An unlikely partnership between search giant Google and craft beer pioneer Dogfish Head has culminated in a limited-edition beer called URKontinent. Named after the original supercontinent thought to pre-date Pangaea, the collaboration conveniently exploited a broad swath of Google’s products suite, starting with surverying thousands of Google employees around the world on what they’d like to see in a Dogfish Head-Google beer. A smaller team from Google then worked with Dogfish Head to refine the concept for the beer, create the recipe, track down the assortment of obscure ingredients they had settled on and ultimately brew it.
They ended up with a Belgian Dubbel-style beer with additional ingredients proposed by Googlers, like chocolate malts and Belgian dark candi syrup, wattleseed from Australia, amaranth from South America, green rooibos from Africa and myrica gale from Europe. Fortunately, they made a short documentary on the project that explains the whole thing:
Commercial description: Urkontinent is a Belgian-style dubbel that begins with Pilsner, Munich and Chocolate malts and Belgian Dark Candi syrup. Then we add unique ingredients from around the world: Wattleseed from Australia imparts chocolate, coffee and hazelnut notes to the beer. Toasted amaranth from South America gives it an earthy, grainy flavor and a little additional roast flavor. Green rooibos from Africa contributes a floral aroma and slight astringency. Myrica gale from Europe supplements the bitterness from minimal hopping. Hiveplex Honey from California adds a subtle sweetness while maintaining the dry finish. The careful combination of all these ingredients creates a complex, dark Belgian-style ale with wonderful coffee and chocolate-covered cherry flavors. The roastiness of the malt and wattleseed melds with the fruity esters from the yeast, the floral notes from the rooibos, and the malty yet dry signature of a Belgian dubbel. Urkontinent is perfect to enjoy with friends as the weather begins to cool.
Pours a deep cherry brown with garnet highlights. A two finger light brown head that slowly dissipates into a solid persistent lace leaving a nice trail down the glass.
A ton going on here! Dark chocolate, roasted malts, toasted brown sugar, caramel , cherry and earthy notes are there as well. The smell is fantastic!
Taste follows the nose fairly closely. Moderate fruity esters. Starts with plenty of tart cherry and roasted chocolate, with notes of coffee, dates, bananas, and hints of bourbon. The roasted malt is quite pleasant, giving this a toasty, creamy flavor. A pleasant sweetness from either honey or malts. Finishes with the slightest bit of tang. Very complex. I’m not familiar with many of the exotic ingredients so it is difficult to comment on their roles in the flavor profile. All I know is the result ends up being balanced and delicious.
Full bodied, medium carbonation, lush. Alcohol is well hidden behind sweetness. Very drinkable considering the style.
OVERALL IMPRESSION (10/10)
Wow! I am a big fan of Belgians and I’m pretty unforgiving of bad interpretations of the style. URKontinent is pushing the envelope with the use of its exotic ingredients but ends up with a bull’s-eye for the style.
FINAL SCORE (47/50)