Thursday, 19 July 2012

#58: Alpha Dawg, Guinness Black Lager

Alpha Dawg is a limited edition IPA brewed by the Franciscan Well and released around three months ago, and it's only now that I'm getting my hands on it. I wasn't extremely excited for this one, to be honest, but I felt I couldn't risk having it disappear from the shelves without so much as having a sniff.

Good choice.

Alpha Dawg looks beautiful in the glass, with a hazy amber-golden hue and a tiny white head that had to be forced. After the beer warmed up from it's recommended 8 degrees, it produced a much more generous foamy cap. On the nose it's pretty much the hop domination you'd expect, with a fresh grassy smell complimenting the inevitable citrus peel and pine notes. Very 'West Coast' IPA. I have to say though, the aroma is pretty weak when served at the recommended temperature, so lots of the more interesting stuff happens when it warms up - lemon becomes discernible from the rest of the fruit and a sticky caramel and honey sweetness develops. On tasting you'll find more fruity hops offering grapefruit and juicy peel, a caramel sweetness follow-up, and a bread malt and nutty quality hiding in the background. This finish leaves a nice bitter kick that lingers for ages. Once again, things get even more interesting when the beer warms to room temperature. The malt character becomes more potent, there's a candy/bubblegum taste that's the strongest I've had in any beer before, and there's a nice syrupy sweet finish that's still kept in check by the bitter bite. I swear, there's a Strong Pale Ale hiding in there somewhere, and it only comes out to play in the warmth. Maybe this is down to the (not-so) freshness of the bottle. 

This is a gorgeous IPA and if it wasn't €10 a pop, I'd definitely stock up.

Guinness Black Lager appears here as a side-note. I was wrong earlier when I said you'd have to commit to a four-pack to try it, as it turns out I got a lonely bottle for a reasonable €1.80. Guinness want you to drink this ice cold and from the bottle. Well, they would, wouldn't they. Chilled, yes, but I had to get this in a glass. Lo and behold, it looks just like a lager, but black. A one-finger head disappears almost immediately. The smell is that of your average macro lager, as is the taste. On the bottle, we're promised 'the refreshing taste of lager with the unique character of Guinness'. I think they're trying to imply there's a roasted malt character to the beer, and there may be a tiny hint of a touch of a clue of roasted malt, but it's not at all strong enough to get noticed above the overpowering sting of metal. It's like drinking tin foil, if you get me.

I scoffed at this when I saw it on the shelf, and was then overwhelmed with snobby guilt. I felt I had to give it a chance. I did, and while it's not the worst thing I've had, it's just not enjoyable for me. I look for more in a beer.

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