REVIEW: New DogTown Pale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company
Location: Petaluma, CA
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 6.10%
IBU: 62
Appearance: Bright Gold With Hints of Orange
Aroma: Fresh Pine with Grapefruit & Floral Notes
Flavor: Piney Hops, Malty Sweetness, Dry Aftertaste
Availability: Year-Round
Pairs With: Fajitas, Pork Chops, Turkey

This one is brand new for me. I’ve tried their Maximus IPA, but unfortunately I will have to reintroduce my taste buds to it at some point, because I don’t remember a thing about it, (other then I liked it); which will make it that much more fun to go back and visit.

But, back to the here and now, a new beer in front of me, waiting impatiently to be tried. Lagunitas was started in 1994 by Chicago native Tony Magee and has grown into one of the 6 largest craft breweries in America. According to the Lagunitas website this is not their original Pale Ale recipe, but a mix of that recipe and an IPA called Kill Ugly Radio, a limited release beer in 2007.

Thus the “new” in the DogTown name. All Lagunitas beers have a tongue-in-cheek story that borders the label. This one says,  “This is not the original Pale Ale as brewed in faraway 1993 in the back of the Old House of Richards Building in the West Marin hamlet of Forest Knolls right next to little Lagunitas… it is way better. Back then the beer tasted like broccoli and kerosene and the carbonation ate right through and drained your stomach into your gut…”I wonder?

The Pour And Aroma

An old and new did merge together in golden brew. The same, was neither. One did not convert the other…
…But almost.

New DogTown pours the color of bright gold with hints of orange highlights. The last runnings splash down through a vigorously built three fingers of lathered foam. Almost perfect lacing is left as foam line drops to meet the level of the golden liquid.

Aroma hits like an IPA. Big pine and fresh resin are very apparent, with some floral character peeking through once in a while, and a little grapefruit on the side. The floral notes, though very subtle and a little hard to catch, are quiet nice once recognized.

The Mouthfeel and Taste

Mouthfeel is light to medium and the first thing I notice is the hops. It is much less mellow then I would expect from a pale ale. This one has a much more IPAish hop forward taste. The bitterness has some grapefruit-citrus notes to it, but the first sip is a bit like chewing on pine needles.

Lagunitas New Dogtown

A little malty sweetness and hints of honey shine all too briefly at the backend of the taste. It tries to peek through the thick forest, and succeeds fleetingly, before being beaten back by the overpowering punch of pine and resin. Aftertaste is dry with remnants of the bitterness bully’s passing. The taste isn’t bad, but it took me by surprise. This is supposed to be a pale ale, right?

Overall Impressions

This beer turns out to be an IPA’s not-so-little brother. In fact, going strictly off of the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines this ale is at the northern limit of the pale ale end and could comfortably make the transition into the IPA category with little to no changes. And (side note here) actually Lagunitas’s IPA ranks lower on both IBU’s and ABV compared to this new pale ale, something that, though strictly speaking does not put this pale in the IPA category, is non-the-less interesting.

The malt character is just barely present, and the IBU’s would fit nicely into the lower end of an American IPA. Placed in either of these categories though, it still wouldn’t be high on my list of something extraordinary. Possibly it is the mixing of their original recipe with an IPA that brings this one dancing, back and forth, across the line between the two styles, but not really making an impression in either. It would be interesting to taste that original pale ale recipe, just to get a hint of where they were coming from when they decided to revamp this beer.

New Dogtown is not a bad beer, but it misses the balance of a good pale ale, instead seeming to prefer taking the harsher road of a wanna-be IPA. I might go back to this beer if I wanted a decent IPA, but (IMO) there are too many better pale ales out there to warrant drinking this one as a representation of the style.

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Nick Carr

Nick Carr

Nicoli Carr has been tinkering with homebrewing for over 10 years and is currently enrolled in the American Brewers Guild (CBA). When he’s not studying or working, he is likely out foraging wild brewing options, writing, or hunting stillness in remote places.

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