Dogfish Head, Theobroma

Pours perfectly clear, with a slightly offwhite head that dissipates quickly. The color is golden, with a slightly copper hue. This is much lighter in appearance than I had anticipated. When you hear "chocolate" you automatically think stout or porter. This is as light as a pale ale! The aroma is earthy and full, notes of spice, floral honey, with a little tinge of alcohol and malt sweetness. The mouthfeel is full, as one might expect (can you really expect anything going into a beer like this?) with a crisp carbonation that lends it's much needed acidity. The finish is semi dry, with just a bit lingering on the back of the palate. After a few sips, there is a lingering heat on the tongue, could it be the ancho chiles? The flavors are very well integrated here, nothing is standing up and screaming "hey, I'm cocoa powder!" It is mildly sweet, with some of that spice and earthy character making it's way in. The honey is there in the front of the palate, and the spice comes in after, playing off one another nicely. The ancho chiles are actually noticable if you know what to look for, and they add a nice floral element. I hesitate to use the word "vegital" here, given that it normally is a negative descriptor. However the chiles are flavorful and delicious, lending an almost fruit-like element. The cocoa seems to be lingering somewhere in the background. Where it's most noticable is in the aftertaste, a lingering bitterness that doesn't come from hops, but from very dark chocolate. Overall I'd say the earthy character I was detecting before may be due to this very dark, bitter chocolate.

I have to say, it's a rare thing for me to say I like a Dogfish Head beer, but this one is certainly an exception. From the moment I poured it, my pre-conceived notions were thrown out the window. I think one of the best elements of this beer is that it challenges the consumer to think differently. A veteran beer snob, knowing nothing about this beer except what the label says, an "ale brewed with honey, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, ancho chiles, and ground annatto" might think as I did: this is a dark beer, a stout or a porter, with crystal and dark roasted malts. To then pour it and see that it is as light as a pale ale makes you stop and think.

Is it worth the 15 dollar price tag for a 75o ml? I'm not sure. I will say that this, next to the 60 Minute IPA, this is the only Dogfish Head beer I'd order another glass of. I guess that's saying something.