Theobroma - Dogfish Head Brewery

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very good

2,158 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,158
Reviews: 774
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 14.81%
Wants: 240
Gots: 326 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Brewery visit their website
Delaware, United States

Style | ABV
Chile Beer |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: slvrmon82 on 03-21-2008

Theobroma is a celebration of chocolate, the food of the gods.

This Ancient Ale is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras that revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions.

The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1,200 B.C. As per the analysis, Dogfish Head's Theobroma (translated into "food of the gods") is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs (from our friends at Askinosie Chocolate), honey, chilies and annatto (fragrant tree seeds).

It's light in color, not what you expect from your typical chocolate beer (not that you'd be surpised that we'd do something unexpected with this beer!).

Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,158 | Reviews: 774
Reviews by general_staal:
Photo of general_staal
4.46/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I poured from a bomber into a pint glass. The appearance was very nice. It is a bronzed orange color; which was very unexpected and it had a nice 1/2-3/4" head with nice lacing. I loved the smell. It had a very spicy smell. I could smell the chilies. The chilies were also very apparent on first taste. At first I wasn't sure I liked the chili flavor but the subtle chocolate on the back end made it very nice. The spiciness also added to the mouthfeel of the beer. The tight carbonation with the spice of the chilies gave it a very zingy feel on the tongue which was surprising. Overall I think this beer was a big surprise from the pour to the finish, but it was a surprise I enjoyed.

More User Reviews:
Photo of pat61
4.69/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours hazy orangish gold under a thin fizzy off white foam collar that quickly dissipates.
S: Honey on the nose and as it warms more cocoa and chile notes come forward.
T: Honey and more cocoa than the color would suggest on the palate but it is also lighter and subtler than you would find in a chocolate stout. The chile produces an interesting heat emphasis but fortunately there is very little of the vegetal quality from the chile that shows up in some chile beers.
M: moderate carbonation and medium to medium light body.
O: The beer is good at refrigerator temperature but it improvessignificant in the 50s F. this is unusual, very well done, balanced and enjoyable.

Photo of oberon
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I have been wanting to try this beer for awhile,I picked it up today and well...I wish I hadnt spent the money I did for it.Poured a clear golden with no head what so ever,it looked flat.Aromas are fruity with a light shot of spice,not like ancho's though,more heat than expected.Very light chocolate on the palate with the alcohol showing thru,the chile comes thru in the aftertaste.Eh not what I thought it would be,the spicey burbs are the best thing about this beer in my mind.

Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a sippin brew that hit me much harder than the 9% ABV advertised. The pour was rich thick and dark. The head was soapy in appearance but left quickly. The fragrance of malts and fruit abound along with the alcohol. The brew is very nice with fruit overtones and just a lining of chile. The mouthfeel is rich and decadent. I liked the brew a lot with bread and mild asiago. All in all I would suggest that this brew is most positivelly experienced with food but I could definately see my self sippin' on an eight ouncer solo.

Photo of Topheropolis
4.95/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I treated myself to this for New Years Eve. Unfortunately I didn't make it due to the 3- 750ml strong ales I started with. So it's my New Years Day Ale. It has a nice chocolatey, citrus nose with a perfect balance of cocoa, chilies, and honey on the pallet. Delicious!

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine Vol. II Issue X:

Accordingly to Dogfish, Theobroma, or "food of the gods," is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs from Askinosie Chocolate, honey, ancho chilies and annatto. The recipe is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras, which scientists claim is the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink.

Rich golden in color, with a slight haze and a thin white lace. Fairly clean in the nose with faint notes of powdered cocoa, spicy pepper and fermented honey. Very smooth on the palate. Medium bodied. Creamy carbonation. Sweet up front, mead-like at times, with cereal grains as the base and plenty of residual honey complexities. Mild fruity esters. Notes of annatto play along well, lending to the sweetness a slight nutmeg and spicy flavor. Suggestions of vanilla. Chocolate flavors are subtly balanced in the mix, as are the chilies, which provide a mild, peppery, soft heat. The chilies become more present as things warm, presenting themselves stronger in the finish. Soft honey and spicy finish that eventually dries up nice and clean.

