Beer Review 0091: Dogfish Head Chicory Stout

Chicory Stout is a winter seasonal brewed by Dogfish Head Brewery, in Milton, Delaware. This was one of the first beers made by Dogfish and has roots all the way back to 1995, when Dogfish founder Sam Calagione was brewing nearly nonstop in order to keep the Rehoboth Beach brewpub stocked.

Getting bored brewing with the same ingredients over and over, Sam threw some nontraditional ingredients into this beer: roasted chicory, organic Mexican coffee, St. John’s Wort, and licorice root. Yes, this might be the only beer that has anti-depression characteristics.

This one comes in at relatively low alcohol for Dogfish beers. At 5.2% ABV (alcohol by volume), this is a Stout you could session all night. And although this beer is only available in bottles in November and December, Dogfish does brew a small amount throughout the year to keep on tap at their brewpub.

The pour produced an average size light tan head with a creamy texture and a lasting quality. The liquid itself was a very dark brown, verging on black, and free of particles or sediment. The lacing was good while sipping but it never stuck to the glass.

The aromatics leaned mostly toward the malts, as expected. There was a strong coffee note, almost burnt, and a general roasted scent. This one had some nice dark chocolate aromas going on, and just a very faint hint of smoke. While the malts were complex, I thought the overall aroma category was a disappointment; as the beer warmed, those nice smells that were there when first poured almost completely disappeared.

The tongue is treated to mainly a coffee flavor, which is enhanced greatly by the chicory, making it deeper and taking it a step beyond just simply black coffee. It’s rich and almost goes into some creamy chocolate notes, but never really fully explores this area. I’d bet this beer would pair well with some high quality chocolates. The finish is more of the coffee and a fully pronounced licorice note. The mouthfeel was a tad thin for my liking but it did have a silky texture.

Chicory Stout is an easy drinking Stout for sure, but when I think of Stout, I think STOUT. As in, strong flavors. While the coffee found here is quite strong, it just seems to be lacking in complexity and only teases you with some other flavors that when combined with the coffee, could be a real hit.

I could see this being a good introduction to Stout, especially with the low ABV. If you can get it, I would pick it up and try it — but I don’t know if I would return to it again if I had another choice.

Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, 82 points. Price: $8.99 US for a four pack.

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