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Theobroma - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,095 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,095
Reviews: 768
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 15.06%
Wants: 227
Gots: 281 | FT: 2
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: 2,095 | Reviews: 768 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of farrago
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The head crests at about one finger then settles into a slight layer of cream white foam, the lacing about average. Has a dusky orange hue, depending on the angle either more brown or more yellow, great deal of bubbles percolating throughout. The cocoa and honey evident in the nose, flaky dough comes close to cookie dough, also has a noticeable peat moss, lichen foresty element, moves into allspice and something close to cumin, muttering of peach and apricot scents. Full-bodied, not as dense as it is sluggish, rolls into the mouth as a boulder would. The cocoa, chocolate powder and caramel soften the orange, tangerine citrus. The carbonation feels like an expanding balloon before it pops from the pressure. Hoppy bitterness breaks through at the end, some corn and cereal nuances. Repeats itself throughout.

Photo of sweemzander
3.07/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Wine bottle shape bottle poured into a tulip glass. Just says that it was bottled in 2009.

(A)- Pours a hazy amber color that produces a mediocre white head even after a vigorous pour.

(S)- Corn and sweet caramel/honey with a potent spicy note that must be the chiles.

(T)- Potent spicy kick up front followed with a relatively bland corn and honeyed malt finish that just dissapears on the tongue; rather dry.

(M)- Good carbonation level, but the spicy note is not really appealing to me. This fits the style really well, but its probably just not my thing. Its overpowering to the point of being harsh.

(D)- Definitely an interesting beer that I am glad I tried, but its not very enjoyable, at least for my palate. The spicy chiles really overpower and create a one dimensional beer that is really not to my liking. All the power to you if you really like this, but its simply not for me. I would have rated it lower, but since it is a great example of the style, I had to give it the respect it deserved for that.

Photo of brewcrew76
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Hazy orangish color with a thin off white head that settles quickly.

S - Honey and cocoa with some spice kick. Sweet bready malts.

T - Sweet honey and malts followed by cocoa and a spice that adds a bit of heat across your tongue. Yeasty and bready flavors with a lingering chocolate spice.

M - Medium with bubbly carbonation and a lingering mix of spice, cocoa and heat.

D - Interesting to try but I probably wouldn't drink it on a regular basis.

Photo of kindacold
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish color with almost no head.

Smells sweet and delicious, slightly floral.

Has several level of tastes. Initially it's super carbonated feeling, but as that goes away, you can taste a slight honey flavor, with a spicy overtone. There is a hint of cocoa. Some alcohol flavor as well.

Feels light in the mouth, and I can easily drink this bottle without realizing it (luckily someone is splitting it with me). The carbonation makes this quite refreshing, and it pairs well with spicy food or bbq.

Photo of sisuspeed
3.59/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light orange/peach color with a fizzy head that dies off quickly. For some reason I was thinking that this was going to be a darker beer, due to the addition of cocoa nibs and cocoa powder, but clearly I am wrong.

The aroma is fairly strong and takes on the smell of honey dipped grapes. Vinous, spicy and somewhat herbal. A unique smell.

The flavor is at first malty with the addition of cocoa notes, but is then conquered by a wave of chili spiciness that is hot and dances around on the tongue. This is one trippy beer. Honey is also noticeable and adds a bit of smoothness that helps hold everything together.

The mouthfeel is malty, spicy, warm. Flavor is not missing from this beer. However, the drinkability, at least for me, is fairly low. I would not want to drink an entire bomber by myself. Splitting it with a friend or two is about perfect.

Kudos to Dogfish Head for re-creating another ancient beer recipe and keeping it off-centered. I don't think I'll drink this beer too often, but it's definitely different than anything I've had before and was fun to try.

Photo of abuliarose
3.72/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass, amber colored with a thin fizzy head. Smells like ale with something extra. A little sweet, a little nutty... kinda like amaretto. Undertones of raw, fruity chocolate. The head dies fast, but it bubbles nicely.

