Sunday, January 13, 2013

From the Cellar: Dogfish Head Raison D'EXTRA

I like my Dogfish Head beers. Sure, Dogfish is hyped to death, but the fact is, I respect their reckless experimentation. It's one of the things that appeal to me as a beer geek.

Among those experiments are Dogfish Head Raison D'EXTRA, a super-boozed-up version of their Raison D'Etre. Brewed just once (as best as I can tell), the EXTRA version was a whopping 18% ABV! At the time of release, that made it one of the strongest beers in the world. In fact, even today it would rank among the strongest naturally fermented beers in the world. (The strongest beers in the world are not always naturally fermented.)

So five years after being brewed -- this was tasted and written in 2012 -- how did this mega brew hold up?

Pretty well. There was barely any carbonation on the pour. Not surprising given the ABV and age; beers this high in alcohol and/or this old rarely retain a lot of carbonation. Poured like a fine port.

The aroma was nutty, laden with almonds and fat malt sweetness. If there were ever any hops here, they're long gone. No yeast spice, either. The same holds true in the taste. This drank like a red wine, only with deep dark nut flavors. Notes of sherry abounded. The surprising thing was, despite being 18% ABV this beer was warming but not "hot." The booze was quite mellow.

Verdict? Not transcendent, but quite interesting. If I get another bottle I'll be trying it three years from, now to see how it is.

Despite being brewed just once five years ago, this beer is sometimes still available on shelves where it did not sell well. A message to any beer trading message board should net you some offers.

BEER: Dogfish Head Raison D'EXTRA
TIME AGED: 5 years
NOTES: No carbonation, nuts + sherry. Pair with a meal.

VERDICT: Nice experience, but don't knock yourself out trying to find out

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