Beer Review 0178: Dogfish Head Black & Blue

(A note before the review: the Dogfish website lists this beer as being fermented with blackberries and blueberries. However, the bottle says “black raspberries,” and I’m going with the bottle.)

Each year, Dogfish Head, located in Milton, Delaware, produce two limited release fruit beers. Both of the beers are brewed the same way, of the same style (Belgian Golden Ales, or Wheat Beers, depending on which day you ask founder Sam Calagione). The differences between the beers come with the fruit used and the process that takes place after they are brewed.

Red & White (95 points) is brewed with coriander and orange peel, then fermented with Pinot Noir juice, and part of the brew is aged on Pinot Noir barrels, while the other part gets an oak stave treatment. As far as fruit beers go, this is my absolute favorite, until a new favorite comes along…

The other fruit beer in Dogfish’s lineup, Black & Blue, uses black raspberry and blueberry puree, and doesn’t get any of the barrel or stave treatment.

According to Dogfish, many other breweries that make fruit beers use artificial ingredients, which make the fruit more of an aromatic rather than a taste found within the drink. Dogfish uses high quality, natural ingredients; as such, the yeast in the beer feeds on the natural sugars found in the black raspberries and blueberries, marrying the fruit flavor into the beer and producing a high alcohol beverage (10% ABV, or alcohol by volume, on this one).

This beer typically hits bottle shops each April, but I have noticed here lately that Dogfish are about one month behind on their release dates. You might still be able to find bottles of this available, and if you do, scoop it up because they tend to go fast.

The pour yielded an average size head, frothy in texture and lasting. The color of this beer was a deep amber, almost red, clear in body with no particles or sediment. Tons of carbonation bubbles zoomed to the top of the drink, and the lacing left behind was fair in amount, with some wispy off-white suds clinging to the glass.

The aromatics featured huge fruit notes of fresh blueberries and raspberries. You can absolutely tell that Dogfish put high quality ingredients into this beer, as the berries don’t smell artificial at all. Underlying scents feature a decent amount of grain, some sweet caramel malt, and a musty yeast. Pleasant but not overly complex.

On the tastebuds, this one delivers grainy and fruity berry flavors up front, mostly raspberry. The berries are vibrant with caramel malt in the middle, which is nice against a tart and almost sour finish. The texture of the beer was thin and this one dried my mouth out, thanks to the moderate to high amount of sweetness present. And the high ABV? It’s completely hidden in taste and warmth — there’s no inkling of it in the flavor, and I didn’t feel an alcohol burn whatsoever.

Dogfish have made an impressive fruit beer, and I’d love to have another bottle of this to lay down for a year or more and see how it ages. This has great flavors and drinks more like a wine than a beer — like so many of Dogfish’s beers, you could take this one to your next dinner party where guests are expecting wine and shock the hell out of them.

Dogfish Head Black & Blue, 89 points. Price: $12.99 US for one 750 ml bottle.

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