For over 20 years now, Baltimore’s DuClaw Brewing has been a staple of craft beer in Maryland. And while they were more publicly known for a chain of restaurants/brewpubs of the same name, the fact is that they’ve amassed an interesting resume of beers in the past years.
Often accompanied by fun names, their repertoire includes such flavor-forward staples as “The Funk”, a blueberry-wheat beer and, arguably, their best-known beer, “Sweet Baby Jesus”, a dark porter that’s loaded with chocolate and peanut butter flavors.
Today’s feature, “Dirty Little Freak”, definitely follows the same course as it’s tap mates.
DLF is a brown ale, the style of which originated in English-style beers. They’re typically medium-bodied, made with darker roasted malts, mildly hopped, and a slightly dry finish.
It pours into a glass as a very dark reddish brown color with good carbonation and, at 5.8% ABV, it’s not too heavy on the alcohol. This one is more of a dessert-like beer, which is readily apparent almost immediately as you bring the glass to your nose and start to pick up chocolate aromas.
The flavors get pretty complex – caramel and vanilla up front, lots of unsweetened coconut, then a lot of chocolate & roasty malt on back end. I even picked up a little nuttiness, like an almond? I’m not quite sure.
Surprisingly, it’s not very sweet, and don’t expect it to taste like a Mounds bar, either. In fact, I’d almost describe it as having a similar flavor to a bourbon barrel-aged beer, but without the burning booziness.
It’s a great beer to try. Once.
I’ll be honest – there’s a lot of fun, funky flavor going on in this but, like so many of DuClaw’s beers, you probably won’t want a second glass of it. It’s great as a sampler in a flight, but you may find that anything more than a 12oz. serving might become too much on your palate.
Don’t get me wrong – DuClaw is really putting out some great, full flavored beers (try the Sweet Baby Java), so don’t be afraid to give them a try if you see them on tap or on a shelf.
After all, beer should be fun, creative and a bit whimsical, and you can taste that philosophy in every one of their beers.
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