he turns his eye towards Noble Rot and rebuilds a teddy bear.  Then it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in the BBC house without Bitches Brew.  Scott doesn’t suffer from gluten intolerance, hell he doesn’t even understand it.  But he still reviews Tweason’ Ale. And finally, you can find out what he thinks about DFH’s Punkin ale here.

If you’re not following the great collaborative blog about beer and whiskey that is It’s Just the Booze Dancing, well then you must not want to learn anything about beer and whiskey.  First, G-LO takes a look a Sixty-One, Festina Peach and Punkin Ale.  Then Limpd gets into the act with a review of Midas Touch.

Stouts and Stilletoes is an great blog written from a woman’s perspective by three ladies who really enjoy (and know) their craft beer.  Check out Heffenista’s review of DFH’s Black and Blue.

Christopher over at the awesome blog I Think About Beer (especially if you’re into Belgian Beers) takes a look at DFH Aprihop, the DFH/SN collaboration Rhizing BInes, and finally  Etusca Bronze.

Ed’s blog Fill It or Spill It has an easy straight forward concept, either he wants more of the beer he’s reviewing, or he doesn’t.  Check out whether he filled or spilled DFH beers Fort, Old School 2011, Old School 2010, Punkin’ Ale, Pangaea, and finally his thoughts on his visit to the source – Dogfish Head Brewpub.

The local boys over at Brewski Boxscore are certainly no strangers to DFH beers!  Check out their thoughts on Burton Baton, Sixty-One, Rhizing Bines, World Wide Stout, Chicory Stout, Olde School, Birra Etruscia, 75 Minute IPA, Black and Blue, Red and White, Namaste, LIfe and Limb #2, Faithfull Ale, Raison D’Etre, 60 Minute, Pangaea, Ta Henket, 120 Minute, Noble Rot, Squall IPA, Theobroma, Positive Contact, Hellhound on my Ale, and Immort ale.

Then there’s displaced English man DING, who’s trying to find his way in the out-of-control freight train that is the American craft beer scene.  You can read his thoughts on Birra Etrusce Bronze, 75-Minute IPA, Positive Contact, Urkontinent, Tweason’ale, Noble Rot, Ta Henket, Faithful Ale, Life and Limb 2, and Hellhound on my Ale.

Mark is always taking a very critical and in-depth look at beer over at the Kaedrin Beer Blog and he’s reviewed quite a few of DFH beers over the past couple of years.  Check out his excellent reviews on Olde School Barleywine, 120 Minute IPA, 75 Minute IPA, World Wide Stout, Squall IPA, Rasion D-Etre, Indian Brown Ale, and Saison du Buff.

One writer that I’ve recently started to follow is Jana over at Head Over Beers.  She writes great posts on food and beer, including this recent review on Rhizing Bines.

Bryan, the mind behind the Six-Pack project and the blog This is Why I’m Drunk has some awesome insights into DFH beers.  First he takes a look at 2010’s World Wide Stout, Next he tries to do 120 Minute IPA (2011) justice in 120 words and  finally, he packs up the car to go to the source itself.  Read his thought’s on his beergrimage to DFH brewpub where he decides to take on the entire draft list.

Check out The AleMonger blog which always has an interesting tone and perspective.  You can read his review on Sixty-One  where he makes a bold prediction on Sam Calgione’s next business venture.

Gary of at Lyrics, Libations and Life seems to have taken a little break for his summer vacation (lucky teachers) but there’s still plenty of great stuff to read over there, including reviews of Birra Etrusce Bronze, Saison du Buff, Noble Rot, 120 Minute IPA, Chicory Stout, Faithfull Ale, Punkin, Midas Touch, Hellhound on my Ale, and, Red and White.

Ryan Mould writes the awesome Mould’s Beer Blog (no fancy name needed) where he’s looked at several DFH beers.  Check out his reviews on Birra Etusce Bronze, Chicory Stout, and  Positive Contact.

Finally, I’m going to finish up with two sites that do talk about beer, but that’s not their only focus,

First I suggest you check out Gabe over at Beer and a Movie.  He pairs up great beer with a film and then gives you the run down on both.  You can check out his review of Noble Rot and Shawn of the Dead, then Bitches Brew and The Cotton Club, and finally 60 Minute and Ip Man.

