Dogfish Head – Pearl Jam Faithful Ale

Dogfish Head is just one of those breweries that tends to be really polarizing.  As was the subject of a rather heated debate on Beer Advocate as of late, people tend to have a rather strong opinion of a brewery at the forefront of the craft beer industry.  A lot of people, including myself, love a lot of releases that come out of this brewery.  However, also like myself, some people get really frustrated by a lot of things that they put out as well.  I can understand the perspective of a brewery like this that enjoys taking chances.  They enjoy pushing boundaries and attempting to put things in beer no one had ever thought of.  Therefore, taking risks like this results in not just big highs, but some beers that are a little bit of lows as well.  With the good comes the bad.  However, you kind of have to respect a brewery that isn’t going to just make something that they know everyone is going to love.  Fact is, Dogfish respects beer.  They want to elevate it to the level of wine, and if you want to cause a revolution, you don’t always make everyone happy.

Faithful Ale was certainly an idea that was sure to cause a little minor uproar from the start.  Dogfish has done beers in “collaboration” with different music artists before.  Both of their previous efforts, Bitches Brew and Hellhound on my Ale, were pretty good and popular.  This one had a much different feel to it though.  It felt a little forced or something.  That of course didn’t stop people from buying it.  I actually have completely stayed away from reading reviews on it for just this reason.  While I have my doubts, I want to go into it with an open-mind.

In a little video I watched on the making of this beer, Sam Calagione stated that they asked Pearl Jam what they like to drink.  They responded that they like to drink really robust Pinot Noirs and Mexican lager.  Therefore, Dogfish took that and ran with it.  The result is a Belgian-style golden ale brewed with very low hops, 20 ibus, and currents added at 10 different increments over a one hour boil.  It doesn’t scream of something I would typically pick up to drink, but it does come from Dogfish.  Therefore, I am always will to give it a try.

This one poured a rather yellowish apple juice color.  I realize the little pictures I take are affected by the effect I put on my phone to take the picture.  Sorry about that.  I’ll have to make sure I get one pic that actually shows the color.  I tend to think about how I got a good picture of the head and not the actual color.  There is a nice white head that develops on top of the beer.  This helps to result in some good lacing that manages to last quite a while.  Interestingly, there is basically no carbonation visible in the beer.  I really thought I would see some carbonation based on the head, but there seems to be none of that.  Good clarity as there is no haze to the beer at all.  This actually has me slightly worried.

I really felt like this one was lacking in the smell department.  The nose of a beer tends to give me some good idea of what I’m about to taste, but I just don’t really pull out a whole lot in the nose department.  I do get some overall sweetness.  You definitely pull out some of the currants.  The berry and grape aroma is still really light but obvious.  There is a little hint of apple that comes out as well.  You can pull out a little spiciness from the hops and yeast as well.

The taste is overall extremely crisp and clean.  This beer intros with some sweet malts and currant flavoring.  The overall breadiness is pretty present right up front as well.  The sweetness of the currants carry you right through to the yeast and light hops that give you a nice little kick to the middle section of the beer.  This is really necessary to give it a little complexity.  As the yeast and hops begin to mellow, the sweetness from the currant flavoring and some apple flavoring comes in to finish it off.  The aftertaste is barely there.  It’s some very mellow sweetness with a little lingering yeast spice.

The mouthfeel really isn’t all that much to speak of.  I really wanted some more complexity on the mouth, but it’s just really crisp and sort of refreshing.  I know somebody out there is saying, “What’s wrong with that?”.  My answer is, nothing really, but I enjoy something that makes me think a little bit more.  Despite not being visible, there is a lot of ample carbonation.  The carbonation is only increased by the spicy yeast here.  This is definitely not syrupy at all, and it is simply lacking in much of an aftertaste.  It finishes really crisp and clean.

I really do respect Dogfish and everything they do for the craft beer industry, and I wanted to really love this one.  But, in the end, this is really just an okay beer for me.  If you enjoy a light refreshing beer, you’re going to love this one.  However, it just isn’t really interesting enough for me.  I don’t think they created a bad beer here, but I do think they created something that is just a little boring.  Either way it’s Dogfish head, so if you love the brewery and want to support them, check this one out.  You might like it more than I did.

Teacher Grade: C



  1. These reviews are getting better. I like how you provide context beyond the beer itself with little stories or some background on the beers themselves. I think you’ve got a good things going. Now, I won’t stress over getting my hands on this beer. Too many beers for too little time.

    • Well thank you, I do appreciate that you’re enjoying the reviews even more lately. They have been flowing better recently lately as well.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more about Dogfish and their brews. I’ll keep an eye out for this release when I return to the lands of normal beer availability soon.

  3. Nice review! I just had this beer on Friday night. Split the bottle with the Wife (Mrs. G-LO) and one of her girlfriends (a HopDevil). While we definitely enjoyed it, we weren’t blown away. A good beer, but nothing particularly special. Bitches Brew and Hellhound were infinitely more interesting (probably has more to do with their particular styles more than anything). I also prefer Miles Davis to Pearl Jam, both musically and beerically (?).

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