of the things that I love about craft beer is when brewers are able to
make a great beer from a combination of ingredients that you’d never
think would go together. Dogfish Head Positive Contact is an excellent
example of what I mean as it’s brewed with cider, spices, wheat, and
peppers. That sounds like an odd recipe – and indeed it is – but in this
case “odd” equates to high quality.
I poured a 750ml bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled in 2013 and cost $3.99 [marked down from $13.99] ($0.16 per ounce).
Appearance: A near glowing shade of flame orange. Body starts out
relatively clear but becomes cloudier as more particulates and sediment
can be seen floating. Pours to a large, white, foamy head which laces
and retains very well. Alcohol legs are visible.
Smell: Mostly apple cider and apple sauce, though the spices are evident
as well. Faint Belgian-esque yeast esters seem present as well.
Taste: I always enjoy trying a bizarre brew, and even more so when it
tastes good. When I took my first sip, my palate was inundated with a
mélange of flavors and my brain wasn’t quite sure how to process it. I
will say that apple cider/sauce was the most prominent characteristic.
There seems to be a touch of cinnamon or brown sugar present, though
that’s probably the Cayenne pepper. Towards the middle the cilantro and
roasted farro begin to emerge and impart a light, slightly zesty taste.
It follows up the apple surprisingly well. The backend incorporates mild
bitterness and additional apple and pear flavors (some of that probably
due to the use of Calypso hops). I detect a subtle warming sensation in
the throat from the peppers. I’ve never had this beer fresh, so I’m
wondering how intense it was at the time. Two years in the bottle do not
seem to have harmed it all. There is a faint butterscotch flavor
probably due to oxidation, but it works with the apple flavor so no harm
Drinkability: Considering that Dogfish Head Positive Contact is both a
big beer at 9% ABV and also brewed with peppers, you’re inclined to
believe that it might be a challenge to drink. Perhaps two years in the
cellar has tamed what might otherwise be a beast because this is a
pleasant drinking experience in every way. There’s definitely viscosity
to the mouthfeel, and yet there’s plenty of carbonation still present.
It’s super smooth going down with just a faint warmth from the alcohol
and/or pepper. There’s not much aftertaste, for better or for worse.
This would be an ideal brew to pair with Thanksgiving dinner.