Next I suggest you head on over to Movies, Cigars and a Brew with local guys Keith and Andrew.  You can check out their podcast on Anna Karenina, Les Miserables, Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 5, Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig Cigar and (of course) Dogfish Head’s Positive Contact.  Then the guys share their thoughts on the movie Arbitrage,  El Rey del Mundo robusto Larga cigars and Raison D’Etre.

Well that should keep you busy for awhile.  I’d like give a shout out to all the blogs mentioned and thank them for their time in looking at the beers from Dogfish Head.  I look forward to reading more reviews in the future.

Cheers!

Black and Blue & Red and White – The Dog(fish Head) Days of Summer

I’m doing these beers together because – well, their labels suggest I should.  And that’s by design.  The label for Black and Blue was done by David Larned, a Pennsylvania painter who studied for a time in Florance, Italy before finishing at the University of Pennsylvania.  His wife, Sarah painted the label for Red and White.  But that’s just about all these two beers have in common, as they’re both nods to totally separate styles.  Let’s Taste.

THEM:  Black and Blue ($13.99/750mL bottle)is Belgian-style golden ale from a malt recipe stand point and then it’s fermented with real puree of black raspberries and blueberries.  The beer shares the same yeast strain with Red and White, and Pangaea (which sadly I wasn’t able to get my hands on for this months round of reviews).  Sam states that the benefit of using real fruit instead of artificial flavors is that the real fruit allows you to get the fruit in the flavor and not just the aroma.  Black and Blue clocks in at a respectable 10%ABV and has 25IBUs.

Red and White ($13.99/750mL bottle) from a beer perspective can be thought of as a Belgian white with some red wine nuances brought on by the addition of pinot noir juice in the fermenter.  The beer contains coriander and orange peel as you might expect.  Sam than twists the beer a bit by aging a portion of it in oak tanks.  The finished beer also contains 10%ABV, but clocks in at a slightly higher 35IBUs.

ME: First Black and Blue.  The beer has a beautiful berry red color to it with a ring of white bubbles around the edge of the glass. The nose is pretty much as it say on the label, gobs of raspberry with hints of blueberry peeking through.  The flavor is more of the same with bold fruit and a clean crisp finish with just an ever so light kiss of tartness.  If beer labels were subject to truth in advertising laws, DFH would have nothing to worry about here.  This beer is exactly as described.  I would compare it to a raspberry lambic along the lines of a LIndeman’s Framboise, great berry taste, but not as tart on the back end as some other Framboise I’ve had.  Of course, that’s not a straight ahead comparison as for me the raspberry takes more center stage here, but I think there’s enough commonality that I can make the comparison pretty confidently.

Red and White.  Well this is a whole other beer.  Amber through the center of the glass and with carbonation/head that pretty much is on point with Black and Blue, but that’s where the similarities end.  I could see this beer going south with the addition of the wood, which is probably why DFH only ages a fraction of the beer in oak.  Everything is there that would remind you of a white ale, the coriander, the orange.  There’s a little roundness in the middle that I’d attribute to the grape juice, but nothing here screams “grapes!” to me.  For the record, that’s a good thing.  The wood is subdued.  In fact, I can’t even pick it up unless I’m restrained from putting the glass up to my nose for a few minutes.  It’s got a touch of sweetness to it (for the record I’m not good at judging the whole “sweet” thing sometimes, I blame the years of my youth spent downing 4 liters of real coca-cola every day) but it’s not making my fillings itch by any means.  The finish is clean and not overly bitter and it leaves your mouth with a nice little smack of something that I’d almost describe as honey at the end.  I gave the glass to Tracey (remember, white ale fan) anticipating that I might not get it back and her thoughts that it was a nice white ale, but the added complexity would make it something that she’d enjoy drinking all year round, not just in the summer months.  Hmmm, maybe she should be writing this blog.

