Beer Review 0083: Dogfish Head World Wide Stout

Strap your seatbelt on, because this is a big beer!

World Wide Stout is brewed by Dogfish Head, who operate out of Milton, Delaware. First brewed in 1999, this beer came to be as result of the brewers sitting around after tourists and patrons to the Rehoboth Beach brewpub had all went home one evening. The challenge was thrown out, “Let’s make the strongest beer in the world!” World Wide Stout was the result — it came out, as it does today, around 18% ABV (alcohol by volume).

The beer was the strongest in the world at that time, and remained so for a few months until Samuel Adams brewed something a bit stronger. (The “record,” if you want to call it that, has changed hands between several different breweries since then.)

With a strong beer like this, we have to talk about aging — World Wide Stout is a perfect candidate for laying down, and you can let this one rest for several years. The bottle I am reviewing has 13 months of age (bottled December 2010). Dogfish says that the longer you let World Wide Stout age, the better; the high alcohol content will soften, allowing the drink to take on more of a port like character. Remember to store your ageable ales in a cool, dark place.

Dogfish Head have produced some of the highest rated beers this website has featured: Bitches Brew (99 points), 90 Minute IPA (97 points), 60 Minute IPA (95 points), and Indian Brown Ale (94 points).

The 2011 version of World Wide Stout is a little late; the release is supposed to happen before the last week of January 2012. If you can get this beer in your area, you might want to scoop it up, because Dogfish is putting this one on hiatus after the next release.

But, we gotta try it before we know if we want more, right? Remember, this bottle has been aged, so a fresh bottle might be slightly different…

Unleashing the beast produced a very dark black beer, which was actually deep violet when held to the light. Not quite red wine purple, but a dull purple with almost tawny brown highlights. The head was quite small and quickly vanished, as expected with such a high alcohol beer. The edges of the beer were translucent and I didn’t see any particles or sediment, so this must be a filtered beer. There were a few bits of lacing left behind, but not enough to really call it ‘lacing.’

The aroma was a total solvent bomb; we’re talking heavy paint/paint thinner fumes here. Other aromas are wood, a bit of chocolate, and some dark fruits — plums, and raisins — almost like a fruitcake. I wasn’t very impressed by the aroma; I thought the solid solvent base was a bit overwhelming. But with 18% ABV, you almost have to expect that.

On the palate, World Wide Stout is as complex a beer as you’ll probably ever taste. It starts with a load of dark fruit, figs, raisins, prunes… and your tongue is initially greeted by the carbonation, which I only rated as “average” on my review sheet, but is very high for this style of beer. And I’m glad it’s high, because I thought it really added a much needed prickliness to the mouthfeel. Other flavors greet you in the middle of the taste and the finish: licorice, vanilla, wood, chocolate, and coffee. The mouthfeel is creamy and thick, but not overly thick. As the beer warmed, the coffee note on the finish got stronger, and when combined with the woodiness and vanilla, it was a slice of heaven.

The flavor of this beer is to die for. This is truly the ultimate dessert beer, and I gave it a perfect score in flavor.

As a complete package, World Wide Stout is surprisingly very drinkable. I think this is a must try for all craft beer enthusiasts. This is a sipping beer and it does open up more as it warms. The downside, to me, is the aroma and the fact that it is 18% ABV. You’ll want to have someone to share this one with — I don’t care how big of an individual you are (your body or your ego) this beer will put you down for the count. That being said, I don’t think this beer is for everyone. And this is a hard beer to judge, because it is such an extreme brew.

Remember, the score reflects the overall picture, not just the taste…

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, 86 points. Price: $9.95 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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