Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jamaica–A Study in Beer, Part 3

Tonight concludes my article on the beers I encountered in Jamaica.  I’m finishing up with the beers that were, for me, the best Jamaica had to offer.  Many thanks to Carl at The Jewel Dunn’s River for introducing me to them.

Dragon Stout
This beer is a product of Desnoes & Geddes of Kingston, Jamaica.  As near as I can tell, this is a uniquely Jamaican formulation.

It pours a deep, dark brown almost an opaque black.

The thick, tan head dissipates slowly.  The head leaves behind thick rings of lacing.

The flavor is a very nice mix of sweetness, chocolate, smoke, and very mild hops.  The smoothness of the hops is probably due to the use of hops extract rather than whole hops.  Lagunitas uses hops extract for a similar reason, according to a brewmaster of theirs I met recently.

This is without question one of my very favorite stouts.  It’s miles away from Guinness or any other stout I’ve had, but I love the overall flavor and complexity.

I’d rate this a solid 9/10.

I suspect that Dragon Stout may be an acquired taste.  On Beer Advocate, “The Bros” gave it a 90/100 or “outstanding” while the 300+ reviewers who visit the site rated it only 79/100 or “okay”.  Reviewers on RateBeer were tougher on it, giving it only a 51 overall. 

Personally, I’m with the World Beer Awards, who gave Dragon Stout the Best Sweet/Milk Stout of 2012 awards.

Dragon Stout Spitfire
Since I’d already had several Dragon Stouts (over a period of days) before I finally got to try Spitfire, I had a good feeling about it from the start.

This beer pours a deep brown, nearly black, just like regular Dragon Stout.  The head is slightly lighter in color, and dissipates more quickly than for regular Dragon Stout.

The aroma is sweet, and the 10% alcohol content gives it a little bit of a boozy aroma.

The flavor is less smoky than a regular Dragon Stout, but somehow smoother.  You get the same chocolate, coffee, and smoke that you get in regular Dragon Stout with the added warming element from the higher alcohol content.  I found it extremely smooth and easy to drink, even more so than Dragon Stout.

This goes on my short list of favorite stouts, and I look forward to finding a supply of it in the U.S.  I was only able to bring back a bottle of Dragon Stout and one of Dragon Stout Spitfire with me.  I would have liked to bring more.

There aren’t many reviews of this beer on Beer Advocate, and reviewers tend to be somewhat polarized on it.  They either rate it around a 4/5 or a 2/5.  Even the bad reviews seem to find it decent enough.  The RateBeer crowd only gives it a 43 overall, which I find surprising, but to each his or her own.

This beer gets a 10 out of 10 for me.   I like the fact that its flavor is unique among the stouts I’ve tried, that it’s not overly syrupy, and that it hides its 10% ABV well.

It’s hard to imagine that Desnoes & Geddes makes almost every beer mentioned in this article series.
So, there you have it… That’s every Jamaican beer I could find during my visit.  If you go there, check out Dragon Stout and let me know what you thought of it.

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