Redux Review 0004: Dogfish Head Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew

It has been a few months since I have done a redux review, so I though it was time to break one out and do a beer that I had a major appreciation for the first time I reviewed it — Dogfish Head’s Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, a Russian Imperial Stout that honors the 40th anniversary of the recording of Davis’ album, Bitches Brew.

While classified as a Russian Imperial Stout, this beer is actually a blend — it’s three parts Imperial Stout and one part honey beer brewed with gesho root, which is called Tej. Unveiled in mid-2010, this beer has since been brewed a second and third time; the bottle up for redux review comes from the late 2011 batch, and has six months of age on it at the time of this sampling.

If you’re not into music, Bitches Brew was a landmark album and a turning point for modern jazz; critics initially called the work, which fuses rock, jazz, and funk to be “obscure and outside.” It just seems fitting that a beer celebrating Davis’ work would be a beer of fusion, and created by a company known for unusual brews.

My first review of Bitches Brew looked like this:

Appearance: 15 of 15 points
Aroma: 14 of 15 points
Flavor and Palate: 35 of 35 points
Drinkability and Overall Experience: 35 of 35 points

Final Score: 99 points, or classic on my rating scale.

Impressive marks. I loved this beer…so the questions are, half a year later: does Bitches Brew still impress as much as it did fresh, and does age improve it?

Remembering that this poured a massive head the first time, I went gentle and only got an average size head, creamy in texture and dark tan in color. The beer had a muddy and thick body, and I couldn’t tell about particles or sediment as this beer was dark black and opaque. The lacing left behind was excellent; thick dark tan sheets all the way from top of the glass to the bottom.

On the nose, this beer presented equal parts chocolate and coffee, along with some roasted toffee sweetness. There was a bit of smoke and hints of dark fruits, which weren’t present in the first tasting. There was also a slightly medicinal aroma going on, but I’m thinking this was moreso thanks to the gesho root than any alcohol presence. The alcohol (9% ABV, or alcohol by volume, here) was completely hidden. There was also a slight hint of licorice. Quite appealing and more complex than the sample from six months ago.

And the flavors — oh my. There’s a nice coffee and chocolate mix up front, combined with an interesting light grape flavor — almost like a grape soda. This produces a thick mouthfeel, creamy, with a flat carbonation. The flavors are sweet in the middle with hints of honey, which lead to a bittersweet dark chocolate finish that hits high notes with nice coffee blasts. And the finish goes on and on, giving the tongue even more flavor — a nice smokiness and burnt toast, too. Alcohol presence is virtually absence, with only a slight warming on the swallow.

If I seem over the moon in love with this beer, that’s because I am. I love everything about it, from the aroma to the flavors, and especially what it represents. I think Dogfish Head deserve some major credit here; this is a project done in honor of a world class musician and perhaps his greatest album, and they delivered with a world class drink. If you want 90 solid minutes of enjoyment, spin Bitches Brew and crack open a bottle of this. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

I can’t wait to see how this ages after another year or two — stay tuned for THAT redux review.

So, in redux:

Appearance: 15 of 15 points
Aroma: 15 of 15 points
Flavor and Palate: 35 of 35 points
Drinkability/Overall Experience: 35 of 35 points

Dogfish Head Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, redux score of 100 points. Price: $9.99 US for a 750 ml bottle.

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