Spices in beer don’t typically impress me. I’m not looking to a beer for coriander or clove, and I’ll take just about any style over a wheat beer. But when I heard that Flying Dog, out of Frederick, Maryland, had teamed up with the folks behind Old Bay Seasoning to create Dead Rise Summer Ale, well, I needed to sample this unlikely pairing.
For those not in the natural habitat of Old Bay Seasoning, imagine a salty paprika mixture, rust red in color, typically sprinkled on crabs with abandon and rather tasty on popcorn as well. It’s a bold taste, pronounced but not spicy-hot, one that can dominate, so to pair it with a drinkable beer is a testament to the brewer’s art.
Termed a summer ale, Dead Rise is a wheat beer with a characteristic clove and banana aroma tinged with just a hint of paprika. It drinks quite smoothly, again apropos of a wheat beer, and the effect of a quaff is not unlike eating Utz’s “Crab” Chips, which are coated in a similar spice mixture, the bready nature of the wheat beer capturing the flavor profile of the chips. Which is not to say that drinking Dead Rise is like drinking potato chips—it’s a quite drinkable beer with a very slight paprika aftertaste on the palate. The Old Bay Seasoning sneaks up on you rather than forcing its presence onto the scene.
I had hoped for an unfiltered beer, with succulent paprika sediment, but alas, this is a filtered brew. At 5.6% ABV and restricted to the summer season, Dead Rise would make a nice accompaniment to a cook out. Given my general aversion to wheat beers, I’m not likely to pick up another six pack of this beer, but it’s another bold experiment from Flying Dog that does what it says on the tin . . . er, bottle.