Beer Review: Dogfish Head Fort 18% ABV

Originally written on November 22, 2009 with an updated tasting on January 6, 2010.

My first impression of Dogfish Head’s Fort was similar to the same brewery’s World Wide Stout the second time around—a serious alcohol bite. And at 18% ABV, that’s no joke. This beer poured an amber orange, slightly cloudy color. DFH says they brewed this as a Belgian ale base with a ton of raspberries. They aren’t kidding. This is one of the few beers that I can smell and detect something other than beer. It smelled like delicious raspberries.

The first taste is of unsweet raspberries followed by the alcohol burn that travels to the tummy. The taste reminds me of a modified Mind Eraser shot we used to drink that replaced the Kahlua with Chambord. Halfway through my bottle of this (I was an idiot and didn’t think 18% was that much and in size like a wine bottle, that’s quite a buzz), my husband returned from running errands and brought me home a banana split Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Serendipity! Drinking Fort with something sweet cut back the alcohol burn quite a bit and brought more sweetness to the raspberries.

For my second tasting earlier this week, we were at Dogfish Head Alehouse in Chantilly VA where they had it on tap. The bartender poured the beer into a snifter glass. It looked much redder and less cloudy here.The first taste was sweeter than I remembered, which actually makes this beer even more dangerous than I originally thought. With such a fruity, wine-cooler look and sweet taste, it’s easy to forget that this is not a beer for wimps. You need a designated driver for this one! After two Forts, I was glad I had my husband to drive me home. Despite it being quite cold outside, the Fort kept me mighty warm all night.

All in all, I find this a dramatic, beautiful, interesting beer. Dogfish Head suggests that this is a good beer to lay down, and as such I have a bottle in the fridge for any sort of Fort emergencies, and one in reserve. Beer Advocate reviewers give this a B, the Brothers give it a B+. I love fruity, Belgian, high alcohol beers so this is an A+ or 5 mugs.

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