Started in 1995 by Sam Calagione in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Dogfish Head needs no introduction to the craft beer community. It is known for experimentation with unique and odd ingredients and pushing the limits with extreme beers like 120 minute IPA, Worldwide Stout and Raison D’Extra, which all clock in around the 18 percent ABV level.
Extreme beers, high ABV’s, odd ingredients—what else could they come up with? Well, how about a piney, sappy, Christmas tree-flavored beer? And that is what brings us to todays beer for review, Pennsylvania Tuxedo, a pale ale brewed with Pennsylvania spruce tips.
Pennsylvania Tuxedo is listed on its website as an occasional beer and pays homage to “The flannel-suited hunters and gatherers who dwell deep in the back country of north-central PA.”
The beer was first released on draft in 2014, but Dogfish Head released it in bottles for the first time a few months ago.
As I pour this brew from the 12-ounce bottle, I cannot help to see the flannel-clad old school hunters from yesteryear that are boldly posing with beer in hand, ready for the kill, ready to continue the tradition that is etched in the history of the Pennsylvania countryside, the lifestyle that has been carried on from year to year, from generation to generation.
There’s a magnificent color of clear orange and mango that emerges from the bottle leaving a minimal head and dots of lacing that consume the entire inside of the glass, like some kind of ancient puzzle, waiting to be put back together to reveal some kind of cryptic message. Aromas are heavy with pine trees, pine sap, hops, pineapple, grapefruit and orange peel.
I consume the first sip of Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo and am overwhelmed with pine sap, hops, bitter pineapple, rosemary and pleasant nuances of biscuits, caramel and juniper, all of which are working so well together to maintain a pleasurable balance of ingredients.
Carbonation is ample and the mouthfeel is crisp, refreshing and sparkling with a nice bitter, spicy bite at the end. Alcohol is well hidden until the beer starts to warm and the ABV bites ever so slightly, causing a slight rough burn towards the end of pine and diacetyl.