Flesh & Blood IPA
I have a complicated history with Dogfish Head Brewery.
Well, not the actual brewery itself, because I’ve never been there and I know nobody who has ever worked at their facilities. My history is with their beer, which is as up front and in your face as the bold serif text gracing its bottles and cans, and the “dogfish” logo stamped on everything, as if to say “Here, we just did this. Drink now.”
Dogfish Head wants you to know what goes into its beer, and it never seems to care what you think about it. Heck, this review probably means nothing to them.
I’m diametrically opposed to that sort of alpha-male, feel-the-rush kind of mentality. I don’t like extreme sports or loud, direct propaganda. Heck, my second-least-favorite character in the Seinfeld canon is Tony, the cartoonish extreme-sports “mimbo” George fought so hard to befriend (Kathy Griffin’s Sally Weaver will forever be the worst).
To me, Dogfish Head is the Tony of beer culture. He’s really cool, been around forever and you know the type, but broski, can you tone it down a little?
That’s always clouded my judgment of Dogfish Head. They’re pioneers, worthy of being in Mount Rushmore of this new craft beer age, but they’ve always felt just out of reach for the social me. Maybe I wasn’t cool enough for them. Or maybe their idea of cool just wasn’t my idea of cool.
Still, I obviously have strong nostalgic feelings for 90 Minute IPA, literally a milestone in brewing culture. I like 60 just as much, and I soaked in every second of my first 120 moment. I really like Indian Brown, the first great American brown I ever tasted.
Basically, Dogfish Head tempered down a Manhattan and canned it for mass distribution.”
Well, here’s Flesh & Blood IPA. As usual, Dogfish tells us exactly what they’re doing here: “A well-hopped IPA brewed with orange peel, lemon flesh, and blood orange juice.” Well, there you go. I’m expecting a bomb here, a juicy, quenching, even puckery beer with nice back-end hops.
Nope. Not at all. This is Dogfish head turning every New England IPA on its head, laughing in its face and throwing up the shaka, just like a mimbo.
It pours a burnt orange (one would even say Longhorn orange) with a gorgeous, thick cream-colored head, and smells more like caramel than citrus, though on a second tasting hops were more in front. And it doesn’t taste like your typical NEIPA – you’re not bombarded by Citra or really any fruit taste.
Instead – and forget what the can tells you – you have a drinkable, well-rounded IPA with hints of blood orange, and a deep malt character that throws you completely off the scent. Basically, Dogfish Head tempered down a Manhattan and canned it for mass distribution.
That leads me to recast my problem historically with Dogfish Head. I’m expecting, or even craving, something that turns out far different than those expectations. I see a brilliant red can with cartoon fruit and hops and think “Oh boy, the masters are taking a trip up 95 North!” and instead get another wacky thing that ultimately isn’t amazing or bad. It’s just Dogfish Head.
That’s how they do it. And now I accept that, broski.