Soaking Up the Suds
by James Crane
An intriquing brew
Someone call the beer police. The people at Dogfish Head brewery have gone insane somewhere along the way and they must be stopped. While most breweries are happy to offer a pale ale, an IPA and a few of the other familiar styles, Dogfish Head just takes it too far. They terrify me with their large bottles of beer with their high alcohol contents and their crazy flavors.
As disgusted as I am by their crimes against beer, I felt it important to know my enemy. This is why, when I came across their Sah’tea brew, I had to get it. It claims to be based on a 9th century Finnish beer. How dare they mix so much history with their brewing? Sure, I recently reviewed their Ta Henket, which was based on ancient Egyptian brews featuring wild yeasts from the region. I even gave it a glowing review. It has to stop somewhere though, right?
In all seriousness, I hope not. Dogfish Head continues to stay at the top of its game because of their continual introduction of unique and delicious brews. Sah’tea in particular was immensely intriguing, promising the inclusion of black chai tea amongst plenty of other varied and flavorful spices and ingredients. This brew is certainly more than just barley and hops.
It had a beautiful pour, though I would expect nothing less. There was about two fingers worth of head that never quite went away. It left lacing down the glass the entire way. It was a murky golden shade with ample bubbles rising up through the brew, promising excellent carbonation. Everything about it looked inviting.
The scent was strong. Though there was a lot going on, I could pick out notes of yeast, spice and something similar to honey mixed with apples. If I looked for it, I could certainly find the tea amidst it all as well. The spices, notably the black pepper, certainly stole the show.
The taste was incredibly complex yet light. I found it best to actually take a hearty swallow of this beer rather than a sip, letting all the different flavors combine and breath in the mouth. The sweet malts, cinnamon, ginger, and clove all played rather nicely together, but were balanced out by the tea and black pepper. There is a bit of an alcoholic burn to it, but it does not detract from the taste. It actually manages to blend in with all the other flavors, bringing them out just that much more. There is also the slight funk of yeast in there as well as the piney flavors of the juniper berry blending in with citrus notes. There may be some floral hops involved or perhaps even bitter, though they blend in with all the spices and black pepper so well that, if they do exist, they are indistinguishable from the whole that is this beer.
Look, don’t actually call the beer police.
First, I don’t think they exist.
Second, Dogfish head must be aloud to continue doing what they are doing. Sah’tea, at its 9 percent ABV, is an incredibly complex beer and one that is worth looking into. While a little too spicy and sweet to be a session beer, it’s certainly worth buying one of the 25-ounce bottles and sharing it with a friend. If you don’t have any friends, this beer will be a great way to make some.