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Weekly Beer Review: Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale

Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale
Founders Brewing Co.
$2.29/bottle
Grade: A-

Your humble Beer Geek is on hiatus and is digging deep into the archives for some reviews to give a second showing. Some beers get better with age, but does my writing? Since this first taste, Dirty Bastard has become a beer that I don’t buy all that often because I either want something easier to drink or something fancier. Still, it’s a tasty beer for sure, and got me started on the Scotch ales I love so very much.

The Beginning:
This beer was one of a handful of recommendations by the clerk at my favorite liquor store, who said it was a favorite of his. I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationships with ales over the years. Some of my favorite beers are Belgian-style ales, but I’ve never met an IPA I could handle. I’ve never had a Scotch ale before, though, so I was pretty much going into this totally blind. I’m hoping Scotch ale isn’t as rough as Scotch whiskey, though, or I may be in trouble. There was one thing I couldn’t figure out —t he clerk laughed when he handed me the bottle. Why would that be? Is there something funny about a bottle of Dirty Bastard Scotch Style ale?

The Brewer’s Pitch:
“So good it’s almost wrong” is the leadoff pitch from Founders … I’m not sure if that’s witty, or if it’s just stupid. That probably depends on if I like it or not. Seven different malt types apparently go into Dirty Bastard, all imported, which makes me curious: how many varieties of malts do you need? If six is not enough, will seven be the right number? Can anybody tell the difference? It is supposed to carry a dark ruby color, which is promising because I like red beers. Their description of the flavor, though, is rich malts (there should be, there’s seven of them), a powerful hop punch, and hints of peat and smoke. Peat and smoke? The brewer is comparing their product to a burning mulch pile? Honestly, it sounds more like something you’d drink on a dare than something you’d actually want to enjoy… Hopefully it outperforms the bar they set for it.

The Beer:
As it turns out, Scotch ale is apparently very much like a hulked-out version of Belgian ale. There is a very faint fruity flavor but a much more accented bitterness that makes this a much more powerful beer than a Belgian ever could be. It is indeed a dark ruby red and is heavily carbonated, although it does not hold a head to speak of. Interestingly, it seems to mellow as you go through the bottle, making the second half much more pleasant than the first. It is also incredibly smooth in the mouth, probably owing to the extreme hoppiness, although I still contend that you could get the same results for a smaller price tag if it wasn’t such a point to use all the different types of hops.

The Breakdown:
This is my definition of a beer for a picnic. Dirty Bastard is much too strong to drink on its own, and in a night of drinking it would probably make you sick to your stomach before you got any kind of good buzz on. However, pour me a glass beside a charcoal-grilled burger and I’m all over it. It is also best cool but not cold; straight out of the fridge, the bitterness is too accented (a common feature of strong beers), and if it’s too warm, it just tastes flat and murky. I’d say this is a good beer to drink with good food, especially when you can have it lightly chilled.

The Bottom Line:
OK, OK, I can’t help it. HAHAHA the label says “Dirty Bastard”! Right there on the label! I can say it all I want it’s the name of a product!

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