Today we take a look at another mighty brew from Dogfish Head, the Delaware outfit that has made quite the reputation for big beers. Their list includes such gems as the 120 Minute IPA, which is continually hopped for over two hours and sports an abv in the late teens, and Fort, a Belgian style ale which clocks in as the world’s strongest fruit beer. Simply put, these guys don’t muck about.
Our beer today is a further twist on Fort, which is made with tones of pureed raspberries and was first released in 2005. At around 17% abv this is an unashamedly big brew, but the brewers at Dogfish Head weren’t happy stopping there and wanted to take it to the next level. They did this by adding three more fruits (blackberry, boysenberry and elderberry) and a big wallop of Munich malt - which provides a firm backbone of deep flavours and pushes the abv a touch higher, balancing nicely with the tart fruit flavours.
Let’s take it for a test drive…
Pours an absolutely gorgeous tawny colour with a bright mahogany rim. The nose continues the Port theme but there’s both tawny and ruby notes in there with oxidised dark stewed fruits mingling with bright berry aromas. I would have sworn some cherries had made their way in there - but it must be the darker berry fruit fusing with the malt. Danggg - why did I wait so long to put it in my mouth! Holy smoke this is a truly remarkable taste experience. The fruit is most certainly there but it’s just so well integrated. I imagine this will only get better the longer you leave it!
When done right, these big beers can provide some of the most exciting drinking experiences possible.
Funnily enough though, I don’t typically go in for massive abv when searching for beers. On the other hand, I do drink a fair amount of fortified wine - which beers like this are on par with. Of course, this similarity opens up the opportunity for food matching and cellaring but, once again, these aren’t directions I often go in with beer.
The notions of putting aside to age, and matching with food really do raise the bar for any drinks product. Beer is without doubt worthy of this, but we often associate it more with general consumption and quaffing, despite its massive and arguably unparalleled current popularity. It would be great to see this change and the serious side to beer being embraced further..
So my resolution for next year will be to start cellaring beers and consuming them with food, why don’t you join me? At the end of the day - I’m sure this will be more achievable than exercising more or cutting back on the calories ;)