Friday, May 17, 2013

DOGFISH HEAD's "BIRRA ETRUSCA BRONZE"

I've got no truck with people who are "over" DOGFISH HEAD BREWING. I might agree with them that the actual fruit of Sam Colagione and his team's labors might not really be keeping pace with the rest of exploding craft beer universe In 2013, yet I still have a ton of respect with so much of the bottom-line-killing experimentation and weird brewing techniques these folks are pioneering right now. I even liked the "Brew Masters" TV show starring Sam for the few episodes that it was actually on. I'm not all that captivated with the whole notion of "ancient ales", but I'm glad that someone is.

It's a far cry from when I really threw myself into this beer thing back in 2006. Dogfish Head were at holy grail status back then. When I found my first "90-Minute IPA", it was a blessed event; a few years later, when they first started distributing to California, I was all in, and bought 'em all. Now I'm just sorta meh on their stuff, though it's always, uh, "interesting". Take for example this "BIRRA ETRUSCA BRONZE". It's modeled on an estimation of what was molecularly analyzed from samples found in drinking vessels unearthed from 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs in Italy. The DF Head worked with their Italian brewing pals at Birra Del Borgo and Baladin to figure out a recipe. The result is this beer, versions of which will be produced by each of the two Italian brewers as well.

This is honey-soaked ancient ale that tastes of white grape when it's not dosing you with honey. It has a thick mouth fell and a fruity, grapey smell. It even has myrrh in it, though I certainly wouldn't be able to pick it out, being a child of the 1970s and not 800 B.C. This "prehistoric Italian beverage from before the arrival of wine" is still beer at the end of the day, but very left-fiend. Ultimately, it's quite drinkable and pretty good. I'll give it a 7/10 and you can put that in your pipe and smoke it, OK?

2 comments:

Dave said...

Yeah I really don't like a lot of their stuff. Well it might not be me not liking it, it's just OK is a better term. Actually the last great beer I had from them was DFH Ale. Which was their 120 that didn't quite make it. Yeast wasn't doing it's thing so they messed around with it and released it at the Brewpub only. They're just falling behind IMO. It happens though.

Mark said...

I'm all for "off-centered" stuff, but on the other hand, the results of their experimentation tends to be very hit or miss. I do love a lot of their standards. 90 Minute IPA is fantastic (all the "minute" beers are good, actually), as are Burton Baton, Palo Santo Marron, World Wide Stout (with some age on it), Olde School, and a bunch of others. But then a lot of their stuff just doesn't quite work out. A lot of their newer stuff just feels weird for the sake of being weird. But when they hit up normal styles, they are pretty damn good. 90 minute is still a favorite, and I have a bunch of stuff aging in the cellar (120 minute, World Wide Stout, Olde School) that I think will actually pay off in a few years... I still try their new stuff from time to time, but again, I find a lot of it hit or miss these days. Always interesting though.