Monday, November 2, 2015

Dogfish Head Positive Contact (2013 vintage)

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (1491) - Albany, New York, USA - NOV 2, 2015
One 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 no foul.

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.

RATING: 9/10

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