Sometimes it can be difficult to review a beer, especially one that receives a good amount of hype. The first thing that goes through my mind is how can I, who have only been brewing and drinking craft beer regularly for only the last 2.5 years even begin to have the credentials to critique the product of someone who has been producing a commercial product or homebrew for years. Obviously they know what they are doing and someone likes what they are brewing, because they are marketing it. I'm relatively limited in my knowledge of brewing and still have a long way to go before I'll consider myself any sort of expert. Regardless of my lack of experience, I try to judge every beer fairly and if for some reason I totally despise it I typically won't review it. If I think it has potential I'll usually do a write-up.
The first issue I have with Dragon's Milk is that I can't find any real definitive answer on what style it is supposed to be. While I'm not a style nazi by any means, I still haven't gotten into the subjective part of reviewing yet (but I'm trying) and I like to base my impressions on some sort of standard. Even if a beer doesn't fit a style, sometimes the name will clear it up as in Black IPA. In that case I would expect a dark, hoppy beer. The closest thing I could find was references to it being an American or English Strong Ale on BA and ratebeer.
I can tell you that Dragon's Milk pours looking like a stout/imperial stout. Dark brown with a tan, quickly dissipating head with minimal lacing. The aroma is strong with bourbon with chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and floral hops having a battle with eachother in the background. The bourbon dissipates some and the battling scents acheive parity with the whiskey. Based on what my nose is telling me, I am expecting something strong and stouty and the first few sips seem to hold true as I drink a chocolate vanilla espresso infused with Tennessee whiskey. A prounced hop bitterness numbs the rear roof of the mouth.
The issue I have is that as the beer warms more, the bourbon masks out everything. It goes from being a semi-enjoyable experience to a night of doing shots. I'm not a big whiskey drinker, and after a shot or so I am done, unless it is mixed. This beer lacks a strong malt backbone to stand up to the whiskey, which is probably why most bourbon beers are strong stouts or porters. It lacks any sort of balance whatsoever and quickly becomes a real dissapointment. I poured the second half of the bottle out and it's a very rare occasion when I pour a beer out.
A year or two in the bottle might make this beer a bit more enjoyable, but therein lies another issue I have with certain beers. It's one thing if it gets better with age, but if it needs to age before it can be drank, I'd like to know beforehand. In my opinion though, this beer with age will still be a watered down version of whiskey and not much else.
This beer didn't get rave reviews on BA either, but even so it has a B overall even with some of those reviews saying that it wasn't good. If I were going to assign it a letter score, I'd give it somewhere between a D and a low C.
Bath Road, Cranford
2 days ago