Tastes... wow, tastes different. The base flavor is your everyday ale with the same light malt feel and light carbonated body. Piled on top of that is a carob flavor, honey, whiffs of coconut, citrus, and a slight bite. The mild mouth-numbing effect in the aftertaste I would liken more to chili pepper than to hoppy bitterness. It feels like I've been drinking something... spicy? Woah. This is the first "chile beer" I've ever had and it's an interesting effect to experience.

Drinkability is as good as any smooth-bodied ale and it certainly goes down easily. Overall, it's an experience. DFH never completely fits any of the categories their beers wind up in, but I'm glad to have tried this one!

Photo of Daniellobo
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Soft and balanced brew with gentle touches of chocolate, chilies and more. Very drinkable.

Presentation: 750 ml bottle. Cartoonish elaborate design around the figure of a Native American priestess like figure tasting and dripping the brew, in front of a design of a Pre-Columbian calendar. Enumeration of main ingredients as a way of describing it on the front with a side paragraph noting the historic background of the brew. Shows date of bottling (2009), neither shows IBUs or °Plato, only Alc. by Vol. (9%) Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Amber color with a quick half inch head that fades quickly, and hardly leaves a trace, neither on the surface nor in the way of lacing.

S - Soft malt with gentle touches of chocolate and a minimal hint of chili pepper.

T - Softly sweet with a touch of cocoa and a final delicate finish of pepper hotness.

M - Medium to light carbonation in a creamy smooth feel.

D - Very pleasant to be had, carries well its alcohol, offers quite a few subtleties but feels rather approachable.

Notes: Most common misconception might be expecting an assertive radical brew from this experimentation. The beer is actually nicely balanced with all those flavors present, but in the form of subtle hints, and touches as one goes along. It is not a favorite of mine, but guests often find it very drinkable and approachable, so it becomes a great social brew to share on the table and engage the conversation around a nicely crafted brew with a stimulating story behind it.

Photo of tavernjef
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid honey gold color with a barely there small, big bubbled foam that slips off super quick and doesn't really leave much lace while consumed.

Aroma is a bit muddled with some of rummy heat getting in the way af what I detect is a mellow amount of some banana cream pie, starfruit, and marshmellow.

Taste is a mellow and gliding little treat of what seems a bit like banana cream pie with a nice flakey fresh pie crust. Quite smooth and soft with nice little nuances to a lower ender tropical fruity heat; starfruit, pear. The finish cinders with the 9% perking a honeyish, rummy, yellow raisiny warming as it drys ever so softly of pie crust dough.

Creamy soft and slicker, maltier, medium body with a fine carbonation thats easy to partake and some eager warmth in more sips then not. Really like the whole pie crust effect it has, quite crafty and subtle.

A nice mellow going brew that speaks to quite a bit of malty things in it and drinks down preety smooth given it shows its 9% with just enough give.

Photo of Zorro
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Another DFH weird beer, these things are hit or miss. Either the result of genius or madness; sometimes it difficult to tell.

Hazy amber colored beer with no head.

Smells pleasant if unconventional. Chilies and chocolate with an emphasis on the fruity parts of Chile peppers and not the tart tang of types like jalapenos.

Starts out fruity and a little sweet with no burn and the taste of dried Chile pepper as an aftertaste. Heavy on the fruity aspects of this beer chocolate takes a backseat to the fruit. Alcohol content is completely hidden here. This beer has a long and pleasant aftertaste to it, not unlike Chile Pepper Jelly. Chocolate is in here but the flavor is subtle.

Mouthfeel is on the light side.

Not bad for an resurrected beer. Not going to make IPA obsolete but this is a different take on the Chile Beer concept. I can certainly see buying this again sometime.

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 pershan
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, MD.