Personally, we would like to see a bit more heat from those chilies, but this is without a doubt one of the more interesting, tasty and experimental brews from Dogfish Head. The balance of flavors from so many distinct sources is pretty much perfect. Sam, please make more.

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle. Bottled in 2008.

Pours into my glass a deep reddish orange with a lot of little particulate matter floating around. A small white ring of bubbles sits around the top of the glass. Aromas of crisp semi-sweet malts mixing in with earthy cocoa. Peppery spiciness is there with a bit of a toasty backbone. Hints of bready yeast as well. Interesting spicy chocolate.

First sip brings crisp sweet malts upfront with honey and a big flow of cocoa flavors that have an earthy quality about them. Spiciness and mild peppery heat are integrated in well. Bready yeast tones on the finish along with a lingering mix of spicy cocoa that's left in the aftertaste. Pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel is actually on the lighter side with big prickly carbonation on the way down making it aerate on your palate. None of the flavors are overpowering and it was interesting to drink, although not something I see myself regularly purchasing.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was quite unlike any beer I've ever had, and I still feel ambivalent about it. The beer was an orange color with a small white head. It had a faint cocoa and spice aroma. A cocoa taste with a peppery background. The pepper lingered for a long while, but was not unpleasant. I'd like to try this again.

Photo of gregmoscetti
4.48/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is my first review with BA and I picked a good one.

I had my mom back in NJ pick this up when it was released and it has been on the east coast until now.

Served in a goblet

The first smell of this beer was strange. I have never smelled a beer quite like this one and probably wont again. I was also surprised that it was not a thicker beer. Upon the first sip, I found this beer perplexing in the best way. The chile, the chocolate, they came together nicely. My only complaint in the taste category is the aftertaste, which feels like the chile. It is a bit of a lurker.

Drinkability received high marks. I don't know if its because i am surprised by its low gravity but the drinkability far exceeded expectations.

All and all, I am very impressed by Dogfish on this one. An odd beer done very very well.

Photo of marvin213
3.26/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A murky, dirty yellow liquid with a thin foam top greets me. On the light side, certainly, for a chocolatey concoction, but its categorization as a chile beer gives me less context. It looks mysterious like only a DFH could, but much lighter than I expected.

My preconceived notions involved honey-infused chocolate goodness, but what I smell here is more like a common keg beer. I detect maybe a hint of honey, but zero chocolate. There's neither hops nor malts billowing toward the nose, and I strain to get some chile qualities. There's something in there, but it's far from the forefront.

Taste is more impressive, and it's understandably "chile beer." There's a cocoa presence, but it's not quite chocolate--is there really a difference? A nutmeg flavor, which I presume is annato, pervades every sip. Coupled with the chiles, it provides a spicy pepper effect. Perhaps the honey serves just to balance all this because there's no honey sweetness. I acknowledge that maybe there shouldn't be, but then what are honey and cocoa doing in a chile beer? I realize it's a relic recipe, but it's confused. It's good ingredients meshed together but, at least in this case, the sum is less than the parts.

For a spicy chile beer with honey and cocoa, the mouthfeel is lacking. Again, it's confused, and I so want to like it, but what's going on here? It's a neat-o novelty, but a great go-to beverage it is not. It's like so many flavors compete for your taste buds that they fight each other to death.

So, for the intangible ambiguity that is the drinkability rating, I have to admit that it's one of the neatest beers I've ever encountered. All this neat stuff, replicating some ancient recipe--it's like a melodramatic beer. It's fun to share and to talk about, and the label is awesome. Though DFH obviously makes great beverages, they are as undeniably great marketers. For both reasons, I like having this beer around.

Photo of Beaver13
3.45/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle. Pours a hazy golden orange with a smallish white head that quickly diminishes to a thin film that leaves some lacing.

The aroma is some sweet malts, and spices - spicy cinnamon and tea.

The flavor is sweet malts with a little fruit and honey leading to a spicy (hot) cinnamon finish (red hots). It is a bit plasticy in the aftertaste, but warming from the spices and alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with average carbonation.

Overall, one of the more interesting spicy/chile beers I've had. I really love the background on these Dogfish beers - it brings out the geek in me.

