Friday, April 5, 2013
Review: Dogfish Head's Positive Contact
I was in the beverage center today, intent on picking up a bottle of Dogfish Head's Chateau Jiahu, but I stumbled upon this beer too. I picked it up and started reading the description on the label (thank God Dogfish does that so openly) and found that it sounded just odd enough to be worth the $14 for a bottle. The story listed on Dogfish Head's website is that Positive Contact was born through a collaboration with Dan the Automator of the hip-hop group Deltron 3030. It's a blend of what Dogfish wanted to use as a base and a bunch of ingredients which Dan liked.
The ingredients list is what got me so curious in the first place. I'm a fan of Shock Top End of the World Midnight Wheat, which incorporates chili into the mix for an odd kick that goes along so well with the chocolate malt used in that beer. So when I saw that cayenne and cilantro were in this beer, that settled it for me. I had to see what other beers using spicy ingredients like peppers or chili tasted like. Thus, I ended up with this very interesting and complex cider-ale (yes, it boasts that it's made with apple cider - Fuji cider to be exact, but feels like more). So let's see how this strange beer holds up:
I couldn't be happier. The beer looks light and golden in color, as you'd expect from any other cider (though this isn't exactly a cider, but I may refer to it as such throughout). It's interesting because at 9% ABV and with such a range of ingredients, I suppose I expected a darker amber beer. Still, the head on this beer is ridiculous and the lacing is superb (probably the finest I've seen).
Positive Contact is very aromatic. Immediately I smelled the very fresh-smelling cider notes, but with each consequent nosing I noticed more and more. It definitely smells like there are spices present, which is probably the cayenne and cilantro. It's a complex smell, and I very much like it.
Just as complex as the aroma of this beer is its taste. I think it should be noted that it tastes more like a cider than anything else because spices that are like chili or peppers should be paired with chocolate or other darker malts to reach their full potential. But I do like that the notes of spice aren't completely hidden. It's flavorful, even sweet, but it bites enough to give it a strong presence.
Positive Contact definitely feels like a cider and very much drinks like one, which is great. While the body of this beer is very cider-like, there is a rounding-out effect created by the spicy notes.
Even more than in the mouthfeel and taste of this beer, the spicy notes come out in the finish. A light amount of sweetness lingered around, but the kicks of the cayenne and cilantro stayed with me for a while. It's a flavorful, welcome feeling.
Total Score: 99/100
Positive Contact is damn close to perfect, in my honest opinion. It's approachable, odd, and interesting all at once. Any fan of Woodchuck would probably dig this beer because it's up their alley, but strays from the path in nice ways. It's a handsome, flavorful beer that is fully drinkable and enjoyable.
Until next time, cheers!