The beer poured a clear, light bronze into a chalice - very thin white head - couldn't really detect anything in the aroma. There were hints of chocolate and hop bitterness in the initial mouthful, with a slight chile "hotness" blended with the hop bitterness at the finish. A fairly thin and oily mouthfeel, but not unpleasant. Good carbonation and lacing. A different brew, to be sure. The beer was not unpleasant, and the chile presence was fairly subdued, but not something I would drink a lot of.

Photo of drabmuh
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. Yellowish / orange in color, low carbonation and no head. A smallish head to begin with but it falls away quickly and stays away. The smell is sweet and has a character that i cannot identify. The flavor is simple, almost wheaty, but the brightness of the chili is there, easily. The spice builds on you but does not overwhelm. From all the weird beers from DFH, this has not been my favorite, but it is one of the better chile beers i've had. Good effort.

Photo of aquatonex
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got this as a surprise from my fiancee woo!

Pours a pretty orange (like honey), quite translucent. Not very carbonated, head dissipates rather quickly. No lacing. Chocolates and chiles are prevalent in the nose. Bitter chocolates are quickly followed by hints of chile in the taste. Finishes with an almost whiskey quality. An interesting beer.

Photo of clvand0
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on draught at Pazzo's in Lexington. Pours a light amber color with a tall head that falls quickly and leaves some nice lacing. The aroma has a grassy thing going on with a hint of chocolate and some floral notes. The flavor is strange and complex at the same time. Some sweetness comes through first, but then the spice from the peppers hits and is followed by some chocolate and biscuit flavors. Weird, but nice. The body is on the low end of medium and the drinkability is pretty good.

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 BatsforBeer
2.82/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Straw colored very cloudy body, frothy egg shell 1 finger head, lingers and disperses into a small layer.

S: Honey, earthy, spicy

T: Sweet honey with chocolate hints and spicy finish

M: Medium bodied frothy, spicy

D: Not very drinkable, the flavors just don't work well in my opinion, don't get me wrong, I love what DFH is doing, this beer is defiantly off centered, just not to my liking.

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

A- Poured into a 16oz tumbler... between 1/4 and 1/2 inch of off white fizzy head that disappates quickly... leaves no lacing. Beer is a light shade of brown with medium activity

S- First wiff is cinnamony, maybe some nutmeg. After a swirl of the glass and a second wiff, can pick up some more fruity malt tones... plum

T- Starts off malty and honey sweet... taste some of the cocoa when swished around the palate. Finish is still sweet and malty, but spicy as well.

M- Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Flavor clings to your taste buds and lingers in your mouth

D- Very tasty, would definately enjoy more of this unique beer


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

750ml bottle from the cellar.

Pours clear copper with a half inch head of short-lived white. Zero lacing or retention.

Aromatics lead off with lush malt, honey-drizzled grape jam, crushed nuts, and cocoa dust. Quite fruity with a definate wild, floral, musty backbone.

Medium bodied with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Carbonation is a bit low which lends a syrupy quality.

Crushed peppers up front on the palate quickly chased by caramel, cocoa-coated nuts, and sweet malt. The throat continues to warm with lingering spice and some rounded honey notes pull through.

Finishes with a strong, prickly warmth, a boozy kick, and sweet caramel malt.

An interesting beer that is pretty balanced considering the ingredients. It will definately be a bottle to drink over two nights after recapping and refridgerating though.

Photo of aubuc1
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 bottle dated 2009 poured in to a goblet.

Pours a hazy orange with a somewhat thin white head.

The smell is a sweet, yeasty, fruity (banana and oranges) with light bread in the background. Very interesting.

Taste is a dry with some honey, mellow malt and slight sour. Some chili type spice kicks in after a few sips.

Very smooth mouthfeel.

The alcohol is barely noticable for the high abv.

I wasn't sure what to expect, and was slightly let down, but by no means is this a bad beer. Considering the originality of this beer, I would recommend it.

