A Brew Beyond Mere Mortals
A Review of Immort Ale by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Posted on 3/13/2012 by Chops
                   
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There are times when a beer can instill intimidation by name alone. Looking at a bottle of Immort Ale by Dogfish Head, the contents would frighten me even as a mild witbier. Immort Ale demands to be thought of as an unapologetic beastly concoction. And to make matters worse, you already know that it comes from a brewery well known for making unapologetic beasty concoctions. There's a big black ''X'' on the label atop a swirl of red. The first line of the description reads ''vast in character''. Hmm. Dogfish Head might as well have placed a skull and crossbones on the label atop a huge middle finger with only the words ''move along pansy'' as a description. But as a fan of big mean beers, this would have only compounded the awesomeness. To be honest, I only saw ''Dogfish Head'' and a big black ''X'' before placing it in my basket. To my belly with you!

In the glass, Immort Ale has a deep and hazy copper coloration. It comes with a thin frothy white head that dissipates quickly even with an aggressive pour. More often times than not, we know what this means: strength, and lots of it. The complex aroma kicks off with a toasted bread crust resting on top of a mild alcohol burn. I also found lots of thick caramels and plenty of dark fruits. At this point I couldn't latch on to an expectation. To my nose, this beer smelled like a cross between a Belgian Quad and an English Barleywine. I was both nervous and intrigued going in for that first sip.

Right off the bat, the flavor profile almost perfectly matches the aroma. You are greeted with a rich toasted bread crust, compliments of those savory Belgian yeasts and smoked malt. From there you find a pungent caramel and an array of dark fruits, which are all encompassed by a surprisingly tolerable alcohol burn. Considering the aromatic complexity, I was very surprised to see how well the flavor notes lined up. There is also an earthy grainy character in the mix along with a woody base note, which I would imagine is coming from the peat-smoked barley malt. The brewing process also utilizes juniper berries, vanilla, and maple syrup from Red Brook Farm, which really helps to explain the smorgasbord of other flavors swirling around. Immort Ale has a rich and complex profile, so definitely take your time with it. I only had a single 12 oz. bottle to sample and I studied it intensely to the last drop. This brew has a surprisingly thin mouthfeel considering the richness of flavor. The finish is somewhat dry and exits quickly with a mild hop sting.

Overall, the Dogfish Head Immort Ale is an intense, unique and savory brew. But in labeling it an English Barleywine, I must apply the Dogfish Rule, which states that a beer is awesome enough to disregard traditional ratings. In all honesty, I found Immort Ale to be very challenging to describe. At a high level, it drinks more like a Belgian Quad minus the body. Consequently, I have no idea which beer camps to recommend it to, so I'm just going to recommend it to any fan of strong brews. It's highly drinkable and coupled with a respectable 11% ABV, it can be very dangerous. As Sam appropriately puts it, ''after 1 or 2 you may start feeling immortal (even though we promise you won't be).''

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Immort Ale by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
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