Monday, January 23, 2012

Dogfish's Fort, Not for the Meek

Brewery: Dogfish Head (Milton, DE)
IBU: 49
ABV: 18%
Style: Fruit Beer

No, I haven't gone soft on you.

I know some of you that read this blog, probably just caught the "fruit beer" style and thought that perhaps Tone has lost it since the 12 Beers of Christmas countdown.

Listen, if you are going to judge before even tasting a beer, then check your ego at the door. Now, I will admit, I'm not the hugest fan of lambics or beers that a "tart" quality to them. But again, the more I write in the blog, and the more I talk to other craft beerheads, and the more I taste, err, "research", the more my taste buds are opening to new and unique styles. After all, Pumpkin Beers are in the "Fruit and Vegetable" beer category, and you know my stance on Pumpkin Ales.

Also, admittedly a fan of Dogfish Head, I had heard about this beer when my girlfriend Michelle mentioned that they had it on draft down at the Plan B Burger Bar in Milford. I also remember hearing about it before when we visited the brewery back in July, but never really looked into it. I knew it was a limited release, had something to do with raspberries and was pretty strong.

So this past Friday, we went out to one of our favorite places, Mikro... and luckily they still had a few taps left on from their Dogfish Tap Takeover on Monday. First I had the Dogfish Ta Henket (more on that later), then New England Brewing's Ghandi-Bot, and lastly ended with the focus of this post, Dogfish Fort. Served in a signature Dogfish glass, complete with laser-etched logo on the bottom. It had about an inch of white head that quickly dissipated, on top of an orange/golden color. The nose was FULL of raspberry sweetness. If you've ever had the 120 minute, imagine the love child of a raspberry lambic and a 120. Along with the fruits, you know that there's some booze, simply by the nose. Bring on the taste.

WOWZA... You know in Mike Tyson's Punch Out for Nintendo when Little Mac had a "star" and you got to punch your opponent with a really strong uppercut?? Yeah, that's what this is. Hello 18%. But I knew what I was getting into, and I'm not the least bit upset about it. It wasn't as sweet as I thought it was going to be. It had a complex mouthfeel full of malts and bready sweetness. Slightly syrupy. A sipper no doubt. If you have this on a cold winter night, you WILL be warm after a glass. After two glasses? Enter Sandman.

This beer is what I'd like to call a game-changer. After all, I found out later that it is considered the World's Strongest Fruit Beer. This little puppy clocks in at 18%. If you start your night with it, your taste buds will be somewhat shot. And chances are, you won't need too many more beers (if any) to be well on your way. It's heavy, its sweet, its rich... What a second... Desserts can be heavy, sweet, and rich... Do we have a pairing here?! While I did just have this beer on its own (because believe me, it can TOTALLY stand on its own), Head Brewmaster, Sam Caligione suggested pairing the Fort with a chocolatey dessert. Something that would match up well with fruit and maybe some dark chocolate.

I found it to be absolutely delicious. Full bodied, full flavor, boozy, mild tartness, malty... great end to the evening. Overall: A

If you can't find this on draft... snag a bottle even if you don't have any sort of event to drink it at. Given the high ABV, this will age very nicely I think. Perfect for after dinner. But, its rare - so if you see that bottle on the shelf, do NOT delay.

Earlier, I mentioned the Ta Henket from Dogfish. This beer is an absolute enigma to me. Long story, short, I bought a bottle for a New Years Eve party to share with a bunch of friends. As I poured out the beer for people, there was a definite "FUNK" that I'm not used to when it comes to beers, especially unique offerings like the Ta Henket. I don't know if the beer got skunked, but it had a tunafish smell to it. It poured a straw pale yellow color and had little to no head on it. Bottomline: The grossest beer I ever tasted/smelled. I dumped 3/4 of the bottle down the sink.

Now that being said...

I noticed that Mikro had it on draft. I was determined to give Sam and his vision of the Ta Henket another try. After a small sample, I was happily surprised with the outcome. Very light, dry... lots of champagne like carbonation... had the same color hue to it, but the taste was absolutely 180 degrees different from the last time I tried it. It was fantastic... everything that I hoped it would have been on New Years Eve.

