Dogfish Head Night

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The latest guest brewery featured at the Global Beer Exchange Bottle Shop was Dogfish Head, the fun fellows behind the beer geek documentary Brew Masters on Discovery Channel. Unfortunately, this was pulled due to pressure from one of the big beer companies in the United States which threatened to discontinue advertising if the show were to be renewed for another season. DFH’s founder and brewmaster, Sam Calagione is one of the most prominent and knowledgeable craft beer minds, and is known not only for brewing highly experimental beers with the most creative of ingredients, but also for recreating and reinventing some historical beer recipes dating back thousands of years.

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A poster of their Immor Ale welcomed visitors to the Bottle Shop, but other goodies were in store for the lucky few who reserved slots for the event.

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90 Minute IPA is arguably the flagship brew of Dogfish Head, with is continually hopped for 90 minutes. This is undeniably an Atlantic-style IPA, with the balance leaning toward the malty side of the scale. The grains are pronounced, tasting almost similar to a roasted malt-heavy porter or stout, although the flavor is more highland corn coffee (yes, we have that in the Philippines) than coffee beans. The hops arrive late to the show, but do make their presence felt without being too imposing then silently taking their leave. It’s easy to see how a lot of people absolutely love this beer, but as a Pacific-bred hophead, I still look for the fresh summer aroma and knockout bitterness signature to a Californian IPA. If a self-proclaimed “non-beer drinker” were to try this, I’m sure they would be in for the experience of a lifetime.

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Midas Touch is a “handcrafted ancient ale with barley, honey, white muscat grapes and saffron,” originally touted as a “Golden Elixir” which was somewhere between beer and mead. This was originally brewed as a collaboration between Dogfish Head and archaeologist Patrick McGovern, who discovered a tomb in Turkey claimed to belong to the mythical King Midas. Several ingredients for an ancient beer recipe were found buried along with the king. It was that same list of ingredients that Dogfish Head used in coming up with a contemporary approximation of an early version of beer fit for royalty 2700 years ago. While everything King Midas touched would turn to gold, this beer might have missed his reach. Its historical value is without question — it is so “vintage” and “retro” that it predates even hipsters. While it is fascinating to get an idea of how the ancients might have enjoyed their fermented grain beverages, ceteris paribus, there wasn’t much flavor to this beer. There were subtle honey notes and the smallest hint of sweetness. The mouthfeel was light, without any of the crispness of most lighter-bodied beers and white wines, despite the inclusion of muscat grapes. Nevertheless, this was an interesting look into how people thousands of years ago drank. I’m curious to try the other brews in the Ancient Ales line of Dogfish Head, featuring recreations of beers from civilizations in China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Honduras and Finland, among others.

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Finally, I opened a bottle of year-old World Wide Stout (no relation to Pitbull). I received a couple of bottles last year as a gift from a friend, who was a member of the UP Law / Philippine contingent which reached the semifinals of the 2012 Jessup International Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C. I opened the first one soon after, finding that it was still too young to really be enjoyed and could use a bit of aging.

I originally noted that the roasted malt, chocolate and slight soy sauce flavors were overwhelmed by the strong booziness of the beer. After a year in the back of my closet, I thought it would be good to reunite the second bottle of World Wide Stout with its fellow DFH brews. The 18-or-so percent alcohol by volume had mellowed quite a bit, allowing the deep malt flavors to really shine. Among the strong stouts I’ve tried, this was much better than the cloying Brewdog Tokyo (although that was quite young, as well). The soy sauce notes come out even more, especially after a few sips, but otherwise, this was a nice, stiff drink for capping the evening.

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However, it was 80’s Night, and some (figurative) demons were out and about, meaning that good music and dancing were a must. Getting your drink spiked with craft gin was optional, or in the case of those who lacked vigilance, unfortunate.

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