After doing this for a month I’m really starting to understand why I don’t like ratings.  You really have to come in with a clean and concise understanding of what your ratings mean and then strictly adhere to them.  Over the past month I’ve kind of danced on the line a bit.  Sometimes I’ve rated beers on just where I though they stood in the DFH catalog and other times I’ve adjusted them knowing that the beer I was rating might not be something that everyone would want to buy a 4-PACK of only to find out that one was enough.

Black and Blue throws me into a tizzy.  I love this beer and would give it a CASE.  But understand, although I’m not big on fruit beers, I love raspberries, and have a HUGE soft spot when it comes to blueberries in a beer.  Maybe it was the several trips I took to Maine where they put blueberries in…well, just about everything.  This thing hits the two fruits on point, and I think it would absolutely rock with a piece of chocolate cake.   However, if I was to continue to rate beers beyond this point I’d add what I’d call a “Recommendation Rating”, and that would be a TASTER.  This might not be for everyone, especially you testosterone laden, hop heads.   That being said, if what I’ve described appeals to you, then by all means pick up a bottle.  You’ll be happy you did.

Red and White is a 6-PACK (or in this case a bomber bottle), it’s a solid beer with its touch of wood and its impeccable balance, but going CASE would be just to much.  That being said, nothing says you have to stop at one bottle and remember, Tracey says it’s good all year round (Who am I to argue) so since it’s brewed only once a year, maybe you should a keep a couple bottles around for later.

Time for another beer…

bbrw

Bitches Brew – The Dog(fish Head) Days of Summer

There are some things that simply transcend a small blog like this.  The subject’s depth and grandeur in our world can not be summed up in the mere 500-600 words that I would write.  Nor would those words do any justice or provide sufficient scope to the subject they intend to convey.

Such is Miles Davis.  To say Miles Davis was a jazz musician would be like saying that Jack McAuliffe was just a brewer.  It so understates what he brought to his craft and the art as a whole, and also his influence in not only the world of jazz, but other genres of music as well.  So instead of writing a few inadequate words, I suggest you  read a synopses of his amazing contributions to music on wikipedia.

That being said, I will take a few paragraphs to talk about Bitches Brew, Davis’ 1970 album that lends it’s name to DFH’s first entry in its musical beer series.  The album marked a continuation of Davis’ experimentation with electric instruments and a more rock influenced style that he had started to experiment with in his previous album, In The Silent Way.

The album (which features such notable musicians as Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin and Chick Corea) wasn’t a critical success early on mainly because it was such a departure from what was currently going on in the jazz word.  But it later became recognized as a major influence in the jazz-rock genre as well as impacting rock and funk.  Despite the mixed response from critics the album won a Grammy in 1971 for best large jazz ensemble album.  In 2010, DFH release the self-titled beer, Bitches Brew, to honor the 40th anniversary of Davis’ influential album.  Cue up the vinyl, put  your headphones on, and let’s taste.

Dogfish Head’s Bitches Brew, $xxx, 750mL Bottle

THEM: DFH describes BB as “a dark beer that’s a fusion of three threads of imperial stout and one thread of honey beer with gesho root.”  And that’s pretty correct.  BB is a blend of two beers.  One is described as a straight forward stout, on which DFH gives no info.  The second is a Tej, which is an African mead that uses gesho (Rhamnus prinioides, or Shiny-leaf Buckthorn) much in the same way that hops are used in traditional beer.  The beer clocks in at a respectable 9%ABV and 38IBUs.

ME: BB pours black with a tan head.  The dark grains immediately jump from the nose with what I’m getting as a touch of licorice.  This is every bit the imperial stout it’s reported to be.  For as heavy as it is, there’s still a surprising amount of caramel coming across in the nose.  I’m diggin’ this daddy-o!  The flavor is an amalgamation, of chocolate, molasses, malt, vanilla, a bit of that licorice, a hint of honey,  and perhaps a touch of cherry.  Man this thing is really packing it in.  It drinks like smooth jazz, mellow, yet flavorful through most of it, clean and not overly bitter on the back end.

