Organic Cherry Ale, Samuel Smith

It’s all about expectations. This is why relationships fail. And why blind dates end in disaster. Reality mixes with your expectations, setting off an interesting chemical reaction.

Sam Smith Brewery has been making beer in the U.K. since the mid-1700s. Unless you are complete heathen who only drinks Bud Light or whatever is on special at your local gas station, you probably have seen (and maybe tried) something by Sam Smith’s brewery. You probably don’t know that (with one exception) all of Sam Smith’s brews are vegan.

Sam Smith brews tend to be reliably drinkable and traditionally made (yes, you can taste this). We picked up the Organic Cherry Ale at our last trip to the Wall of Beer at Ward’s. I’m a cider fan, but a fruit beer will also do. The Man is very patient with me on this. He likes IPAs and high ABV Belgian beers that are like getting hit in the mouth by a sack full of flavors. He doesn’t take my more timid approach to beers well.

Anyhow, I was tempted first onto the beer path through Lindeman’s lambic beer, often flavored with fruit. I challenge anyone who dislikes beer to have some of this and say it even tastes like beer. There’s nothing beer about it. Lambic beer is a seasonal beer that is very mild because it is spontaneously fermented, and the ingredients are selected to have very subtle flavors.

Not so for any of the Sam Smith brews. I went into this cherry ale thinking of the delicate Lindeman’s kriek (cherry) lambic, which it is not. Lindeman’s is a fair and cultured lady, where Smith’s is her country cousin that wears boots and mucks out the barn. Not that it is bad. It’s loud with sweet and sour cherry flavors, a bold ale body underneath, and a flurry of bold bubbles.

My fault was the expectations I had. Once I adjusted my brain and started drinking it again, the cherry ale went down a bit better. It had a great big fragrance of cherry pie, but the taste of cherry wasn’t quite as strong. The earthier notes of the grains came through better after I got past the shock of the sweet cherry. In fact, as I drank it, it lost the sweetness of the cherries and was left with that super tart flavor which was refreshing.

The Man had a hard time with it because he was thinking of ale when he started drinking it, and he quickly got burnt out on the fruit flavors and the sweetness. The hoppiness came out after a while, which filled out the flavors of grains and fruit. But for him, it has been permanently consigned to the “baby, you finish that so I can drink my good beer” list.

Overall it wasn’t bad. Samuel Smith consistently produces good beer. This is one of those things you can only drink one of. In fact, share it with a couple of people for an evening of beer tasting just for fun. Just be aware that if you invite this girl, she’ll still be wearing her boots from mucking out the barn. I’ll stick to the Lindeman’s lambic.

Samuel Smith
Organic Cherry Ale
1 Pint Bottle | 5.10% ABV
Price: $4.50-6.50

[Girl21]

Dogfish Head, Namaste

Dogfish Head, NamasteI’m not a girly-girl but I’ve never much cared for beer. I am German. I come from a long line of German drinkers. My last name is synonymous with beer. Every time I say I don’t like beer, I can feel generations of ancestors turning in their graves.

When The Man and I first started dating, he told me he was going to teach me how to love beer and spicy food. Not doing so good with spicy food, but he’s making headway with the beer. I am starting to appreciate beer the same way I appreciate wine and cigars. Unfortunately, he likes the super-hoppy IPAs which make my face want to turn inside out.

I don’t know what I like yet. I haven’t found it. But I’m searching. I used to shoe shop and go a little crazy when I found a pair of Steve Maddens in my size on clearance. Now I impulse-buy beer. What? Yes, I had my first pointless beer splurge the other day. It’s hard not to when you’re standing at the Great Beer Wall in Ward’s. “I would look GREAT holding that bottle!”

Not quite that silly, but since I don’t know what I like, I am willing to take a few wild shots in the dark. Hence the bottle of Dogfish Head Namaste Ale that chilled in the fridge for three days, staring at me, while I decided if I was going to try it. It’s ale, brewed with orange, lemongrass, and coriander. Unusual.

The Man decided on scotch one night, but I wasn’t up for that, so I opened the Namaste. It was a pretty little drink, reminding me more of a good cider than a beer. The bouquet of flavors are balanced and work in harmony. The orange and lemongrass add fresh notes, while the coriander mellows it with a soft earthy tone. It creates a variety of delicate, false flavors that flirt with the tongue without revealing themselves. Hints of lavender, caramel, cardamom, and pear surface barely long enough to wink playfully before disappearing.

“Namaste” is one of those multi-use terms, like ‘aloha’ or ‘dude’. The simple meaning is “the spark of god in me honors the spark of god in you.” Or some such hippie variations. With that same spirit, I am approaching beer. Starting slow with a mild, frilly beer like this Dogfish Head variation. Namaste.

Dogfish Head
Namaste
750 mL bottle | $7-9

Brewpub:
320 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

Brewery:
#6 Cannery Village Center
Milton, DE 19968

[Girl21]