Devil Dog! To salute the birthday of the United States Marine Corps, we have not one but two special reviews for you today. Though the origins of the phrase are a bit mixed, the myth goes that when German soldiers encountered a unit of Marines in France in 1918 that upon being repulsed, they radioed back to their headquarters that they had encountered soldiers who fought like “dogs from Hell.” That name, “Teufelshunden” in proper German, was adapted alongside the traditional Leathernecks moniker and has served as motivation for hundreds of thousands of Marines for nearly a hundred years since. The phrase has more meaning, as with the traditional depiction being a bulldog the Marines have adopted that as their semi-official mascot – in fact, in 1922 the Marines literally adopted Jiggs, an English Bulldog, and conscripted him into service “for life.”
In that spirit we’re saluting the Marines with a beer apt for both its name and its style – the Germans did first invade Belgium in 1914, after all! And there were, you know, three allied powers fighting the Germans in France and…well, let’s just stop there.
Teufelhunde, Beer Hound Brewery (Culpeper, VA)
Belgian Tripel, ABV 9.1%, IBU 27
Presentation: Bottle pour into Bock glass. Ok, it’s not a snifter but it’s the best I can do blogging from out in Kansas.
Appearance: Murky goldenrod with ocher towards the center. A judicious pour as I did will get you a frothy, lively head but while the foam is resilient the glass stays clean.
Taste: A little bit of resiny fruit greets you, almost like apricots that have soaked in a mild liqueur. That nose segues perfectly into the body, and your tongue will pick up those same apricots and also a semblance of the velvet that you get in the big Belgians. The finish is reminiscent of an oak-aged Chardonnay – buttery with a bit of bite. There’s no real bitterness despite the IBUs. Slow down while sipping to get all the flavor out of this one.
Mouth Feel: If you’re not used to Tripels the Teufelhunde may be a bit intense. It won’t overwhelm your palate from a hops, acidity, or carbonation perspective, but given the high ABV and the style’s likeness to other hard(er) alcohols it’s the kind of style that plays a bit with your connotation of “beer” and what it should taste like. The lingering taste will remind you more of either a dry white wine or Schnapps, in other words.
Overall: There’s a reason I awarded this same beer the runner-up for the Stretchy Pants Award at the VA Craft Brewers Festival in 2015. Basically, despite the intense flavor profile it plays with so much of your palate that the delicate balance makes it a total joy to drink. A sip here, a bit of hard cheese there, and all of a sudden that whole bomber is gone, the cheese wheel is mortally wounded, and here come the sweatpants!