March 16, 2012 by Matthew.Hartshorne
The beer that I picked up this week is from a brewery that has a reputation for brewing odd and extreme beers. The American champion in this category is Dogfish Head Brewery, but over in Scotland the reigning champ is BrewDog. This brewery is best known for making the world’s second-most alcoholic beer, End of History, every bottle of which came inside a taxidermied rodent; — seriously, Google it; the pictures are ridiculous. However, End of History, which is sold out, costs $800 per bottle (if you want the grey squirrel, they cost $1200), so I got the more affordable Dogma instead.
Dogma is a rather odd beer, even by American standards. This beer is a modification of a Scotch Ale but is brewed with largely English malts and both English (Bramling Cross) and American (Amarillo) hops. Where this beer becomes really unique is the use of guarana, poppy seeds, kola nuts and Scottish heather honey. Of special note are the kola nut and guarana additions, both of which contain caffeine.
The beer poured a hazy, fairly dark gold color. About a finger of dark tan head formed and dissipated quickly but left behind good lacing. There was almost no aroma except for a noticeable alcohol presence. The beer was highly carbonated with a sharp character to it that packed a surprising bite and a fairly low body, which gave it a very thin mouthfeel. The taste was very bitter, starting immediately and continuing the whole way up to the very dry finish. There was an almost stout character, which I did not expect due to the color, but it provided a bit of depth with roasty finish. What really surprised me was how much this beer was like a Russian imperial stout, although the malt character was much less intense, and it lacked any sort of hop aroma. The interesting part of the flavor was a very herbal character, of which I wasn’t a fan. In retrospect I would place this beer as somewhere related to green chartreuse, although people more familiar with that liquor may disagree.
The beer actually paired quite well with cheddar cheese, which partially offset the bitterness. Gouda, however, and slices of apples both clashed with the herbal character, leaving a weird taste behind. I’m honestly not sure what else to pair with this beer given how bitter it is, but it may go well with fairly sweet and salty things.
Overall, I did not like this beer. I found the herbal character to be very grating given the dry and roasty malt profile, and the bitterness just put it way over the top. Basically, Dogma distilled everything that I don’t really like about several different beer styles into a single beer and then tried to ride the Four Loko caffeine gimmick. That being said, shortly after I tried it, one of my friends independently asked me to find some for her because it was the only beer she liked. But then, she prefers Red Bull and vodka over a good beer, so maybe BrewDog hit its target audience perfectly.