How would you like to try a beer that is brewed by a brewery that has existed for over 1000 years? How about drinking a beer that was brewed somewhere around 3200 years ago? How about both?
Dogfish Head Theobroma was the first brew we tried. It is part of their Ancient Ale series along with Midas Touch and Chateau Jiahu. The recipe for Theobroma ("Food of the Gods") is extrapolated from chemical analysis from pottery fragments that held the beverage (or something like it) from before 1100 BC in Honduras. The discovery of this beverage gives us a chance to drink something that ancient South American civilizations drank over 3200 years ago. It also pushed back the earliest known use of cocoa for human consumption by approximately 500 years, which is pretty damn cool for a US microbrewery to learn in my opinion.
This chocolate drink was used to toast special occasions and was intended for the gods, kings, and the elite (as per the bottle). It pours bright gold with a wisp of carbonation that is quickly dissipated. I actually surprised Ramsey since he, and most people, would assume that a chocolate ale would be brown in color. The initial aroma from the bottle is that of chocolate milk, but that also quickly fades. The aroma in the glass is slight alcohol and even slighter honey. The taste doesn't overpower with any one flavor (besides the very apparent alcoholic burn). Neither of us could pick out chocolate per se, but it did have notes of cocoa, ancho chilies, and honey.
This ale reminded me of Midas Touch Golden Elixer, also brewed by Dogfish Head and also an Ancient Ale. The bottle was marked bottled in 2010A so it may be that over time with aging the alcohol burn would fade and some of the other flavors may become more apparent.
Go watch Dogfish Head's Quick Sip Clip on Theobroma's website for some information on the brewing process, the molecular anthropologist, and monkey parties.
Schloss Eggenberg Doppelbock Dunkel from Vorchdorf, Austria was beer #2 in our lineup tonight. Not only is the name a mouthful, but it's STBB's first import review (yay!) and expensive as hell. It was $14.49 for a 4-pack at a wine and liquor store in Florida.
So here is my theory on this beer, tell me what you think. On the bottle it's labeled as a "malt liquor" and is imported to Virginia. If you are a brewery in Austria and you are importing to the USA, you would want to save some money and print only one style of label. Certain states require beer above a certain ABV to be labeled as malt liquor instead of beer. Texas is not one of those states. So this beer is probably only available on east coast states that have the "malt liquor" label regulation. How's that theory?
Here's another interesting tidbit: Doppelbock and Dunkel are two different styles of beer. Both are malty, strong, dark lagers originated in Bavaria. It is interesting to me that this beer is listed as a "doppelbock dunkel" on the label.
Anyway, this beer is pretty straightforward. Pours dark with a light-brown head that retains a little bit as you drink it down the glass. Aroma is malty and roasted with no fruit or spice notes. My taste buds picked up sweet malt with a hop balance on the back end. I also detect caramel and roasted coffee flavors with each sip, with the roasted and bitter flavors coming through as it warms. I almost want to say that I taste candy flavoring, like a burnt version of Werther's Original caramel.
Schloss Eggenberg, by the way, has been "mentioned" over 1000 years ago (in the year 971 to be exact). Their "liquid bread" was brewed for the inhabitants of that area at that time. The family Forstinger-Stöhr has possessed the brewery for over 200 years and has since been constantly developed and modernized by their ancestors.
The Bottom Line: Both beers tasted tonight are higher alcohol "ancient" ales with interesting style definitions. They both were interesting examples of how beer can change and evolve, yet really stay the same, over the centuries. If you can picture an ancient Aztec lord toasting to this golden chocolate ale or a Bavarian family traveling to the brewery for their weekly beer, you will appreciate both of these ales. The Theobroma was $13.99 for approximately 2 pints (1 pt. 9.6 fl. oz) and the Doppelbock Dunkel was $14.49 for a 4-pack, so be prepared to spend some money to live like the ancients. I would say that both are one to try once. Maybe sit outside and look at the stars while you slowly imbibe, maybe chew on a sugar cane, or maybe drink it in a hotel room while discussing computer programming information (like me). You, the craft drinker, will enjoy this beer anyway.
Special Ingredients: honey, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, ancho chilies & ground annatto (tree seeds)