So, if you see this on draft, I highly recommend starting your night with it. All of the light qualities make it a perfect match for a Fried Calamari, Cheese Plate, or Mussels appetizer. In the bottle... I'm not 100% sold on buying it this way. Maybe we just got a bad bottle on New Years, who knows. Sam Caligione does describe that he used wild yeasts to ferment the beer. Perhaps its just not conducive to bottling.

Monday, January 9, 2012

NBC Connecticut Visit CT's Leading Brewery: Thomas Hooker!

View more videos at:

Don't forget, 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month are Hooker's Open Houses!! 5p-8p, $10.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The skinny on beer and resolutions

I can’t watch TV recently without seeing four to five commercials, back-to-back about weight loss. Jennifer Hudson is singing about her new body, Janet Jackson is touting her new plan and Marie Osmond is trying to read cue cards through her injected lips and tucked face while her before and after photos flash on the screen. Ok, we get it - thank you media.

Well, its 2012 and everybody is setting new fitness goals and looking to shed the extra holiday cookies they indulged in.

A friend of mine said the other day, “I think I am going to quit beer while I try to get into shape and just drink wine and hard alcohol.”

This got me thinking … why is beer the bad guy? The calories in beer come from the alcohol (ABV), so what is the bottom line? Do you really save calories drinking light beer that tastes like water or suffering through vodka and soda waters all night?

I started doing some research and it’s tough to find consistent figures. Calorie counts on alcohol seem to be all over the map. There is also the old standby that all alcohol is bad when you are starting a new diet regimen … blah, blah, blah. We don’t want to give up our social life, we want to live and be healthy. Besides, studies show that moderate alcohol intake can lower cholesterol, decrease stress, aging and chronic illness. I am aware that exercise and a balanced diet produce similar benefits so do both, everything in moderation right?

I pulled all of these figures from various sites on the net so take into consideration brands, flavors, and your pour. On average here is the side by side comparison:

Shot of vodka: 70-100 calories
Shot of whiskey: 80-100 calories
Shot of tequila: 80-100 calories
Shot of Bacardi: 95-110 calories
Glass of red/white wine: 100-135 calories
Light beer: 70-110 calories
“Regular” beer: 120-160

“Regular” beer and wine are pretty close in calories, as are light beers and hard alcohol. That is if you are drinking hard alcohol alone, without soda or juice.

By comparison if I went out and chose a Sam Adams Boston lager (160 calories) instead of a Bud Light (110 calories) I am consuming 50 additional calories. Food wise that is equal to two slices of pineapple or half an apple, something that takes about 10 minutes of walking/physical activity to burn off.

My problem is that when I drink a beer that tastes like water, it usually goes down like water. When I am drinking a delicious beer with body and flavor, I take my time and enjoy it. In short, I drink fewer good tasting beers and still get more alcohol in my system, (because regular beers have a higher ABV) it's a win-win.

Treat it like a treat, because it is.

If you are someone who regularly drinks beers with a higher than normal ABV (7% or higher) those calories will add up quicker. My friend Jen and fellow craft beer lover found a great post on that breaks down the calories of beer based on the ABV. This is really easy to use and remember. Click here to check it out.

That aside, when I do reach for a light beer here are my top 5 picks:

GUINNESS 120 cals
I love Guinness. People are often shocked that this is a low calorie beer because it’s so creamy and rich. Hands down a great beer to sip and savor without feeling like you are on a diet. I would rather have this than any dessert.

I am partial to Sammy lights because I live in Boston. It’s malty, caramel toasty flavor goes down smooth and easy but has enough gusto that is not made for guzzling.

Its marketing is better than the beer, “The beer drinkers light beer,” but it’s one of the top imported beers in the U.S. and has a better flavor than most light beers out there.

This is a beer that always finds its way into my cooler when I am heading to the beach. I can only drink it with a lime as the night goes on it tastes better.

COORS LIGHT 102 cals
Don’t judge! I know I am talking about Coors light on a craft beer blog. (My co-blogger is going to kill me) Call it nostalgia, but when I know it’s going to be a long night, I nod toward Coors. The Coors Brewing Company sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and some of the freshest waters are used in its brews. Also, who doesn’t want to know when their beer is SUPER COLD! 

In 2012 resolve to be happy and healthy, without giving up what you love – BEER!!
Cheers and Happy New Year!