Dogfish Head Is Back, and Narragansett Brewing Wakes Up Your Taste Buds

dogfishIn case you’ve been under a rock, in a cave, on Mars, Dogfish Head has finally returned to the humble Ocean State after a far-too-long absence.

A few years ago, DFH pulled back distribution from a number of states, ours being one of them, of course, because they couldn’t meet the demand. Ever since, beer enthusiasts, nerds, snobs and collectors have been gnashing their teeth and looking enviously over the border at neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts where the famed IPAs of various minutes were tantalizingly out of reach. At last, the wait is over.

So, is this the same DFH that we all remember? A lot has happened since back in the day. The first difference I noticed on my 60 Minute IPA, the staple of the entire DFH line, was the bottle. The glass bears the Dogfish Head insignia, and the bottle has a distinct new curve to it reminiscent of the larger 22 oz. experimental batches DFH is known for.

Ah, but the taste … while it’s hard to exactly compare it to a beer I haven’t tasted (much) in three years, the differences are slight, if any. The hop character is there, as always, though perhaps slightly muted. This could be the nostalgia glasses kicking in, but again, it’s hard to say. The body seems a touch lighter than I remember, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, I find it as pleasurable an IPA as ever. Maybe it’s different, but it’s still a crisp, slightly tangy IPA that focuses more on the character of the hop flavor than the ever-climbing IBUs. I’m happy to have this old friend back.

Now, on to the home front. Continuing to shatter expectations is our wayward son Narragansett Brewing. Many beer snobs snub this brewing company. Some people have preconceived notions based on mass-produced watery lagers. I’ll admit, upon its initial return, I had my doubts, but I’m happy to eat my words now if I can wash them down with the Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout.

I’m always a sucker for a good coffee beer, and this is a surprisingly smooth, velvety brew with overtones of chocolate, coffee and a sweet maltiness that perfectly balances with just a hint of roasted grain flavor hidden in the mix. If you haven’t tried it, that’s probably because it flew off the shelves the second it hit them. Apparently it didn’t even have the chance to chill down in some coolers. We can only hope the company will whip up more vats of this sweet nectar, even if it does wind up keeping me up all night staring bleary-eyed at whatever’s on the Netflix queue. It is a coffee beer, so there is caffeine in it, but that just means it’s the best thing to happen to brunch since the Mimosa.

If you didn’t get a chance to try it, feel free to strongly encourage Narragansett to make more. I know I will. Hey, Narragansett! Make more!

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