Dogfish Head “Black & Blue” – Belgian Style Fruit & Vegetable Ale – ABV: 10.0% – IBU: 25
Dogfish Head out of Baltimore, MD is one of my favorite brewers. The only bad experience I ever had with their products was not their fault, but the fault of my friend Jim. Jim bought me, as a gift, a 4-pack of their Palo Santo Marron, which is a hardcore heavy metal brown ale with an ABV of 12%. Jim warned me not to drink all four in one sitting, because he had made that mistake and gotten ill. And when someone tells me not to do something the 5 year old devil-child in me comes bursting out like an alien from John Hurt’s abdomen. Within the span of an hour I polished off all four and chased them down with a Trappistes Rochefort 10. An hour or two later I projectile puked in my kitchen sink. It was so intense I yelled, “Your mother sucks cocks in hell!” at the stainless steel. Did you notice how I blamed Jim for that? I told you I’m like a 5 year old. But I digress. Dogfish Head rules.
“Black & Blue” is a fruit/vegetable ale made with black raspberries and blueberries, and you won’t need anything other than the taste to convince you of its ingredients. The pour is mostly brown and blood orange, hazy, and contains a thick amount of flocculates if you dump it aggressively. A lot of people leave the last swig at the bottom of the bottle to keep the unfiltered yeast separate from the drink, but I don’t. It’s a matter of personal preference. The head is noble, off-white, with a pink tone. Lacing is silky, foamy, and very strong. The aroma is also strong, with a noticeable scent of dark berries, booze, and a funky sourness.
The flavor does exactly what the label implies: it hits you with those raspberries and blueberries and you won’t need to focus to taste it. But it is not necessarily a fruity beer like that cheap, artificial raspberry flavored swill we used to hand out at fraternity parties to the girls so they would distribute blowjobs like they were couches at a furniture outlet liquidation sale. Black & Blue is a well-balanced ale with dry, funky, tart, yeasty boozy beer flavor.
While the flavor is honorable in how fresh and organic it is, its tartness hits like a Jolly Rancher candy. It has a very watery feel in the mouth and contains a fairly high amount of champagne-like carbonation that adds a bit of creamy softness, but which unfortunately bloats my stomach a tad more than I prefer. It warms my insides and gives me a nice buzz. The aftertaste carries the same profiles as the liquid and adds just a tiny pinch of bitterness. The only complaint I have about the aftertaste is that it leaves a bit of stickiness behind and makes me salivate.
Not all of Dogfish Head’s selections are mind-blowingly awesome, but they have so damned many options, their distributorship is fairly widespread, and their pricing is overall excellent. They respect the community, they take pride in their craft, and they want to share their work with everyone. Black & Blue, like the “Worldwide Stout” I reviewed in January, is a part of their “occasional rarities” collection. It’s not easy to find, and it isn’t one that I myself would seek out again, but that’s due to my personal palate. I’m very sensitive to sour, tart, and dry flavors. The style is simply not my cup of tea (or beer). But I wouldn’t turn one down if someone handed it to me, and I’ll be damned if this example of the style isn’t an impressive and unique concoction. Good form, Dogfish Head. Good form, indeed.