This golden strong ale is fermented with sour cherry juice and cocoa nibs and clocks in at 17% ABV.
Going into a 17% ABV beer is all about mental preparation. It’s like going to class in college. You know that afterwards you will appreciate the knowledge and experience you gained, but it’s going to be a struggle to get through it. The entire time you are questioning,”What the hell have I gotten myself into?”.
Enter Higher Math, a new limited ale from Dogfish Head brewing celebrating their twentieth anniversary in business. The founder of the company, Sam Calagione, was a waiter in his mid-20’s in New York City. Legend has it that on the way home from picking up his first homebrew kit, he spotted a bag of cherries at a local bodega. The rest his history. In his first attempt he used the cherries to give the result a fruity, pungent aroma and taste. Higher Math is a tribute to that fateful first experiment that started it all.
This thing pours like molasses. The golden brown syrup drips out of the bottle and sloshes into the glass like a sludge. Cherry particulate matter settles at the bottom waiting to destroy you on the final swig. Alright, let’s get the obvious out of the way. The first sip is brutal. The alcohol content is floating somewhere between your typical brew and hard liquor. There is gonna be some recoil on that initial taste, but stick with it. Midway through the glass I found myself genuinely enjoying Higher Math.
It is extremely bitter, but there is a lot of flavor and taste. This isn’t one of those girly, fruity beers that has “undertones” of cherry. Imagine instead a state fair cherry pie eating contest where you shove your face into pie, hands behind your back. Granted, this is not a beer you enjoy passively after a long day of work. This is an experience and a tribute to the capabilities of the brewer. If you are a craft beer junkie and a fan of Dogfish Head, Higher Math is a bottle you should definitely pick up just to be exposed to the power of heavy brews. I will also add that I was literally drunk after a handful of sips. I was bracing myself to gag down a gimmicky, over-alcoholic ale. Instead I was surprised to find I had fun drinking Higher Math. It was an intriguing release coupled with a great story. I’m just scared to see what they do for their 40th anniversary…
Available: November 2015 in 12oz bottles (Limited batch, only brewed once)
Food Paring Recommendations:
- Grilled game
- Short ribs
- Cherry cheesecake
Comparable Wine: Shiraz