Archive for April, 2009

fort11For the official kick-off of our blog, beer guys Charlie, Russ, and Nate opened a bottle of Dogfish Head Fort Ale.  What follows is “real time” unfiltered first impressions about this magnum size brew!

  • Beer Guy Charlie – This is all raspberry. Dry, fuzzy, “sticky”.  Like eating ’em fresh off the bush on a warm summer day. 
  • Beer Guy Russ –  Fruit and beer don’t belong in the same glass!
  • Beer Guy Nate –  The high alcohol content makes this smell a little like nail polish. 

Ok.  We admit, the above is simply first impressions.  We have always enjoyed Dogfish Head brews.  Despite the fact that 2 out of the 3 ‘Two Beer Guys’ reviewers don’t believe beer and fruit should mix we opened our minds and let the libations flow.

Fort Ale is definitely ALL RASPBERRY… and a dash of 18% alcohol by volume.  When we say “All Raspberry” we mean it, right down to the subtly dry raspberry after-taste.  From our perspective this brew would be best enjoyed as an after dinner drink and would go well with dark chocolate.  However, since we are far removed from the ideology that “Fruit & beer make good drink” we believe that there are other people more qualified rate the merits of this brew.


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 ballentineSo after trashing Dogfish Head Fort the other night I got to thinking. Why did the three of us take exception to mixing raspberries with beer.   What in that combination or any fruit/beer combo turns us way off… like when someone buys a Sam Adams sampler and gets the Cranberry Lambic which gets slid to the way back of the fridge and left for that desperate night when  no cash, no beer, dark and rainy, and no nearby-open-store,  coincide to make us reach… reach past the partly used Ranch dressing, past the barbecue sauce from last summer, past the leftover slice of pizza and latch onto the Lambic. I think it is in the way  we enter the beer world.

If I open a bottle of beer, which I must clarify, I lean toward ale and am partial to stout, porter, IPA and that ilk, then I have expectations. When I first drank Flemish Sour Ale I thought something had gone horribly wrong in the brewery. Only when I prepared myself for the Sour was I able to appreciate its character. That doesn’t mean I then loved it… I appreciated what it was and I thought of the cold, damp, spring of Flanders and the Ale House, ancient and well loved by the local craftsmen talking about the bicycle racing season just begun on the cobbled farm roads and mud.

My first taste, the eye opening, permanently implanting memory of that remarkable fluid, beer, occurred when I was about eleven years old at a boy scout gathering of some sort. My father, my older brother and I spent that warm early summer day watching and enjoying various activities. A haze fills most of that day except for the clear, sunny skies, the smell of warm, spring earth and damp grass. My father stood at the horseshoe pitch with the other fathers. I tagged along, my brother was out of sight. The men had green bottles in their hands; I wish I could say for sure but I always thought of them as Ballantine Ale bottles. It was a common ale for the old timers. I might add that when I was eleven Ike was President of the US.

Nevertheless, my father – not particularly a beer drinker- handed me his bottle while he stood up to toss the old iron shoes. I remember the dirt, moist and dark, the smell of good earth like behind the Forsythia bushes down near the stone foundation at home. I remember the kahki work pants that my father and nearly all the men wore on Saturday, heavy and soft from wear.I remember the dungarees that I wore with the rolled up cuffs and broken-in feel, the feel of jeans that in those days came from hard use, not purchased that way. I remembered the cold green bottle that I grasped by the neck. And I remember holding it up to my lips and tilting, the fluid sliding down my throat. 

That taste, that day, stayed with me. A bitter, hoppy, strong after-taste ale. Ever after I measured beer with that first taste, the early Knickerbocker, Ballantine – the true gen, the GIQ’s of Pabst or Knick or Schaefer of my early high school years. They had to have that earthy strength, always reminding me of the damp earth of the early summer day with my father.

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