Dogfish Head: Worldwide Stout (USA: Imperial Stout: 18% ABV)

(2009 bottling, drunk 2010)

Visual: Opaque dark brown black, shimmers of red if you hold a thin layer to the light. Despite my best attempts I could not tease a head out of the beer on the pour, getting merely a wet brown fizz for my troubles.  However a good swirl could raise a coffee brown froth of short life.  The swirl leaves a thin brown film across the glass

Nose: Huge liquorice, bitter coffee and chalk. Dry roasted peanuts and nuts roasting on an open fire. Sharp yet strangely musty. Sour under ripe cherries. Tiny milk chocolate and laden with raw coffee powder. Some light vanilla fudge. Predominant barley. Quite dusty.

Body: So very smooth, chocolate and black cherry, surprisingly sweet as can be. Red cherries come out as well.  Brandy liquors, sweetened porridge oats, toffee, roasted barley and oatmeal biscuits. Bourbon sweetness, chocolate gateaux. There is definitely a feel that the alcohol is not quite hidden.  Grapes.

Finish: Bitter chocolate and milk, followed by chocolate chip cookies and cookie dough. Milky coffee, raisins and whipped chocolate cream. Sour black cherries, finally dry coffee remains as the other flavours evaporate.

Conclusion:   I really thought Dogfish Head had finally let me down with this one.  The initial aroma, whilst powerful, hints at a very middle of the road bitter charred stout. I imagined disappointment awaited me ahead.

Imagine my surprise then on first tentative sip as a massive sweet chocolate and oakcake body of immense weight came through – writhing with bitter chocolate, cookie dough sweetness and blasting my expectations to smithereens.

The sour touch at the end mixes with the bitterness and sweetness, again twisting the expectations brought on by the super sweet body.

A twisty turny complex Imperial Stout that surprises at every step.  Very nice.