Dogfish Head – Hellhound on my Ale

I have only been doing this blog since March or April, and I have already done two reviews of different Dogfish Head beers.  The very first beer I ever reviewed on this site was Dogfish Head – Red and White.  So, if you haven’t figured it out, I really like Dogfish Head.  I think they put out a lot of really good products, and they just always seem to be doing something really interesting.  This bottle is just another one of Dogfish’s wonderful additions to their already bountiful line-up.

For those of you who don’t know, Dogfish Head started doing a series a little while back to honor some of the greats of the music industry.  Their last special release was an imperial stout for Miles Davis release of “Bitches Brew”.  This time they went a little different route.  This release is to honor Robert Johnson’s 100th birthday.  Robert Johnson supposedly wanted to be a famous blues musician; therefore, one night he went down to the crossroads where he met a mysterious man who tuned and played his guitar.  Upon returning it, Johnson was enabled with the ability to become the musician he wanted to be.  This, however, also symbolized him selling his soul to the devil.  Using one of Johnson’s most famous songs, “Hellhound on my Trail”, as wordplay for the naming of this ale, Dogfish has created a really hoppy ale to honor the memory of Johnson.

The notes on the release from Dogfish confuse me a little.  The site states that this bottle reaches 100 IBU in the brew house; however, it also says on the site that the bottle is 58 IBUs.  Can anyone explain to me the discrepancy here in numbers?  Is it different in the brew house than it is in the bottle?  I want to learn.  Either way, this is intended to be a super hoppy beer.  It has been dry-hopped with 100% centennial hops, and it reaches 10.0% Abv.  So this is a pretty significant release.

After consuming, and being rather disappointed by the Smuttynose – Maibock release, John and I decided to break into this bottle for a second round of reviewing.  Therefore, once again, this one will feature two opinions; however, I can start by telling you we were quite pleased.

The most interesting thing about the pour was the considerable head that develops when you first pour it out.  I am always interested in seeing the amount of head that builds, so there is no real tipping of the glass to prevent head; however, I had to transfer to a slight tilt to avoid it becoming all head.  This is a very deep, rich copper color beer.  A little darker than most hop heavy beers I have; although, this isn’t exactly billed as an IPA.  It is basically billed as an Ale with a lot of hops.  (which is still an IPA to me). The lacy white head does have really good sticking power to the sides of the glass.

The smell of this been is very overwhelming on the hops.  That really isn’t too surprising, but it is almost the only thing that you can pull out of the smell.   I think it is still due to the hops; however, I also pull out some floral and organic smell as well.  Hops obviously have that floral quality to them anyway, so it really isn’t all that surprising that the light floral smells are present as well.

There is one really big thing that sticks out to me when tasting, this beer smells a lot more hoppy than it actually tastes.  I thought this one was going to be an absolute hop bomb; however, the bitterness of the hops is actually more muted than I was thinking they would be.  A while back I had Avery – DungA, which is billed as being around 94 IBUs.  This one at some point is supposed to be 100 IBUs, and I found the Avery one far more hoppy than this one.  This point is also really important though because I actually really like this one more than the Avery one.  It was actually a little difficult to get through the Avery bottle.  This one seems to be slightly closer to an Imperial IPA.  It has a very full hops flavor without being overwhelming. There is mostly the hop flavor throughout the entire beer; however, it does have a very earthy after taste.  The high point is that the finish is very smooth.  It has just the right amount of hops to not leave you with a terribly bitter finish.

The mouth feel is a well-balanced carbonation.  I thought from the amount of head that developed that it might be overwhelming on the carbonation.  I was pretty glad when it wasn’t too carbonated.  The moderate carbonation combines well with the bitterness to help move the flavors along.  Another nice thing in the mouth feel is that it isn’t terribly boozy.  There is a definite booze feel, but the booziness doesn’t linger too long.  It definitely comes across as more earthy than it does boozy.

Overall this is an excellent beer.  If there is one thing that Dogfish rarely does wrong is hops.  They have once again created a beer that manages to please someone, like myself, that loves a lot of hops, but doesn’t want the really bitter aftertaste.  I am not sure you can still find this one anywhere; however, if you do happen to see this one on the self of your local store, I would definitely recommend grabbing it. It is definitely around for only a limited time, so if you snooze you lose.

Teacher Grade: A



  1. I so wish we got DfH here. Thanks for “sharing.”

  2. I’ve had this on draught twice. What impresses me most about this beer is its exceptional smoothness. For a 10% ABV beer, it goes down really easy. And like you said, it’s hoppy, but it’s not too hoppy. Just a damn good beer! Maybe Sam Calagione sold his soul to the Devil when he made this one. 🙂

    Great review! Cheers!

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