Thursday, March 4, 2010

Big Beer Week(s) - Pearl Street Brewery Dankenstein

Dank, from Urban Dictionary:

1. sticky, hairy, stinky, and highly potent marijuana.
2. Adjective meaning good.

Could you use that in a sentence please?
1. I got an oz of dank nugs for 280.
2. That burrito was dank as fuck.

-enstein: of or related to Frankenstein; a monster

Pearl Street Brewery Dankenstein
BeerAdvocate (). RateBeer().
Appearance: served at 47.9 degrees, a little cooler than I generally prefer IIPAs, but we'll see how it goes and it'll probably warm up towards the end of this review; whisky-soaked coloration and crystal clear; a fine, stiff, thick head that leaves a white sticky lace on the side of your glass (man, that sounds dirty)
Aroma: loads of hop complexity, not much malt in the aroma, though there is some in the back if you're looking for it; the hop aroma is mostly pine-y and resin-y, a bit of pepper and spiciness in there, with a lot of orange
Flavor: bitter is the first noticeable thing; malt comes through in the body, and there is a pretty strong alcohol burn in the back; the hops are sticky and flavorful with all of the aromas coming through in the flavor - citrus, pine, resin, pepper
Body: strong and syrupy, with a long, alcoholic finish
Drinkability: I'd say you can't drink more than one in a sitting, but I've done it, more than once; and, yes, I was worse for the wear the next day
Summary: this is a big beer that won't be for everyone; it is sticky and highly potent, with big hop flavors that are slightly out of balance with the malt-iness; this reminds me, probably more than the Ale Asylum, of the Dogfish 90 in its syrupy hoppiness; where the Satisfaction Jacksin is a good IIPA even for those who don't typically like big, hoppy beers, this is a great beer, but is a slightly more "advanced" hop-head beer

There is this dichotomy in the IPA/IIPA universe. There's a balance theory where the big hops are proportionately balanced by big malt bills for an all-around flavorful beer that happens to be really big. Satisfaction Jacksin, and the Titletown HopMonster are both good, Wisconsin, examples of this. Two Brothers' Hop Juice, Bells' Hopslam, and Great Lakes' Lake Erin Monster are all in this vein.

There is another side of IPA/IIPAs where any idea of balance is thrown out the window, the malts take a backseat and it's all about hops and alcohol, and as much of both as you can get. Dankenstein is one of the few Wisconsin IIPAs to attempt this; we are not a people that traditionally embrace unbalance. Three Floyds Alpha King/Alpha Kong, Dogfish Head 90/120, and Stone IPA/Ruination are all in this vein. In my own personal universe, I can respect balance and I really like balanced beers; but these big, unbalanced hop bombs are some of my favorite beers made in the world.

So, try a few different IIPAs and see if you like them and what you like about them. You will quickly find that people have pretty strong preferences and phrases like "best ever" and "undrinkable" get thrown around a lot. Make up your own mind, each of them has their proponents and opponents so don't feel bad taking a side and putting down a flag. And, best of all, enjoy the ride.


  1. After reading this review, it's not clear to me if you liked it or not. It sounds like IPA's are your thing. I have a couple of recomendations for you to try. Sprecher IPA2 is about balanced as they get, and it's tasty. Also Redhook has a new IPA2 out and it's balanced and also tasty. They are easy to find around the town. The wife picked them up for me at Copps. They have a nice selection there.

  2. I just started homebrewing after I retired a couple years ago and it is a bunch of fun. My son showed me how to use the Internet to find ideas on new beers to make at home. I been reading this website for a while now and you guy like a lot of different beers. That Furthermore is really different stuff, I like a nice amber ale when I can get it. That JC. Whitney’s had a good one, but they are closed now.
    I have been looking for a beer that you guys have been talking up and I can’t find it anywhere. Where the heck can a guy find that Old English from New Glarus!?

    Thank you, Bill

  3. I like the Dankenstein - but it is definitely not for everyone. There is a lot of complexity that doesn't always balance, but it's really interesting to sense the changes at different temps (47.9deg come on Jeff go to 3 decimal points or go home!)

    Last saturday I was able to have a pint from a 'green' keg at the brewery. It wasn't quite finished conditioning (they aren't force carbonating this batch) so it had a thicker viscous texture and a touch of sweetness that I found off-putting(similar to DFH120). We tasted it alongside a bottle of the current release and I gained an appreciation for the finished product I didn't have before. It is a very good beer, but not for everone, and for me, only once in a while.

