Calling Dogfish Head Theobroma “unique” isn’t doing this brew justice. This brew is a head-turner, steeped in an ancient past.
According to Dogfish Head’s website, Theobroma is “based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras that revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink.”
Theobroma is a limited edition release from Dogfish Head’s “Ancient Ales” line, and is brewed with cocoa, honey, chilies and annatto. And if you think those ingredients are supporting characters, think again. Each has a starring role in this production.
For a chocolaty beer, you’d expect a dark color, but Theobroma surprised our panel, pouring a bright honey-amber, almost orange color with moderate cloudiness and a fair amount of suspended sediment. Carbonation was low, producing a minimal head.
But what it lacked in suds, it more than made up for in aroma. The panel was impressed by its sweet smell, dominated by sugary floral, chocolate notes. One panelist noted the smell was reminiscent of a Tootsie Roll candy, while others detected overtones of bourbon.
Next up was taste…and this is where I have to invoke personal privilege. The taste of this beer was amazing. I rated it 28 out of 30, and many others on the panel rated in the upper 20s.
However, one — and only one — of our panelists rated the taste under 20 points. But we suspect that had less to do with the actual taste of the beer, and more with the fact that she (and we kid you not) dunked her nose in the glass and accidentally inhaled the beer when attempting to smell it.
After her coughing fit — and relentless torment from fellow panelists — died down, she couldn’t taste a thing…and rated the beer’s taste lower than anyone else on the panel.
Hey, it’s not the beer’s fault you don’t know how to drink, you rookie.
Anyway, the rest of us loved the complex flavor dominated by honey and chocolate — truly intense flavors that were further enhanced by a mouthfeel perfectly balanced between syrupy and sudsy. Panelists also picked up notes of coffee.
Theobroma continued to impress on aftertaste, earning high marks for a finish dominated by a slightly-spicy, peppery flavor imparted by the chilies. The finish was smooth, however, with a warming sensation in the esophagus and a light burn with overtones of bourbon.
This beer has a lot of complexity…from its sweet scent, to its cocoa taste, and its peppery finish. It’s also a very smooth drinker for a 9% ABV heavy hitter. So, as you might imagine, we rated drinkability extremely high.
We were quite impressed with not only Dogfish Head’s creativity and craftsmanship, but with the ancient Hondurans for pairing the flavors together in the first place.
And because Theobroma is so complex, this ancient ale beautifully reintroduces itself with each sip…provided you don’t suck it through your nose like some savage.
(Appearance 7.71, Smell 8.43, Taste 24.57, Aftertaste 18, Drinkability 24.57)