Fearful Symmetries

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15 September, 2015

The Pinot Grigio of Beers: Festina Peche from Dogfish Head



Dogfish Head's summer seasonal is Festina Peche, a "neo-Berliner Wiesse" made with peach. To demonstrate just how beloved craft beer is here in Madison, I can tell you that this beer was on sale at the BP on the 2800 block of Atwood Avenue. Even our little neighborhood gas stations have relatively generous selections of good beer. At least those gas stations in nice, hip middle class neighborhoods.

Dogfish Head is well known for its IPAs with temporal names as well as more extreme beers, amongst which is 120 Minute IPA, a brew that is 15-20% A.B.V. and 120 I.B.U.s. World Wide Stout and Olde School Barleywine, Fort, and perhaps others are also quite potent being in the 15-20% A.B.V. range. The brewery is not afraid to use ingredients not normally involved in brewing, such as raisins and granola, including ones little-known to the modern American palate like wattleseed and gesho root. Their Ancient Ales series is a bit of beer archaeology in which the brewery recreates the brews of yore using as their guide the residues left on millennia old pottery.

Considering that I genuinely appreciate their often off-centered approach and their willingness to unleash beers completely out of left field, I would think that I'd drink their beer more often than once every several years. Truth be told, when DH pulled out of Wisconsin back in 2011, I couldn't have cared less. For one thing, I have no interest in IPAs made by the brewing equivalents of Vestal virgins would do nothing but add hops to an eternally boiling batch of beer. Secondly, DH's beer tends to be expensive. By no means are all of their brews abhorrently priced to a parsimonious person such as myself, but I tend to notice 12 oz bottles priced at $9-10 most often and recoil in penurious horror.

Lastly, Dogfish Head are one of the primary offenders of portraying craft beer as the domain of a bunch of petite bourgeoisie lotus-eaters. Witness how their American Beauty beer "captures the spirits of the band's (the Grateful Dead) 30 years of touring and recording." At first I wondered if there was LSD in the beer. Also note how DH lists a comparable wine for their beers. Piercing Pils isn't just comparable to a Riesling, it's comparable to a "Late-harvest Riesling". It is this kind of stuff that explains why Budweiser hits so close to home when they poke fun at the craft brew scene with commercials that say, "Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale. We'll be brewing some golden suds" and tweets that read "Nobody cheers for the guy who brings a watermelon wheat beer."

Craft beer was formerly microbrew and microbrew was about drinking beer that had flavor instead of being some kind of homeopathic preparation which may have been a part of beer at one time but was left with only malty memories of it. Today craft beer drinkers are expected to pair their brew of choice with French cheeses and understand the difference between early- and late-harvest Rielsings.

Rant over. Is Festina Peche any good?

Sorry about the lousy photo. I just cannot take a decent photograph unless it's near the summer solstice and the sun is shining high in the sky. Festina Peche is a lovely straw color and is slightly hazy. My pour produced only a small, fizzy head that dissipated rather quickly. You can kinda sorta see in the photograph how there was a modicum of bubbles in the beer going up. Not exactly "Champagne of the North" in appearance but still quite inviting.

The aroma was inviting as well with the lactic lemony/citrus tartness being the first thing I managed to smell as well as being the most prominent scent. Beneath it was a bit of peach as well as crackery notes. That wonderful citrusy lactic tartness comes shining through upon tasting the beer. The sourness here is what I'd describe as moderate and much, much more subdued than my near death experience drinking Destihl's Counter Clockweisse. On the other hand, the tartness here is prominent yet it allows other flavors, such as a hint of bread/grain, to come through. It is said that appearances can be deceiving and so it is here. Festina Peche may not look to be the most effervescent beer ever brewed, but the carbonation comes through to your tongue and so there's a bit of dryness to counter the sour.

And what of the peach? I found the fruit's flavor to have been rather faint. I put the beer all over my tongue and let it rest on the roof of my mouth and against my cheeks but the peach flavor remained distant. It was present and easily discernible but I was disappointed, at first. Then again, Dogfish Head never promised a wave of peach would come bursting through my door like the Kool-Aid guy. After a while I came to rather appreciate the level of peach in the beer.

Festina Peche finished with a lingering lactic tartness along with some dryness from the carbonation. Alas and alack, my glass was left with no Schaumhaftvermoegen.
To answer the question I posed above: Yes, Festina Peche is good. Very good indeed. The tartness was not overbearing which meant that it played well with the other flavors. While I would have liked to have tasted more peach, this is no hanging offense. I found Festina Peche to be quite sessionable. It is 4.5% A.B.V. which is perhaps just a smidge high for the style but, more importantly, it has the requisite light body and flavors that never overpower. Instead it offers a tasty blend of flavors that find a nice balance with one another.

Junk food pairing: Pair Festina Peche with some Walkers Crispy Duck and Hoisin potato chips for the main course. When dessert rolls around try FP with a waffle cone of Cherry Amaretto Fudge ice cream from the Chocolate Shoppe.

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|| Palmer, 12:06 PM

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