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 CHADMC3
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep golden yellow to copper or almost brown with a big, foamy, off white head that quickly dissipates leaving a faint lacing behind after the dense carbonation bubbles are gone.

Very different aroma; most noticeable are the honey, chilies, and yeast. There is a faint sweet almost caramel like malt, and the cocoa powder presents itself once the beer warms a little.

The honey is a great first taste, nice & sweet & a great compliment to the chilies. The annatto (spice) is also very up front on the palate, and again the cocoa seems to follow closely behind. It is a little tough to distinguish some of the flavors, and had I not known to look for them, I may not know what I am tasting.

Medium to thick in body, medium carbonation, and a slight burn on the back of the palate, which could be, part chilies, and part abv.

This really is a good beer, and for concept alone warrants a try. While it's hard to identify each aspect of the brew, together it is pretty tasty and unlike anything else I have sampled. Give it a try.

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 ColdBeer30
3.37/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a thin off-white head which dissipates quickly leaving no lacing. Strings of carbonation can be seen bubbling up through the cloudy amber hue. Yeast specks stay suspended at all heights of the liquid.

The smell is subtle. Cocoa is most noticeable. The malt aromas are sweat and toasty. Hops come through as lightly floral and perfumy.

The beer may be well balanced but to well balanced. Ingredients tend to blend into a good but all to subtle almost indistinguishable mixture which falls a little flat. What can be noticed are the malts being more prevalent than the hops, the toasty flavor overshadowing the cocoa. The ingredients listed on the bottle are not readily noticeable. Chile and annatto are present on the after taste but you'll miss it if you don't look for it. They can be noticed by first catching the bit of warmth they create towards the back of the throat.

Mouth feel has a medium body and is a bit chewy. Carbonation is also medium.

The bottle I purchased was a 1 pint 9.4oz bottle. I enjoyed the beer but I think this volume is enough for one encounter.

The beer was good but for the ingredients listed and the brewery it came from I expected more.

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 BuckeyeNation
2.73/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Sunny Sunkist tangerine with light showers of fine yeast. With cocoa powder and cocoa nibs as ingredients, I was expecting the beer to be much darker. The ecru-ivory colored cap is on the crackly side and isn't very sticky. A few sorry scraps of melty foam are all that make it to the glass.

The nose is different in a way that is hard to put into words. It's fruity and spicy, although none of the rather unconventional ingredients are appreciated per se. I'm probably talking myself into smelling the cocoa powder. In the end, the aroma isn't very interesting, which is the one thing that I thought this ale would have going for it.

The story behind Theobroma's inspiration and creation is available at the top of this page, so I won't recount it here. Suffice it to say that this is another one of those Dogfish Head historically-accurate brews that could have done anything from succeed admirably to fail miserably. It does neither, but it comes disappointingly closer to the latter.

Carob (or malted milk) is the first flavor that engages the taste buds. It's quite an odd vibe coming from such a lightly colored beverage. Honey contributes a light sweetness without adding much flavor. Ancho chile adds a modest amount of heat and possibly a little earthy flavor as well. Annatto is supposed to be slightly sweet and peppery, but then how would one know with honey and chile peppers in the house?

In the end, the flavors never really come together into a unified whole and simply aren't interesting enough to make me want to keep on keepin' on. Historical interest aside, this simply isn't very good beer. On a positive note, almost no alcohol is appreciated on the palate. The central nervous system is another matter entirely.

The mouthfeel is no great shakes either. It's medium in heft, is somewhat slick, and lacks bubbles, which leads to a lack of volume and a shortage of creaminess. It looks like 'look', also known as appearance, is the highlight.

Theobroma is not one of Dogfish Head's better efforts. I appreciate that Sam likes to push the envelope (and I applaud him for it), but good beer has to be the end result or nothing else matters. For my money, Chateau Jiahu is the much better 'ancient civilization pottery fragment residue recreation' beer.

Theobroma from Dogfish Head Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 2,095 ratings.