HALF-BROWN AND ruby with an oily froth for a head, Founders Dirty Bastard tips in at 8.5% and 50 IBU. Fie ‘pon thee, Robert the Bruce. The nose is heavy with molasses, cherry cola, and an imported malt mélange seven deep that’s too dense to decipher definitively. Better to just let the flavor wheel of Scotch ale spin and take in each new sensation as it comes: leather, toffee, light peat, pecans, red licorice, and a touch of toast. The texture is chewy but not overwhelming with a pronounced mineral tang in the finish that balances to great effect all its earlier sweetness. This water profile may be the beer’s secret weapon, in fact, so deftly does it lock all the pieces together in a refreshing but memorable way. Dirty Bastard is far from cloying and rather lighter in body than expected. The 50 IBUs are almost alarmingly high for the style but make relatively little fuss, being inextricable from the earthy malts and quite subdued in the aroma. Thus the beer leaves the palate nearly as cleanly as a doppelbock (as far as strong dark and malty go), though with fewer kilned and grainy notes. Despite their elevation, bitterness and alcohol strength are more noticeable once the glass is empty through a lingering leafy smack on the roof of the mouth and a warming dose of alcohol. The carbonation, meanwhile, is sufficiently pronounced throughout to keep the flavors from bogging down the palate and makes the beer equally delightful beneath a southern summer sun or paired with rich fare. Indeed, caramelized onions, prime rib, blue cheese, and parsnips turn the Bastard into right royalty.
Served: 12 oz bottled 10/16/13