DuClaw: Dirty Little Freak ale

A beer as subtle as its name

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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.

DuClaw Brewing Dirty Little Freak brown ale

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.

Cheers!

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