Photo of generallee
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: It was poured from a 1 pint 9.4oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: The body has a dark golden honey color with a slightly hazy appearance and some fine sediment floating in it. Its head is light tan in color, average in size and slowly fades down to just a small ring of slick lace.

Smell: The aroma has hints of light sweet honey and malts.

Taste/Mouth feel: Its flavor has a pleasant honey and malty sweetness with just a mellow hint of chocolate. There is also a hint of chili flavor with is very mild and complementary. Its texture is smooth and slick on the palate with light carbonation and a solid well rounded medium body.

Notes: I was looking for a bigger, bolder chocolate flavor with spicy kick of chili. I was surprised to find a very subtle mellow brew that still a pleasure to drink.

Photo of merlin48
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle, as pictured here, pours a hazy amber body with a medium offwhite head that quickly settles to a cap. No real lacing.

Interesting aroma has a hint of cocoa, a note of floral honey, and an odd earthiness.

Mouthfeel is medium in body and carbonation with a distinct pepper burn.

Taste is intriguing and complex. The annato seems to provide the basic character, with an odd bitter woodsyness akin to aloe tea. Cocoa nibs aren't really noticed. A pepper hotness becomes the prevailing sensation as it warms. Wow! This is a strange brew, even for Dogfish Head. Finishes with a prolonged pepper burn.

Complex and interesting, nicely drinkable, but I doubt I'll look for it again.

Photo of Billolick
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Large DFH style bomber, love the Aztec/Inca style graphics on the label. Pours clear, light amber, with glowing/fiery orange highlights. Minor lace/head. Smoky/sweet nose. Smoke, unsweetened chocolate, earth, slight glimmer of chili spicing. Interesting and different creation by those innovative DFH brewers. Cant say its one of my favorites or that I would spring ($12.99 for the bomber) for it again.

Photo of Perkyanda
3.39/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer is a pretty, tawny-copper color, and cloudy, with a barely existent head of small white foam bottles. It smells sharp, reminding me of a citrusy wheat beer, and JD thinks that it smells a little like fresh mowed grass, too.

It tastes both sweet and sour in the mouth, with the chocolate coming in as an aftertaste. Its mouthfeel is fairly thin and light. I'll admit, there's more going on than I can really get at, but I can taste a bit of a ginger flavor, . The warming flavor from the chilies adds a nice kick that balances out the sourness, and I'm guessing the sweetness is from the honey. After a bit, the chile starts to crowd the other flavors out.

The chili leaves a warm burn in the back of the throat that I like--a nice kick since, at 9%ABV it's got alcohol but not enough to be reaaaallly warming. Overall, I like it! But I don't love it. For the price, would not buy again--but it's definitely interesting enough that I'd recommend picking it up at least once.

Photo of tigg924
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass

Appearance: minimal head, chestnut in color, moderate carbonation

Smell: honey, wheat, cocoa, and flowers

Taste: honey, big time cocoa and vanilla, small chili pepper, and flowers

Mouthfeel: low carbonation, light body, sweet with some burning at the end due to the chili peppers

Overall: I love Dogfish Head's creativity. This one is nice and complex. I love the deep cocoa taste that mixes with peppers. This is the most cocoa taste I have had in a beer in a while and the best beer I have had in a bit. I would like a bit more pepper taste for a chili beer, but overall the taste is amazing. Worth the money, I would drink it more if it were a bit cheaper.

Photo of daedalusfinch
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft in a Duvel tulip.

A: Mildly cloudy golden color with quickly dissolving head, leaving islands of foam at the top of the beer.

S: Nothing particularly special: some malt, an herbal sweetness, maybe lemongrass.

T: I was worried this would be too sweet, but it really wasn't, especially considering freshness and ABV. It was almost like drinking three different beers. Up front, there was definitely a little clovey sweetness that faded out fairly quickly, replaced with a satisfying wit beer-esque flavor/mouthfeel. As that faded, the chilis and smokiness arrived, giving a bit of kick at the end without being harsh. Delicious.

M: Slightly carbonated, maybe a little fuller than one would expect given the bottle description and color.

O: Not the beer I was expecting -- but in a good way. I've been swayed to pick up a few bottles, and I'll be curious to see what 6 months on the shelf will do to one of them.

