It’s been a while since we’ve punched that Dogfish Head ticket. After all the yeast schenanigans and beer dumping on Brewmasters, it is good to see something end up in the bottle again. We can, however, add this one to a long list of tasty and interesting beers, including Raison d’Extra, Dogfish Head/Victory/Stone Saison du Buff collabo, Immort Ale 2009, Chicory Stout, Theobroma, 120 Minute IPA, Festina Peche, Squall IPA, Burton Baton Oak Aged Imperial IPA, and Sah’tea.
Pouring a dirty hazy gold, Robert Johnson’s Hellhound on My Ale has a decent white head that slowly fades to a brief covering, but it does lace up the glass rather impressively along the way. The citrus sourness of the Centennial hops comes through clearly in the nose; behind that, there is a bit of bright candy sweetness and some lemon citrus zest along with a touch of alcohol aroma buried all the way in the back. In the front of the beer, there is a fair amount of spicy malt sweetness; the malt is pretty unobtrusive. Either that, or covered over by the hops. The middle does feature some candy-like sweetness and a whole mess of bitterness mixed with floral, citrus, and spicy hop flavor, while the finish is bright with lingering bitterness and just a hint of lemon and some alcohol warmth. The beer is medium to heavy in mouthfeel, but everything in the flavor profile tends towards brightness and lightness, counteracting a fair share of actual heaviness. There is also some alcohol warmth, but the bitterness, spicy hop flavor, and carbonation does hide a decent amount of it. It does creep in, though, especially after all of the flavors have left the palate, and you’re left with just the warmth on the back of your throat. It is a 10.0% beer, however, and I wouldn’t hold out on this one, as the real strength is the hop flavor and character of the beer. Actually, this is one of Dogfish Head’s more drinkable big beers—there is character and balance here. Elli likes it for its front to back hop presence, and I have to concur—it goes down smooth and easy. Too easy for a beer this big.
From the bottle: “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. Dogfish Head pays tribute to this blues legend by gettin’ the hellhounds off his trail into this finely-crafted ale. Hellhound is a super-hoppy ale hits 100 IBUs in the brewhouse, 10.0% ABV, 10.0 SRM in color, and dry-hopped with 100% Centennial hops at a rate of 100 kilos per 100 barrel brew-length. To accentuate and magnify the citrusy notes of the Centennial hops (and as a shout out to Robert Johnson’s mentor Blind Lemon Jefferson) we add dried lemon and flesh to the whirlpool. To read more about Robert Johnson go to www.robertjohnsonhellhoundale.com.”
P.S. Is it too much to ask for a scarier hellhound? It could just as well be good ol’ Barky on fire...