Nose: Fruity, hoppy.
Mouth: Also fruity and hoppy. Finishes fruity and sour, bitter but not much. Kind of medicinal. Not very well balanced. Hints of chocolate in after taste.
I have to say off the bat that quite a few South-westerners rave about Sly Fox and this did not impress me at all. Dunkels are a hit or miss for me but I usually find them pleasant and enjoyable. This was kind of bland though. It was another brew I had at Good Dog Bar. So maybe it just didn’t survive the trip well or was just old because it was neglected on tap during Beer Week.
Dunkels are supposed to be malty and smooth with a light flavor and light body. They resemble a stout in appearance but are closer to a Pilsner in body. Traditional dunkels are a treat, especially after a big meal! They are sweet, malty, and hearty with strong hints of fruits and chocolate which is due to the way they are made. Most dunkels use a decoction mashing method where a portion of the grains are boiled and then returned to the mash. This raises the temperature of the mash and also breaks down cell walls to release the starches from the boiled grains. More starches and sugars mean a sweeter, heartier brew. That’s the hallmark of a dunkel. They are easy drinking!
This dunkel from Sly Fox though, it wasn’t anything I was expecting. It was weaker in flavor but had plenty of alcohol. It was almost medicinal in flavor because of that. It was also bitter, sour and fruity. I would expect a fruity and even chocolate flavor from a dunkel but not like this. It was more like a fruit flavor from hops which tends to be citrusy with a bitter bite. Not something you’d expect in a dunkel. There was a hint of chocolate but it was in the after taste and kind of bitter but really sour.
I’m not a fan of this as a dunkel or a lager. Lagers aren’t really supposed to be like this. It’s not very well balanced and it resembles more of a sour ale or Flemish Red. Because of that, I give this low marks. However, it’s not a bad beer. It’s a different experience and there is certainly a complex bouquet throughout the entire drinking experience. I’m disappointed in the mouth feel because it’s very thin, almost watery which added to the presence of the medicinal flavor of alcohol, it made for a less than desirable mouth feel. You can tell that the brewmasters put some effort in to this. But it’s far too complex for a dunkel and it suffers because of that. I think it landed wide of the mark here.
If you like dunkels, I wouldn’t recommend this. As a beer, without a label, just a beer, I’d say to give this a try. Just don’t expect anything close to a traditional dunkel. As a beer drinker, this has the potential to be enjoyable if you don’t go in with expectations of something it’s not.