Photo of Mora2000
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle. Pours golden orange with a small white head. Aroma is lots of fruit, but not the chocolate I was expecting. The taste is also mainly fruit with mango and pear. Maybe a little cocoa, but not very much if any at all. Finishes very dry.

Photo of BDMao88
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A -Has a nice golden color with a thick two finger head that lasts a short while.

S - Has a nice aroma of honey with a very small amount of cocoa.

T - You get a brief taste of cocoa followed by a honey taste. The peppers settle smoothly on your tongue and stay there along with a hint of cocoa which make it very nice.

M - Nice and creamy

O -This is a very unique beer for me and it took a few sips for me to truly appreciate it. I really love the spice of this beer and it is truly enjoyable to sip from a snifter.

Photo of magictrokini
2.72/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

An amazingly disappointing beer. Poured a clear yellow-gold with a flat white head that disappeared as rapidly as it appeared. No lacing. Nose was full of honey with hints of cocoa and earthy spice. Very, very faint chile aroma in the nose. Flat, kind of sticky mouthfeel with a long finish. Taste was lackluster. Lots of honey, as in I questioned whether this was a mead. The honey nearly drowned out the cocoa and earthy spice. No chile to speak of. No anchos, no spice. I want to say I could feel some "warmth" but think that was more wishful thinking that I could actually taste the chile.

Photo of Franziskaner
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

Light amber in color with a fingernail thin head of white head. Light Brussels lacing. Aroma is faint which is likely due to the chilies and the honey. The flavor is bit sharp due to the chilies and yet that is rounded out with a bit of sweetness from the honey. The chocolate plays more of a background note. The chilies give the mouth a bit of heat and the honey helps keep it dry.
Appearance: 3.5
Taste: 3.5
Mouthfeel: 4
Overall: 3.5

Photo of ehammond1
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On Tap

Urge Gastropub
San Diego, CA

Golden orange and honey yellow with plenty of bubbly carbonation rushing up through the beer. Thin, though persistent, white crown and dotted lacing down the glass. Very pretty, though not at all what I was expecting.

An interesting combination of honey sweetness and chili peppers--both ingredients really stand out remarkably well. There's some fruit-like sweetness as well. Reminds me of chipotle-infused dark chocolate candies.

While the nose is unique and the "ancient" ingredients are really able to shine through, I miss the same in the flavor. This tastes more like a sweet yet dull Belgian pale--sweet with honey, but a touch boring, simple, and one note.

Medium bodied with plenty of carbonation.

Another experimental ancient ale from Dogfish, and again, I think this one is probably more interesting to read about than actually drink. That being said, I'm glad I tried it and it's definitely enjoyable enough, though I doubt I'll be trying it again anytime soon.

Photo of PRpitmaster
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a bright orange color with a half inch head, which dissipated quickly.
Smells of pure cocoa, very chocolatey, there is definitely some heat in the background that balances the raw nib smell.
The chocolate definitely carries on to the taste, but it is not overpowering.
Very crisp beer, really enjoyed it, looking forward to tasting more of these "rare" or "ancient" beers from the good people at Dogfish Head

Photo of far333
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Faded yellow orange with a soapy head that rises up minimally and settles out quickly.

Aroma of grassy malt and ripe fruits.

Flavor of honey malt, corny notes, toffee and caramel, some hop bitterness, spicy finish. Slight warming, peppery spice lingers. Not detecting any chocolate.

Even mouthfeel, moderate carbonation, slight warming finish. Tasty beer, historically interesting, decent drinkability.

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.46/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured entire bottle into 34oz mug. Clear gold with fizzy carbonation and a thick white head that dissipates very quickly leaving no lacing. Smell is rather flat; some of the sour yeast smell present in its sister brew, Sah'tea, is noticeable. Bitter cocoa over the malts, and perhaps a hint of twang from the peppers. Taste is sweet malts, cocoa and the taste pinches to a close at the back of the tongue where the chilies make their muted appearance. Not sure I'd notice them if I didn't know they were there. Still an enjoyable beer; hides the alcohol well for 9%, which is a bit insidious considering it comes in a 22oz bottle.

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Theobroma from Dogfish Head Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 2,158 ratings.