First up was Aprihop, a beer previously reviewed on this very site. Let me repeat what I wrote in that review: I wish this beer was available the entire year. It is damn fine hoppybeer, and the apricots complement the bitterness of the hops. This is the beer that Magic Hat #9 aspires to be, yet does not come close to being.
The next beer was Burton Baton. This beer is a blend of English Style Old Ale and an Imperial IPA, which is then aged in oak barrels. The vanilla from the oak muted the 10% ABV burn, making this a smooth drinking beer. This was my favorite Dogfish Head beer of the night, 8.5/10.
Chateau Jiahu is another in Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales series. Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales are recreations/modernizations of beers based on findings from archeological digs. The Chateau Jiahu is based on 9,000 year old residue from pottery found in Northern China. This was my first time tasting this beer, and probably my last. It was sweet and fruity, with some honey and sweet oranges noticeable in the taste, and some mango and banana as well. It was more wine than beer, and just not my cup of tea, 5/10. I like that Dogfish Head goes to the effort of recreating and updating these beers from the ancient world, I just don’t like the brews all that much.
Next up was the Red & White. This is what Dogfish Head does best: Take a traditional style of beer and then ignore the rules, forging something brand new. The Red & White is a witbier, brewed with orange peel, coriander and pinot noir juice, and then aged in oak barrels. It is light on the palate, yet still complex, and very refreshing, 8/10.
The last Dogfish Head of the night was the Palo Santo Marron. This a high alcohol (12% ABV!) brown ale which is aged in barrels made from Paraguayan Palo Santo wood, giving the beer a unique caramel-vanilla flavor. Roasted malts are the dominant flavor here. The Palo Santo Marron should be sipped slowly from a snifter, preferably while dining on a thick and perfectly grilled Ribeye Steak, 8/10.
As pleased as I was with the Dogfish Head beers, the beer of the night, and a contender for beer of the year, was Real Ale’s barrel-aged Empire IPA. Cloudy and pale orange in color, with floral and citrus hops, and some oak from the barrel aging, this beer was fantastic, 9.5/10, and unfortunately, exceedingly rare, as it has already disappeared from bars around town.