Philadelphia is truly one of the finest places in the world for the enthusiastic beer drinker. Most of the European imports are available within in the city, and there are a ton more imports and American microbrews available somewhere within the city–whether at Standard Tap for local fare, at Monk’s or Eulogy for your Belgian fixation, or out to the suburbs for Teresa’s Next Door and their several hundred beer list.
Not to be overlooked, however, is Philly’s proxmity to some of the country’s best breweries. Within a two hour drive of home, the Brew Enthusiast can find Yuengling, Yards, Weyerbacher, Brooklyn, Flying Fish, River Horse, Victory, Troeg’s, Stoudt’s, Legacy and more. And that doesn’t being to cover the dozens of brewpub like Nodding Head making delicious beer for the walk-in crowd. One of the finest breweries in the area, though, comes from Delaware, a state that isn’t good for much else: Dogfish Head, and for today, the spotlight shines on their fantastic World Wide Stout.
I discovered World Wide Stout last winter. Winter in Philly is cold, and so one must drink thick beers (with, hopefully, high alcohol levels) to keep warm. World Wide Stout (WWS) is a monster with 18% alcohol, which made me nervous, but on a chilly Friday night last January, Mrs Thursday and I sat down and cracked one open. Yesterday, recalling the beer fondly, I sat down with another one. Just as good, if not better, than I remembered.
The biggest fear I have in such high alcohol beers is being able to taste the alcohol. I don’t mind a little burn in my beer, but I don’t want to feel that facial expression frat girls make after taking a shot of cheap whiskey. WWS does an excellent job of masking its alcohol. The warmth is still there, and the alcohol does provide the beer a bit of sharpness in its taste, but this effect is subdued in a fresh bottle, and I imagine it’s almost non-existent in an aged one.
The beer pours stapler black with thick, coffee colored foam. There’s an audible crackle as the beer settles into the glass, which is probably caused only in part by carbonation, and likely a direct result of the incredibly high alchol content. The beer is as thick as motor oil as you pour it, but it falls smoothly into the glass.
The stout smells pungently of alcohol and like sweet fruits–dates, maybe? Something dark, certainly, with almost a sickly sweetness is part of the odor.
The beer tastes of warm, bitter chocolate and mocha, and the flavor of each sip lingers after the beer is swallowed. The alcohol–far less detectable in the mouth than in the nose–has a warmth that blends perfectly with the flavors. The beer, even served cool, tastes as warm as the best hot chocolate.
It’s an expensive beer, which is good. If it were any cheaper, it’d be far too easy to drink more than one of these, which is a pleasant mistake until the next morning. Highly recommended, even in the summer.