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.

More Beer Reviews:

6 Common Types of Pale Ale

Pale ale is one of the most popular styles of beer, not just to my taste buds, but all around the world. Made with a greater amount of pale malts, this style is typically lighter in color with a broad range of flavors, bitterness and strength.

This style is the brainchild of brewers who desired a purer product than the beer produced from overcooked hops. Through brewer experimentation with equipment, water and ingredients, different types of pale ale were developed and perfected over the years. We’re now left with a wide range of delicious pale ales that are growing in popularity.

Let’s take a look at the profiles and differences between the most popular types of pale ale.

American Pale Ale

American Pale Ale

This popular type of pale ale was developed here in America in the early ‘80s. American pale ales differ from British bitters in their flavor. They have a more pronounced hop flavor and, generally, higher alcohol content than their British counterparts. Because of these distinctive qualities, American pale ale is one of the most popular choices for home brewers. It is also an excellent commercial beer for people who want to enjoy a good domestic.

American Pale Ales will be dark gold, amber or copper in appearance. You will find a medium body that has an overall smooth and refreshing finish. The aroma will be low in malts, but moderately strong in fruity-esters and hops. This style of pale ale will have a somewhat strong hop flavor that showcases the piney or citrusy flavor often associated with American-grown hops. It may be somewhat bitter, but that should never linger for long.

When served or stored cold, you may notice a slight “chill haze”. American Pale Ales will typically have an alcohol content that ranges from 4.4–6.0%, while IBUs will range from 30-50. Whether it is because of its home brewer friendliness or its smooth, light taste, American pale ale is widely available both in home brew ingredient kits and supermarkets around the world.
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Craft Beer Club: Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

I’ve always had respect for Lagunitas. Almost everything they brew is gold in my book. They’ve been at the forefront of the less conventional side of craft brewing, and their expertise truly shows through the beer they produce. They are your prototypical West Coast brewery – inducing flavorful and aromatic hops and blasts of wonderful complexities at any chance they get. However, unlike some other reputable West Coast names (Russian River, Ninkasi, 21st Amendment, Firestone Walker, etc.), they’ve managed to maneuver their way through endless amounts of state rules and regulations to establish impressive distribution lines, spreading the wealth across the far reaches of the U.S. And because of this, we are very happy to be able to get our hands on all the delicious beer they bring to the table. One of these treats that’s available year-round is an American pale wheat ale by the name of “A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’.”

A Little Sumpin Sumpin Ale

We can say right off the bat, that this beer always looks delicious. It pours a substantial white head you’d find in a wheat ale and an orange-amberish color and level of clarity more typical of a pale ale. The initial look can leave you with a certain sense of slight confusion, and perhaps a little apprehension, only to be immediately swept away upon first sip. The taste is reminiscent of a delicious West Coast IPA, but with a seemingly fuller body and bready character. Give it a swirl and you’ll release an enormous amount of absolutely amazing aromas. The hops don’t lend much to the piney aspect but rather take you on a trip into a floral and fruit-filled place with an abundance of grapefruit and other various citrus. It’s certainly on the sweeter side, but the hop bitterness provides a balance akin to that of an Olympic gymnast. The mouthfeel is beyond great and the alcohol is there but it’s not boozy at all – definitely a great beer to session, that’ll get the job done any time of year.

The style of A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is obviously unique as it’s not too often that you come across a beer like this. It’s not a pale ale. Not a wheat ale. Nor is it an IPA. It’s just an awesome mixture of wheat and pale malts with loads of floral and fruity hop goodness. There isn’t a single thing about this beer that we would change. If your favorite pale ale and favorite wheat beer were to have a child – this would be it. We tip our hats to Tony Magee and all of Lagunitas Brewing Company for creating and maintaining their own path in the ever-growing jungle of craft brewing.