If you’ve been reading this column regularly over the past 17 years, you’ll probably have noticed that one thing I rarely do is write negatively about anything.
I don’t really review beers, and if I do in any way, I only do so if I enjoy them. This is because tastes are subjective and what I may find displeasing might be really tasty to someone else. It’s like any creative endeavor: I may love a certain book or film or song, and you may hate it. It’s just the way it is with anything that isn’t based on empirical data. (A certified beer, for example, can tell you if a beer is well-made according to the style it’s in, but their opinions mean nothing when it comes you whether you should like it or not.)
I thought of doing this as a beer profile, but I think the nuances would be lost. Comparing years on any beer is a special form of analysis. I used to think of 120 as an overly hoppy, somewhat barley wine-ish brew. I was skeptical when they claimed it ages well. I decided to test that. I am VERY happy to report I was wrong… sort of.
Before I even tasted them, smelled them, savored them, I added this caveat: I find hops tend not to age well when they become the focus. A little cardboard is one thing among the sweet, flavor-filled, well aged Bigfoot or Foghorn. I find it adds texture, a pleasantness. But when hops are THE balance factor, unless you’re brewing one of those Belgian brews that use specific type of hops that age well, uh, no. I have done assessments of up to 10 different years of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. Thomas Hardy too. I have an almost 20 year bottle of Hardy Big Bob gave me from Big Bob’s Barleywine Bash just before he died. Some day we’ll savor it. Almost hate to: once it’s gone that’s it. Like Big Bob dying all over again.
So let’s see how aged 120’s stack up. BARELY aged. Not sure I’d want a 20 year 120 due to hops, but I’d be open to the experience. My original plan was to have 3, but Midtown in Nashville stocked them wrong. They had them labeled as 17, 18 and 20. I ended up with 2 2020’s and one 2016. But 2 days later found a 2019. So 16 v. 19 v. 20.
The comparison was, well, educational. We’ll start with mutual characteristics, then move on to 2020, and from there go back in time.
No fermentation characteristics in any of them. Two of them have a dry, yet slightly sweet, sense to them. Makes for an interesting balance, enticing. One? Well, we’ll get to that. I do have a question: does Dogfish vary they recipe for 120? That might explain the 2019.
Let’s see what 1 year, then 4 years, does to 120. Continue reading “Comparison: 2016, 2019 and 2020 Dogfish 120”