It’s been a little while. I’ve had some beers since my last blog, but I hadn’t been in a position to blog about them – think I need to start carrying an iPad around so I can blog on the fly. Not today, though, because I’m sitting on my butt at home with a 750ml bottle of Dogfish Head’s “Hellhound on my Ale.”
This is a pretty interesting beer, even if merely considering its name and label. However, as this isn’t a blog on label art, I’ll let you look for yourself and I will say no more:
I’m a little excited to review this one, because from what I can tell, this has garnered mixed reviews so far. Good. I like polarizing beers. What is it? It’s a Double IPA (or, Imperial IPA) brewed with lemon, 10% alcohol by volume, 100 IBUs (International Bittering Units). There are many other powers of 10 going on here, but I’ll let you read the label because I don’t feel like talking about them. So let’s see – solid appearance, not a ton of foam, and I’m not getting too much lacing even though my glass is clean. Still, I see that slightly-hazed Double IPA gold – probably just on the hazy side of “clear.”
My first instinct upon dipping my nose in the glass? It’s an ordinary Double IPA. I get all the requisite citrus-y hop. As usual, though, first instinct isn’t the whole story – the beer opens up as it warms, revealing more of the actual lemon zest I expected to smell. It almost smells like you could clean your floors with this stuff and leave your home smelling lemony-fresh. That’s more what I was expecting….beyond that, maybe a little corn silk.
I think the bitterness with this one sneaks up on you. At first I thought there wasn’t much, but it’s building on my palate – mostly citrus-y hop bitterness with the actual lemon coming in more as an accent than as any dominant flavor. I don’t get a great deal of malt backing here, which is surprising for Dogfish Head. Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin, not as resinous as Double IPAs often can be. This actually makes the beer better for warm weather drinking than it otherwise would be, but I think I prefer my Double IPAs to be more on the sticky-icky side. 10% alcohol is not as much of a factor as I thought it would be, which is good, as I hate when my beer tastes like a) gasoline or b) nail polish remover, though I think I’d still prefer to see this clock in at 8-9%. And, I could probably do with a bit more of a malt backbone, though I understand what the brewers were trying to get at with this.
Overall, this is a nice beer, one that I would drink again (good thing, as I have another bottle in my fridge). I don’t place it in the upper echelon of Double IPAs, but that’s not a terrible knock on it, as there’s considerable competition way up in that troposphere. It’s not Pliny the Elder, Dreadnaught, or Maharaja, but it is worth a try.
As for food pairings, I usually like spicy chicken wings, jambalaya, etc. with Double IPAs, but I don’t know if I’d go the spicy route here, because I wouldn’t want to obliterate the delicate lemon zest with chile peppers. I don’t know. Key Lime Pie would probably work, at the risk of sounding like a broken record with my KLP…and this would do well with a good blue cheese, but beyond that I think it’s one to sit down with on its own. I’m killing off the whole 750ml bottle alone, but it’s share-able for sure. This is available in the better South Florida liquor stores and bars, so if interested – go for it.
Overall Impression 4.0
Weighted Average 3.88/B+
Beer Advocate 3.84