I spent this last weekend playing in an Open level tennis tournament with my friend Will, and we ended up taking 2nd. So, I didn’t give my beer drinking the normal attention it’s accustomed. That doesn’t mean I didn’t drink beer last weekend, but I wasn’t focused on critiquing - I was focused on relaxing after a match. Since I like to give the utmost respect and focus to a beer when I review it, I waited to review this week’s beer - Dogfish Head’s Hellhound on My Ale.
On Dogfish’s website they have this to say about the Hellhound (click here for a longer description):
2011 marks the 100th birthday of Mississippi Delta bluesman Robert Johnson who, according to legend, sold his soul down at the crossroads in a midnight bargain and changed music forever. Working again with our friends at Sony Legacy (yup, the same folks we did our Miles Davis-inspired Bitches Brew with), Dogfish Head pays tribute to this blues legend by gettin the hellhounds off his trail and into this finely-crafted ale.
When I hear things like, “100 IBUs”, “10.0 ABV”, and anything that describes ridiculous hoppege - I get excited. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have high expectations for this ale. The Hellhound poured a nice thick creamy white head that lingered well, and layered the glass perfectly. The color is a golden honey with a slight haze, and the carbonation is noticeable. Head - 10, Look - 14. The smell was a strong hop aroma (I wonder why?) There’s a presence of orange tartness followed by the added lemon. In other words, the citrus notes are unreal. After having the ale breathe for a bit, there’s almost a citrus sourness that hits the nose. The malt and alcohol provide a bit of a sugar sweet smell, but it’s rather mild. Smell - 23.5.
The look of the Hellhound kept my expectations high, but the smell of it gave me more of a curiosity than excitement. So, there was only one way to get rid of that curiosity. The Hellhound hit the palate with a strong carbonated bite (bubbles), which was quickly followed by a citrus tartness - specifically lemon. In the finish, the alcohol made itself known. The aftertaste was bitter and dry like expected, but there was almost a lemonade sweetness wound in with the bitterness by the malt. There’s a bit of a warmness from the alcohol, but nothing substantial. Palate - 8.5, Aftertaste - 9. After several more drinks the lemon comes through more and more with a piney hoppiness. There is a light caramel sweetness from the malt, which makes this 10 ABV beer very drinkable. The hops do really steal the show, so if hops are your thing, especially the intensity of Centennial hops, you’ll find this beer very drinkable. If you’re not a fan of heavily hopped beers, why the hell are you drinking this? But, in all seriousness, this might be something you only have a small amount of. Flavor - 27.5
Hellhound on My Ale is what I expected from Dogfish Head - a great tasting interesting beer. It isn’t my favorite thing by them, but it something I’m happy I tried, and it’s a fantastic brew. The problem with a brewery that makes so many fantastic beers is that when a beer of theirs doesn’t blow my mind I’m a little ho hum about it. When the reality is this beer is a great ale that is par for the course with Dogfish Head’s track record of unique delicious ales. If you can find yourself a bottle of this hopped to death citrus monster, pick it up, share with a friend, and maybe throw on some Delta Blues. With an Overall Flavor of 45/50 the Beer Fusion gives Dogfish Head’s Hellhound on My Ale....