Dogfish Head’s SeaQuench Ale: Two of the most intriguing brewing trends over the past few years play to opposing ends of the suds spectrum. One is the “session” beer, which takes a powerful, pungent, and usually boozy style like a West Coast IPA, tones it down a tad on all fronts, and presents a beer that’s more easily likable to a wider array of palates and doesn’t get you wasted in a few sips. The other is the sour craze, which plays to the most adventurous of ale-nauts by using wild yeast and curious bacteria (rather than just clean Saccharomyces yeast) to produce tart, acidic, and funky flavors.
This new beer from craft pioneers Dogfish Head combines those trends to present a session sour, and it accomplishes both goals. It’s sour and a tad funky, thanks to the use of sea salt, lime juice, and wondrously bizarre black limes, a sun-dried treat from the Middle East that deserves its own story. But it’s also very mellow compared to the usual sour beer, making it approachable to those who fear tartness, quite refreshing, and, yes, sessionable to those of us who crave the pungent acidity.
And it’s actually a lot more interesting than that. As a nod to the 500th anniversary of the German Beer Purity Law, SeaQuench is actually a combination of three German beer styles: Kölsch, Gose, and Berliner Weiss. Plus, the sea salt involved was made to replicate what is found in the waters of Maine and the Chesapeake Bay, a project the Delaware-based brewery conducted with the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. Call it a session sour for smarty-pants.