THREE FLOYDS, three imperial IPAs. Or perhaps six, depending on who’s counting (and when). But certainly these three: Arctic Panzer Wolf, Apocalypse Cow, and before all Dreadnaught. Now more than a decade old, Dreadnaught predates several of its imperial Midwestern peers as well as numerous national notables. Though less shocking today than it was back in 2001, it remains Three Floyd’s flagship hop bomb(er) with 9.5% ABV and 99 IBUs.
A concentrated golden pour hints at a long boil time and robust stock of fermentables to ballast Dreadnaught’s hop-heavy ironsides. Its label does indeed assert a ‘pronounced caramel malt backbone’ (surely one of beer writing’s most tired phrases), though these seem to contribute more color than flavor. Especially early on Dreadnaught is aggressively off-center, but by firing its battery of hop aromas and bitterness at the outset it can afford to glide into the finish without capsizing. Perhaps those crystal malts do their steadying work beneath the waterline, while Warrior and Simcoe hops bristle fearsomely above it.
Indeed, Dreadnaught’s aroma is dominated by Simcoe: blockaded, barraged, and brought to its knees by a pungent musk, generously deemed citric and piney but honestly redolent of the cat-box. Simcoe is known to have this effect sometimes, though usually it is blended into other aromas (e.g. Lagunitas’ Hop Stoopid). Three Floyd’s claimed to do so here, suggesting “mango and peach” as other aromas one might pick out. Frankly, they are far behind. Dreadnaught’s flavor is more leveled out, with potent piney and slightly spicy bitterness forming its solid early punch. As it warms, pure pale malt and hints of biscuity caramel emerge at last along with a little alcohol heat. Carbonation levels are fairly strong on the palate but are a poor complement to the color in presentation—Dreadnaught’s density shows off only modest effervescence in the glass and the head is a finger’s breadth at most.
Dreadnaught maintains a disciplined formation in retreat and finishes more cleanly than its opening would suggest. Altogether it is highly respectable and rather easier to drink than expected . But its zealous early salvos sail just wide of the mark–and that first impression lasts.
Served: 22 oz bottle