Brew Blog: Dogfish Head Squall IPA

I've trained my eight-year-old daughter to pick out beer for me. I'll pause a moment to allow you to gasp, if you want to. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .

There, that ought to do it. Just so you know, it wasn't on purpose. Nonetheless, I consider it a point of pride. I found out quite by accident, actually, that she had been paying attention to my beer selections. I have a play-date to thank.

She had spent the day at a friend's house. The host-mom had invited my wife and me to head over in the evening, to sit out on the patio and have a few beers while the kids played a bit longer. She would provide the beer, she said. This made me nervous. Despite being a wonderful mother and a delightful person, she has terrible taste in beer. I figured I was doomed to the Bud Light of her preference. My kid saved the day.

As they walked through the grocery store, the mom wondered aloud what kind of beer I liked. My daughter, bless her little heart, chirped excitedly, glad to have some secret knowledge of something so adult. "Dogfish Head! I think he likes the one with extra raisins."

She did her papa proud, but I must admit it was a bit odd. See, I don't drink a whole lot of Dogfish Head, so I'm not sure exactly why that's what she came up with. Perhaps it's the very odd name (the mom thought she was making it up, at first, and was somewhat nonplussed to find it actually existed), or perhaps I'd had some around the house recently. Either way, it was a pleasant surprise to make it over to our friend's house and find decent beer awaiting me. Hooray for observant children.

That story crossed my mind recently, as I opened a bottle of Squall IPA that had been stashed in the back of my fridge for some months. I pointed it out to my daughter, who grinned in recognition, and poured a glass. Astonishingly, it was crystal clear, with a slightly red-tinted bronze color. A solid inch head held on for quite a while, before reducing to a thick, foamy cap.

Why was this astonishing? Squall is an unfiltered beer, that's why. The second pour made up for it, though, cloudier than Bespin on a nasty day (and the dork meter runs freely).

The nose is also a bit of a surprise, showing less hops than I'd expect from a 90-minute dry-hopped brew. Caramel comes on first, thick and rich, with pine notes creeping in slowly, starting off as a resinous echo, then freshening up. It's much maltier than I expected, but in a good way.

The first sip is much the same, hitting with a rich, toffee-tinged and almost chocolaty oomph. That rounds into very concentrated dark fruit and bready malt, with a big kick of orange that has a bit of a flowery aura to it.

That mix of resinous and fresh pine hops comes in at the end, but is still less forceful than expected. It works really well with the malty and rich qualities, also adding a spicy, peppery kick. The close is finally, strikingly bitter, reminding me that this is, after all, a 90-minute IPA.

I remember years ago, before I was turned to the dark side of high IBU beers, I got a single 12oz. bottle of Dogfish 120-minute IPA. I remember it being one of the more unpleasant beer experiences of my life, overwhelming in character, and not in a good way. That, to be honest, is kind of what I expected here. Who knows? Maybe it's the bottle conditioning, or perhaps the fact that I had (inadvertently) put some age on the beer. Either way, this was a delicious, unexpected, and interesting beer.

Next time my daughter gets asked which beer I like, maybe she'll suggest this one. That'd be just fine by me.

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Nicholas L. Hall is a husband and father who earns his keep playing a video game that controls the U.S. power grid. He also writes for the Houston Press about food, booze and music, in an attempt to keep the demons at bay. When he's not busy keeping your lights on, he can usually be found making various messes in the kitchen, with apologies to his wife.
Contact: Nicholas L. Hall