Beer Review: Dark Horse Smells Like a Safety Meeting

photo by Ian MeWhinney
photo by Ian MeWhinney

National IPA Day is Aug. 6, and we're leading up to it with posts on a few interesting IPAs, some of which may be familiar and some of which may not.

Modern breweries and their crazy beer names. I came across this one only this year and had no clue what a safety meeting smelled like. I had no clue what it event meant.

But I’m not a pot smoker, and when I figured out shortly after having this beer that was the reference, I smiled, shook my head and figured no harm, no foul.

For what it’s worth, if you’re as clueless as I was, a “safety meeting” is a reference to when you find a way to smoke pot at work. Or as so eloquently describes it in this example: “Yo, Chad, we're having a safety meeting in the walk-in cooler in 5 minutes."

But I get where they were going with this. This beer has a beautiful and gigantic aroma, with so much malt character, fruity notes, earthiness and sweetness, that the bounty is distinctive almost to the point of being incomparable. One could probably say that about a safety meeting – at least in terms of it possessing a, um, distinctive odor.

Pot references aside, the fruity notes in this beer are especially intriguing, reminding me of dates. My curiosity piqued, I looked up the beer online and mulberry is the fruit the Dark Horse website references – I don’t think I’ve ever smelled or tasted a mulberry, so you might want to do your own research on that one.

They didn’t skimp on the hops either, although the Dark Horse brewers aren’t giving any secrets away. Here’s how the product description puts it: “Between the secret blend of the most DANK hops that we can get our hands on and a ‘more than healthy’ dose of double dry hopping, this beer can be announced to the nose from across the room that someone is definitely having a Safety Meeting.”

With the first drink, the thick earthy quality of the grains takes control, the fruit right behind. The hops stay a bit in the background, but still complete the experience with a lightly acidic and moderately bitter cutoff at the back of the palate. Notes of pine help finish this one off, and I even detected a hint of a tanginess to go with some of the citrusy characteristics.

The thing is, this big beer is hopped liberally, but it is balanced so well with the malt characteristics that it doesn’t come across as being overly bitter. And it really drinks pretty easily given the sheer magnitude of what’s going on with this beer. Don’t mistake it for a session beer, though. The huge malt body helps boost it to an 8.5 ABV, but one has to expect that with so much flavor and body involved.

Smells Like a Safety Meeting comes out every April, and Dark Horse stops brewing it after June 30, but you may still be able to find some. I did. It’s worth looking for. If you can’t find some to enjoy this year on National IPA Day, well, you can always plan for next April and make sure to stock up.