September 20, 2014

Dogfish Head Kvasir and Birra Etrusca

Dogfish Head Kvasir (2013)
Occasional Rarity (Limited Release).
25.4 fl. oz. / $9.99 USD / 10% ABV

About: "With the help of biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern, we've re‐created another Ancient Ale, this time from the Nordic climes of Scandinavia. The recipe for Kvasir was developed with the help of chemical, botanical and pollen evidence taken from a 3,500‐year‐old Danish drinking vessel. The vessel, made of birch bark, was found in the tomb of a leather‐clad woman Dr. Pat says was probably an upper-class dancer or priestess. The analysis pointed to the ingredients used in this unique brew: wheat, lingonberries, cranberries, myrica gale, yarrow, honey and birch syrup.

The base of Kvasir is a toasty red winter wheat, and the bog-grown berries deliver a pungent tartness. While a handful of hops is used, the earthy, bitter counterpunch to the sweet honey and birch syrup comes from the herbs. Food Pairing Recommendations: Sweet-­‐and-­‐sour pork, beef tacos with pickled vegetables, smoked salmon, root vegetables, fresh gingerbread / Glassware Recommendation: Snifter / Wine Comparable: Pressac."

Thoughts: Kvasir poured a vivid orange-red with a thick frothy eggshell white head on top. The beer is incredibly clear, and carbonation is abundant.

Smells like a spiced, alcoholic fruit punch. There's a lot of cranberry all over this, and tons of honey as well. The birch and herbs are what really make this one rather intriguing. It's really sweet smelling, and the spices make it as if it's some exotic herbal candy. I actually really like it.

The first sip of this gives off such a light cranberry juice quality that's it's hard to believe that this is a 10% beer. Then suddenly a rush of bewildering booze flows in that is just strong enough to for you to say "oh there it is" and yet not too strong as to turn you off. This beer is very herbal, very spiced and luckily, not overbearing in the sweetness department. It's not an easy one to describe, since the herbs they used here I had to look up and that birch syrup is masking them a bit. The herbs still come through strong though, but pinpointing just exactly how they taste is proving to be rather difficult. Nonetheless, those two aspects of the beer itself blend together quite nicely. I used to drink birch beer all the time after I first tried it a couple of years back, I never thought that it would go this well with cranberry, but it does, and that's a good thing since this one reeks of cranberry though and through.

I like this beer, though it may be a bit too sweet for me. It doesn't exactly taste anything like a beer though, more like a mead mixed with juice, though that's not a problem for me. I like juice, mead and beer so whatever. Mouth feel is a bit frothy. It's got a soft tartness that you only start to notice as the beer warms towards the second half of the bottle. The bitterness isn't exactly anything I would describe as more than noticeable, as it itself drowns in herbs. You may get a slight puckering affect, but overall it's really fucking sweet and juice-like. If you can get this for 10$ or under I say go for it. I've seen some places trying to sell it for 12-14$ and in my book that's no good. I enjoyed this beer, but it's a bit too sweet for me and while really layered, not complex enough to cut through the sweetness that's represented here.

Dogfish Head BIRRA ETRUSCA Bronze (2012) 
Occasional Rarity (Limited Release).
25.4 fl. oz. / $10.59 USD / 8.5% ABV

About: "To develop the recipe for Birra Etrusca Bronze, Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione traveled to Rome with molecular archaeologist Dr. Pat McGovern. With the help of Birreria Brother Brewers Leo DeVencenzo of Birra del Borgo and Teo Musso of Baladin, they analyzed drinking vessels found in 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs. The backbone of Birra Etrusca comes from two-row malted barley and an heirloom Italian wheat. Specialty ingredients include hazelnut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey and clover honey. A handful of whole-flower hops are added, but the bulk of the bitterness comes from gentian root and the sarsaparilla-like Ethiopian myrrh resin.

Food Pairing Recommendations: Spiced pickles, marinated olives, hearty beer bolognaise / Wine Comparable: Malbec."

Thoughts: Wow. The head on this thing dissipated fast as fuck. I poured it, went for the camera, and it was just fucking full and then gone. Color is a dirty orange, and slightly cloudy. I see a fair abundance of carbonation rising despite what just happened. And then there's that cyclopean bubble gleaming freakishly in the light.

This smells sweet and just a little bit herbal. It's like a wine actually. Grapes are evident here. Actually, it rather reminds me of a mead once again. I've only had a few of those so far but this one really fits that description.

Well, this is some crazy tasting shit right here now innit? It's extremely herbal tasting, fully. It hits hard and instantly before swirling in a circular motion inside the mouth. Damn that sounds dirty. This beer tastes kinda dirty actually... it's malty, sweet and tart. There's a good blend of sweet and tart here and it's really balanced well. It's a pretty strong beer. There's a thick amount of haze that really lays in and spreads throughout the face. There's honey dripping all over my mouth. Spicy honey. Nicely done DFH.

The feel is a little drying, as if it's almost astringent like. That's fitting.  I like this beer a lot. It's out of its fucking mind, and that's a beautiful thing. Dogfish always intrigue me with their ancient ales, and I hope they keep searching for more to do. Trying all of them in a back to back tasting would be absolutely incredible now that I think about it. Someone better get on that, or I may just have to do it myself.

My words are my own and as of posted from their creation forward I hereby claim originality to them. Pictures may prove to be promotional items and are the sole possessions of their respectful owners and/or companies. I do not sell, nor do I buy. I only rent, so therefore, nothing I own is truly mine.