Review Date 5/6/2004
It’s always nice to be number one. But when
you’re number two, you try harder. Isn’t that the way it goes? Here in
Atlanta, Sweetwater Brewing Company is number one as far as sales go, with
Dogwood coming in at number two (as far as I know). As far as beer
quality goes, however, I think Dogwood sets the pace. Maybe that’s
because they fall behind Sweetwater in sales. I’m not sure.
Whatever the reason, quality is what counts most to us, the beer geeks of Atlanta. And anybody who has doubts about which bottling micro is brewing the boldest, most cutting edge brews need only taste Dogwood’s latest delight, Whiskey Winter, to dispel them utterly.
I’ve drunk beer from breweries around the country and around the world. I’ve drunk them in pubs up and down the coast, out to mid-America and in Canada. And I can tell you that Dogwood Whiskey Winter Ale is one of the most amazing brews I have ever come across. Dogwood Brewing is not only deserving of respect in Georgia, but nationally as well.
There’s magic in the mixing of malt beer and malt whisky. And why not? Whiskey needs beer; it begins as beer. But when you take a sublime ale and age it in a whiskey cask, that’s when magic beyond imagining occurs.
Such is the magic in Dogwood Whiskey Winter Ale. This special beer began life as some of the brewery’s wonderful 2003 batch of Dogwood Winter Ale, a Belgian style dubbel. That beer was then aged for several months in Jack Daniels Whiskey barrels and released in April, on tap only, to some of Atlanta’s most prestigious bars.
The results? A beer of legendary character. An autotelic work of art. A magnificent marriage of beer and whiskey. A beer whose like I’ve come across only rarely. There have been others, like Trinity Brewhouse Cask Whiskey Porter and Dominion Oak Barrel Stout . Neither beer retained as much of the whiskey character as Dogwood’s seems to, however.
Dogwood Whiskey Winter Ale pours to a very dark brown to black color with a light and creamy head formation and a licorice and whiskey nose. When you first sip, this one hits you right away like a shot of whiskey: warming, smooth, and rich with tasty notes of vanilla.
The palate is silky smooth and eventually the whiskey notes yield to rich chocolate, a firm nuttiness, and Belgian yeasty flavors. Just when you think they’ve taken over, however, the whiskey flavors re-emerge in the finish and leave a pleasant warmth on the tongue.
The layers of this beer are incredible. First the whiskey flavors, then the Belgian dubbel flavors, then the whiskey again. It’s like a Belgian boilermaker, if you will. Very limited distribution, I paid $5.99 a pint (worth every penny) at Summits Wayside Tavern. It's available at other selected Atlanta establishments too.
They need to send this one to the Great American Beer Festival. On a five star rating scale? This one deserves six.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.