Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dogfish Head Festina Pêche


3.6
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (599) - Albany, USA - MAY 26, 2010
"Sour beer" is a term usually associated with beer that has long passed its freshness date. But among the craft beer community it’s a term for a very niche style of light but flavorful beers of or pertaining to the Belgian lambic or gueze family. What’s often forgotten is the Berliner-Weisse, a German wheat beer with very similar characteristics (often served with an injection of fruit syrup or extract).

While plenty of breweries of all sizes from around the United States have made fruity wheat beers (especially for summer), Delaware-based Dogfish Head decided to make a truly unique beer with Festina Peche - an American take on the Berliner-Weisse style. It’s a semi-sour/semi-sweet beer that’s very light and refreshing. The difference is this isn’t your typical summer seasonal and that’s exactly what makes it worthwhile.

APPEARANCE AND AROMA

I poured a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. It’s easy to tell just how light-bodied this beer is from the appearance alone. It’s akin to white wine with a golden, slightly hazy, but extremely bubbly body. It forms a bright white, soapy head which fizzles away quickly like soda (although this is standard for the style).

The aroma is also reminiscent of white wine with a slightly sour, slightly acidic smell. It’s actually mild compared to European beers of the aforementioned styles, but it’s very interesting since it doesn’t smell like your typical "beer."

TASTE

The funny thing about sour beers is that they’re deliberately sour and it’s what makes them so appealing. Some might scoff and wonder what the appeal of a beer tasting sour is - to them I reply it’s the same appeal of the many candies that are sour and tart. At a certain point sour actually is quite sweet and tasty.

Dogfish Head Festina Peche seems to be brewed on this rationale. It’s an overtly sour beer as soon as it crosses the tongue. The sourness is rich enough to notice, but mild enough to easily tolerate. This beer is literally made with peach juice, and there is something of a peach, apricot and white grape taste to the palette.

The only problem is the sourness here is actually a little too mild. Compared to a Belgian lambic or gueze it doesn’t slam your palate with taste. It’s just flavorful enough to be sour and fruity but not much else. Those looking for the presence of wheat, hops, or malts should look elsewhere. It’s almost like a "malternative," but milder.

DRINKABILITY

Whether or not you enjoy the sour taste of Festina Peche is up to your own sense of taste, but I think all drinkers will agree this beer is very easy to get down. The body is thin, slightly watery, and finishes extremely clean (the sourness lingers for only a moment or two, but I find it quite pleasing). This is one of those beers that is actually difficult to drink slowly because it’s so quaffable.

At 4.2% ABV this is actually a little more potent than your average Berliner-Weisse or lambic. But considering the average Dogfish Head beer is about 9% ABV, it’s the featherweight of the family. As a summer seasonal it will do its job well as a refresher on a hot day and would probably pair well with fish or a fruit salad.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With all things that are "acquired tastes" there absolutely must be an introductory entry, and I’d say Dogfish Head Festina Peche does that for sour beers.

At $10 for a four-pack this is rather pricey for a light beer, but that’s only $2.50 a bottle and in today’s economy that’s actually reasonable.

Grade: 7/10

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