Pumpkin beer may be creeping onto store shelves, but there's one more summer beer I'd be remiss in not reviewing before Labor Day.
Dogfish Head Festina Peche is one of my favorite beers to enjoy on a hot day. I used to hate the beer. I took home a four-pack of this several years ago expecting something sweet. Peach beer? How could that be bad? Thinking the beer would taste something like Magic Hat No. 9, I was in for a shock when the beer tasted more sour than sweet. At that time, I didn't like it. Many of you probably had the same experience.
Now I can't get enough of it. Festina Peche is in the style of a traditional German Berliner Weisse. It's a style that's intentionally tart, low in alcohol, and meant to be refreshing. Fermented with an ale yeast, lactic cultures produce the beer's trademark green-apple-like acidity.
Sour beers take some getting used to, but I do think they're worth your while. Dogfish brews theirs with peaches. Rather than make the beer sweet, the sugar from the peaches ferments out during brewing, leaving behind fruity character and aroma. Poured into a glass, Festina Peche is clear with just a hint of orange color. Take a whiff and you get the familiar smell of peaches. You wouldn't be wrong to linger here.
The first sip is bracing. It's immediately tart, with apple skin and lemon up front on the tongue. Somewhere back there is peach, and it's welcome. If you can get past it on the front end, the sourness provides levity on the back end. The beer is dry, the finish crisp. Like a sparkling water with lemon, it's hard to imagine something more refreshing.
Berliners are admittedly not for everyone. Many reviewers on popular beer websites slam the beer, asking, in essence, "what the heck happened here?" I'm not going to go to pretense and suggest that only people with sophisticated palates will like this beer. If sour isn't your thing, neither is Festina Peche.
If you like this beer, I reviewed another of the Berliner Weisse style earlier this summer. That offering, from New Hampshire's White Birch Brewing, is also exceptional. Picking up either to enjoy on a lazy afternoon is a good idea before the weather turns.