There’s plenty here to hide the 9%ABV, so this beer doesn’t come across as boozy, although I think I’m sensing a bit peeking through.  The after taste leaves you with a nice coating around your mouth  with hints of honey and a dash of coffee.    I struggling for more things to say about it, but there really isn’t.  But that’s not a negative, this beer is compact and tight like seasoned jazz musicians.

I wish I was familiar with gesho to know exactly what it was bringing to this jam session.  I’m sure it’s in the mix somewhere, but like a newbe to Jazz music, I’m just not noticing it on my first listen.

Initially I was thinking 6-Pack on this, but I have to admit after drinking it for a while (and as it warms up) I’m going CASE.  This beer is really nice with lots of great flavors and is just balanced beautifully.  It totally reaffirms my belief that whether I like them or not, DFH is really putting a lot of love into their music series beers.

Time for another beer….

bbrew

Sah’tea – The Dog(fish Head) Days of Summer

[Apologies for those who got this twice.  I pushed PUBLISH yesterday when I meant to push PREVIEW. I wish there was an easy way to undo that.

Author’s Note: August is the Dog(fish Head) days of Summer here at The Dogs of Beer.  All throughout the month I’ll be looking exclusively at the beers from DFH.]

Sahti is a traditional brew made in Finland dating back to the 9th century.  The beer can include barley, wheat, rye and oats, and is usually fermented or flavored with juniper berries.  Traditional Sahti is a non-boiled beverage.  Since no hops are used the wort didn’t require it, so the brew would go right from the lauter tun to the fermenter.   Sah’tea, released in 2009, is an ancient ale nod from DFH to that ancient Finnish brew.  Let’s taste.

Dogfish Head, Sah’tea, 1pint 9.4oz bottle, $13.99

THEM:  Let’s just turn to the DFH description, “The wort for Sah’tea is caramelized over white-hot river rocks, and the beer is fermented with a German weizen yeast. In addition to juniper berries foraged from the Finnish countryside, Sah’tea is flavored with black tea.”

The white-hot rocks might seem odd to some.  But in days of old, metal brew kettles were uncommon so wood vats were used instead.  Visualize a roaring fire under a wood vat.  Yeah, you get it.  So rocks were heated in fires until they were as hot as they could get and then dropped into the vats of brew.  The rocks were so hot that they not only increased the wort to the desired temperature, but also would instantly caramelize the sugars surrounding them giving the brew a unique flavor.  Post boil, DFH adds a “tea” of ramp leaves (Allium tricoccum, commonly referred to as ramp, spring onion, wild garlic or wild leeks) , Chai tea, Cumin and Corriander.  It is then fermented with a German weizen yeast to 9%ABV and is listed to have 6 IBUs.

ME:  Nice looking beer, light amber, good level of carbonation.  But this beer crashes and burns for me pretty quickly.  The nose is light, but definitely brings forth phenols, juniper and bananas (a characteristic that Sahti is supposed to have) which almost gives it a bubble gum vibe.  There’s also an herbalness that I’m assuming comes from the Chai Tea.  The flavor is more of the same, although I get the herbalness more than the juniper berries, which all in all has an almost clove flavor to me with a hint of honey floating around.  This would be a profile I’d expect out of a Christmas beer, and considering where the style comes from maybe I’m not to far off with that assertion.  As you’d expect, t 6 IBUs, Sah’tea doesn’t have a crisp finish.  Instead it finishes with that clove/juniper flavor which isn’t horribly overwhelming unless you don’t like these flavors – which I don’t.

The total presentation isn’t bad if you can get past the flavors.  The ending is clean, the body is on the light side and it serves to hide the 9% ABV pretty well (although there is a slight warmth which I think comes more from the spice than the alcohol).

The only thing I can think of is that the Fins were trying to mask an otherwise horrible tasting drink with anything they happen to have handy.  And if these flavors sound good to you, this is right up your alley.  If not, you’re probably with me and giving this a TASTER.  This is not the beer you want to plunk your hard earned money on unawares.  Trust.  Clean, well constructed, but the flavors may not appeal to everyone.

If this does sound like your glass of beer, this ancient ale isn’t exclusive.  New Belgian Brewing produces a Sahti Ale, and Samuel Adams Norse Legend is based on the style.

Time for another beer.

sahtea