Beer Review: Dogfish Head Bitches Brew

Dogfish Head Bitches BrewYesterday was the release of Dogfish Head’s latest one-off creation, Bitches Brew. The beer was previewed at SAVOR in Washington, DC, earlier this summer, and its official debut this week even garnered an NPR feature. Brewed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the seminal Miles Davis album, it’s as unique as Dogfish Head’s other specialty brews. As a blend of three parts imperial stout to one part African mead, I was anticipating something very sweet indeed – and I was pleasantly surprised to find something much more complex and interesting. Of course, that’s not to say that a sweeter beer cannot be fantastically interesting – the wondrous Theobroma, also from Dogfish Head’s stables, certainly ticks both boxes – but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, which is always good fun.

Perhaps some of the surprise is that the beer hides its ‘imperial’ nature quite well – at first sniff or taste, you might be unsure as to whether or not these are the droids you’re looking for. There is not an obvious alcohol scent or burn as is common in beers of this strength (around 9% ABV); it’s remarkably easy-drinking, so it’s a fine thing that Tria was serving it (with some appropriate background music) in smaller glasses. I was also anticipating a bit more viscosity from the mead, but was again happy to find my presumption was incorrect – there was definitely a mellowing effect on the flavor coming from the honey, but it did not ‘weigh down’ the mouthfeel in any unpleasant way (you may have figured out that I don’t usually like meads).

All told, it’s a very smooth, silky drink, with plenty of great roasted flavor, but not too bitter or wine-y – perfect for after dinner (although we did things backwards and had it as a sort of starter – the vagaries of SEPTA’s scheduling force one to do odd things at times).   I’d be quite curious to try it again when it’s considerably cooler outside – if it’s on at the brewpub later this month, I may use it to help carbo-load before the Dogfish Dash 10K this year. You never know what might prove to be performance-enhancing…

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