Friday, October 14, 2011

The 50th Entry: World Wide Stout: Dogfish Head Brewery

For my 50th beer review (it's actually just the 49th but shhhh don't tell anyone) I thought I'd try and opt for something huge and epic. While brainstorming ideas, a friend told me about the 18% abv World Wide Stout from Dogfish Head he'd recently consumed. And that immediately struck a chord inside. 18% and Dogfish Head: massive, epic, huge, delicious, extreme, rare; all of these words and more come to mind when thinking about Dogfish Head. The seed was then planted. I'd have to review the World Wide Stout from Dogfish Head. I'd seen it at one of my favorite local markets: PCC, but the label is rather non-descript and doesn't lead on to what is contained within. The label reads simply: A very dark beer brewed with a ridiculous amount of barley. There is nothing about the process used to produce this beer, nor is there any indication of the strength of the beer. I suppose this is why I never thought to purchase a bottle. Add in the very low price of $12 per 12 oz bottle and that is a great recipe for my not wanting to give it a try. But, after hearing about the amazingness of the brew and the belief that I should go big or go home for my 50th brew review, it was decided: I'd buy and review the World Wide Stout.

After spending a significant amount of time researching this beer, I quickly discovered that it was seemingly an apparition. And not in the sense that no one knew about it, it is widely known in the industry, but information on brewing specifications was hard to come by. For one reason or another it appears it will stay enshrouded under a veil of mystery. The usually informative Dogfish Head website would not reveal much more than the information found on the label. What kinds of malts? Hops? How long did it take to produce? What to pair it with? How long is it aged? Why is it named World Wide Stout? Finding information on this beer is nearly impossible. The only interesting bit I could find was this (courtesy of "World Wide Stout is one of the world’s strongest dark beers. It is brewed using six different yeast strains over seven months and then aged for half a year." Which specific yeast strains, and what kind of aging process remains unknown. I'll continue digging and see what I can find out.

After sampling the World Wide Stout and reading review after review of this brew, I realized this would be either one you loved or one you completely disliked. It would not be for everyone. And after the first few years of release it seems Dogfish Head has settled upon a solid recipe and it's now a consistent beer. At 18% it is mammoth and every bit detectable. But just under the highly alcoholic layer (which left my throat burning after the initial sip) there is an entire world of flavour; one layer after another. For all the reviews I've read that suggest this beer is overly sweet or lacking in complexity (perhaps they sampled a different vintage than I), I can say without a doubt that this beer was every bit as complex as I had anticipated. Even after sipping slowly, there were many flavours I probably missed. But from what my friend and I gathered, these are the tasting notes (hope you enjoy reading them half as much as we enjoyed compiling them).......

Name: World Wide Stout
Category/Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: ≈18%
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: Unknown
Bottled: 2010
Batch: F2
Bottle Size: 12 oz
Location Purchased: PCC, Issaquah, WA

The Pour: Rather dark, crimson/bourbon hues, little light passing through, red on the edges. Head is off-white slightly cream colored, retention minimal, no lacing.

The Nose: Little boozy, malty sweet, brown sugar, chocolatey, roasty notes. A little dark fruit? Figs?

The Taste: Extremely full-bodied, loads of alcohol, really sweet, heaps of dark fruit, my throat is on fire after the initial sip. A little cherry, a little cola. Quite spicy. Raisins, some dates, a bit of dark chocolate and caramel. A little salty, a little anise. A very slight bitterness way in the back. Carbonation is low. Finishes quite dry. Alcoholic notes are potent. Also a bit of smoke on the much going on this brew! It's ridiculous!

The Verdict: My friend and I really enjoyed this beer. It was a definite sipper. I do realize that reviews posted online can be quite misleading as there have been several releases of this beer. Since information is rather hard to come by I have no idea how many variations exist, but I suspect at least 4, if not more. This particular version was bottled in 2010 and the subsequent: F2 printed on the side of the bottle (I'm assuming) is in reference to the batch number. No worries, I think perhaps they have settled upon a consistent recipe. The simple way to put it: if you like huge massive beers, huge massive dark roasty boozy bourbon-like beers, this is the one for you. There are so many subtle nuances hidden in this beer. Literally layer upon layer of flavour. The bottomline: you must take your time with this. To drink quickly is to waste, and trust me, you won't want to drink quickly. It is incredibly rich and robust and packs a whopper of an alcoholic punch. After splitting a 12 oz bottle with my buddy, the one thing that is apparent is that this is not for everyone. As Dogfish Head is so famous for their "extreme brewing" this brew is no exception. If you're a lover of big beers you should definitely go find a bottle. And if you're not (unless you're extremely curious), I would pass on this one. Either way, I found it extremely complex, delicious and satisfying. The recommendations are there, make of it what you will :]

Thanks for reading!


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