Dogfish Head Kvasir
For the most part, I’ve been a solid fan of what Dogfish Head brewing has done with their Ancient Ales series. It all started off with my first encounter with their Midas Touch and has continued all the way through the latest offering in the series, the 10% ABV Kvasir. The recipe for this particular brew was “…developed with the help of chemical, botanical and pollen evidence taken from a 3,500-year-old Danish drinking vessel.”
As a result of this evidence, helped culled by the brewery’s Ancient Ales partner in crime Dr. Patrick McGovern, the beer was ultimately brewed with a combination of wheat, lingonberries, cranberries, myrica gale, yarrow, honey and birch syrup. The result should taste something like this description from Dogfish Head’s website:
The base of Kvasir is a toasty red winter wheat, and the bog-grown berries deliver a pungent tartness. While a handful of hops is used, the earthy, bitter counterpunch to the sweet honey and birch syrup comes from the herbs. – See more at: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/occasional-rarities/kvasir/index.htm#sthash.8xmhoD8Z.dpuf
Now, I don’t know if I would call the influence of the berries all that pungent. There’s certainly a level of tartness present, but it’s certainly not over-powering. And much like several of the recent releases in this series, Kvasir has a character not at all dissimilar with a gruit. Perhaps that’s due to the nature of the “ancient” ingredients each of the beers in this line of releases if crafted with.
Kvasir pours a brilliant golden amber in color with a small head of off-white foam that fell slowly to a light surface cover.
The beer smells herbal and floral with hints of berries, honey, ginger and cranberry juice. There’s a measure of tartness that tingles the nose and causes the mouth to salivate in preparation.
The initial impression I got form Kvasir is that it was very similar to a gruit, but with pronoucced fruit presence and tartness. The tartness is of a moderate level in nature and lingers nicely in the warming and lasting finish. I do pick up the honey and cranberry, but not sure much else stands out from the crowd — maybe some ginger as it warms.
I liked Kvasir. While it carries a similar overall character to other recent Ancient Ales — primarily the gruit traits — it is a step up from the Birra Etrusca which I though was just sort of there. The mixture of ingredients within Kvasir, however, is enough to separate it from the rest of the line in the series with a more unique flavor profile. This line of beers is always fun to explore and sample, but I’m not sure that they offer much in the way of revisitation. If I want a big beer from Dogfish Head, I’ll stick with their mighty World Wide Stout.