    Hey Bill, Barriques in Fitchburg has a couple 4pks of the NG Old English Porter left.


  4. Nice review. I personally LOVE this beer, as well as the Three Floyds Alpha King; my fridge is never w/out either of these libations.

    True, not for everyone, but most of what I drink is not. I prefer a pint from the tap, but since bottles are my only option outside of downing a growler, I'm kosher w/ what I can get my hands on.

    Kudos to the brewer, I can't say enough good things about any of the Pearl Street beers...have you tried their Stout!!

    See you at the brewery some time,


  5. really every iternation i have had of this beer has been worse then the last. starting with a couple years ago at the great taste where it was decent then to this past years great taste and now a few different times either on tap at other fests or in bottles now. it seems at least the ones i have had lately have turned into a muted hop profile the ranges from mildly bitter and slighty piney to sometimes extremely bitter but no hop flavor almost as if they forgot to add the later hop additions.

    i want so much to love this beer because it showed such promise early on and would love to see more big ipa's/double ipa's coming from wisconsin but i keep finding my self let down, though i hope and pray its just that i had the few bad bottles/samples in the batch or keg.

    That all said i wont be trying this again until i know its very fresh and thus allowing the maximum of hoppy goodness and hopefully change my opinion of this beer

  6. Yea, I tried the stout and it was well kinda watery and one dimensional. Nice try but doesn't really work for me. If you like hoppy ales, they got one over at the grumpy troll called grumpy creek. It has the aroma of an ipa, but the alcohol is 4%. It's pretty amazing, so brew boy (mbr) do yourself a favor and check it out.

  7. David,

    My wife was going to the shopping center to pick up some groceries so I asked her to stop by Woodmans to see if they had it there. She couldn’t find it so she asked the clerk if he could find some in the back. Well he found one bottle, and it was kind of pricey but she got it any way. I must say I think there was something wrong with that beer because it tasted like salad dressing. I am really disappointed, paying all that money for a beer that I don’t know how anybody could drink.

    Thank you, Bill

  8. Bill,
    I assure you, that was how it was supposed to taste. Read the label, it explains why/how.
    Personally, I'm a big fan of that beer, but it is very strange.

  9. Well Bill, that's why there are so many different beers in the world...kudos to you for trying it. Lots of folks get scared off by beers they MAY not like or by the price point. You may be out some cash but you tried something new and learned a bit about your taste preferences.
    I like the OEP, but have a general preference for 'sour' beers. Keep homebrewing, you can learn a lot about beer that way.
    Cheers, david

  10. David, I would recommend a true classic sour beer called Rodenbach. It's awesome, they sell it over at Steve's on PB. Another one to try is from New Belgium their head brewer was a brewer at Rodenbach. I seen it also at Steve's in a bomber bottle.

    As far as the OEP from New Glarus, that beer was so bad that I was told by a friend that it was pulled off the market. Even the fine brewers at NG realized something was wrong with it. Most breweries would not have the courage to admit it. Kudo's to Dan and Deb. Now if they could only figure out on how to get the Cow into cans.

    thanks Darren. Nice website! My sister Robin and her mate Allie turned me onto it.

  11. I'm very familiar with Rodenbach. My sour preference is actually for Liefmans Goudenband and Verhage Victenaar, but can't always afford them. Lambic based beers are also high on my list for special occasions; a bit pricy for regular consumption.
    The La Folie from NBelgium is an alltime fav of mine - I've been waiting 6 years for it to come to wisconsin. Happy days! Cheers

  12. When one tastes a beer as strong and involved as the DANKENSTEIN IIPA, you must take into account it's vintage. The beer is bottle conditioned, so it matures at the brewery until natural carbonation occurs, then is released to the public. Most beers, just like most wines, are not meant to age. They’re intended for drinking as soon as they leave the brewery, the fresher the better. But some beers, primarily stronger and sometimes sweeter beers, do improve with age, like Thomas Hardy, Aventinus, Victory Golden Monkey, or Dankenstein.
    An aged beer may have subtle or very pronounced flavor, color and aromatic changes compared to a young beer of the same kind.
    Indeed, who would uncork a two month old bottle of Bordeaux and declare it bad?


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