Thursday, July 9, 2009

9. Dogfish Head Sah'tea

Me: “Do you like it?”
Elli: “I like it, but it’s a lot of flavor.”

Dogfish Head Brewery is located at #6 Cannery Village Center, Milton, DE 19968; their Brewpub is at 320 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971.

Sah’tea has a sweet, almost candy malt nose with a honey-colored and slightly hazy body. The carbonation is pretty minimal and there is little to no head. Juniper and chai flavors at the start and then rolling into a sweet middle which carries to the finish. There is a slight bitterness (either a rye spiciness or resiny bitterness; not sure exactly which) after the sweetness. The alcohol flavor comes through as the beer warms, creating a spicier finish as well. We’re not so sure why they bothered adding the chai tea—not so sure that the chai adds much to the beer, and it seems to dampen more than open up the overall profile; after all, if it’s based on a 9th century Finnish recipe, they should have stuck with that. Elli finds the chai distracting; I would have liked a bit more juniper and caramelized malt flavor that the white hot rocks normally produce—the sweetness mentioned above is less caramelized malt and more plain sweetness. While I do love the experimental ethos behind Dogfish Head (see, for example, this New York Times article on their Chicha beer), this one is not as complex and interesting as the majority of their other beers—it seems a bit too showy and predictable.

From the Dogfish Head website: “A modern update on a 9th century Finnish proto-beer. Brewed with rye, we caramelize the wort with white hot river rocks, then ferment it with a German Weizen yeast. In addition to juniper berries foraged directly from the Finnish country-side we added a sort of tea made with black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and black pepper. The spicing is subtle and balanced and Sah'tea is a highly-quaffable, truly-unique brew with a full-mouth feel.

The Sah'tea was first brewed at our small brewery in the Rehoboth Beach brewpub. The brew was chronicled in The New Yorker article by Burkhard Bilger in the fall of 2008.”

ABV: 9%
IBU: 6


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