Sea Dog Bluepaw Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale

Review Date 10/15/2007   Last Updated 4/19/19  By John Staradumsky

Today I’m going to talk about a very dirty word to anybody who loves beer or any alcoholic beverage. That word is prohibition (GASP!). Many people are aware of the nationwide effort to ban the manufacture, sale, and consumption within the United States during the period from 1920 when the Volstead act was made law and it’s subsequent repeal in 1933. This was a tragic period in American history and a great example of the intrusion into an individual’s private life by government and special interests that we still see here in the 21st century.

What many people don’t realize is that prohibition was not new in this country in the twenties. Though it had never been attempted on a national scale, it had indeed been enacted in many states during the mid to late 19th century, though not with the vigor with which it was pursued during the roaring twenties. To be sure, early attempts at prohibition in the 1850s were a display of Protestant zeal, but they were also a nativist reaction against the massive influx of German and Irish immigrants who enjoyed their drink and came from a culture that embraced pubs and beer gardens as a social event, as most European cultures did.

The first state to enact a mandatory temperance law was Maine in 1851, and as a result the prohibition laws of the day were known as Maine Laws. The Maine Laws did spread to other states but never were efficiently enforced and
were eventually repealed.

Today, of course, Maine is attempting to atone for its sin against beer by producing a wide array of delicious craft brewed ales and lagers. The state has become one of the nations premiere brewing centers thanks to the efforts of brewers like Sea Dog, formerly of Camden but now a brand owned by Shipyard. Sea Dog had a location in Bangor as well, and used a Peter Austin system with the famous Ringwood yeast at both breweries.

One of my favorite Sea Dog beers has been their Bluepaw Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale. Maine is famous for its blueberries as well as its beer, and this beverage combines the two perfectly to create a crisp, refreshing libation perfect for the sweltering summer heat. Though some are averse to fruit in their beer, I love it, and in my estimation blueberries work extremely well in beer. Sea Dog’s Bluepaw is lighter bodied than Bar Harbor’s Blueberry ale , and therefore more drinkable if a bit less flavorful. I would put it a peg beneath my (now) local blueberry ale, Sweetwater Blue .

The label used to say "wheat ale brewed with blueberry juice"; now it claims this is a "wheat ale with natural flavor". It’s a cloudy yellow in color with good carbonation and a prodigious head as well as a rich blueberry-pie nose. The blueberry flavor is a bit more subdued than in the past but still delicious against a crisp wheat background. The beer isn’t at all overpowering or cloying. There's a faint touch of buttery Ringwood character but it's very light, much lighter than in most Ringwood brews. The finish is nicely balanced, leaning ever so slightly to the sweet side. A perfect summer refresher, even if I think I liked it better when the company was independent.

I think that today, in 2007, Bluepaw seems a bit lighter overall than it has in the past, or at least the bottle I'm sipping today is. Blueberry beers do make a perfect summer beer with their quenching character, but with the weather as it is lately (77 degrees at 6 PM in mid-October), this is a great beer for fall as well. Why not enjoy a bottle while watching your favorite football team?

And just for fun, try dropping a few blueberries in your glass as you sip and enjoy with a dish of vanilla ice cream for a cool refreshing dessert.

Update 11/9/2016: Here's a first: Sea Dog Bluepaw Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale on tap at Taco Mac. Sea Dog, as mentioned above, is now a Shipyard brand, and though I have seen both in bottles here in Georgia, this is the first time I've ever seen a Shipyard beer in draft form here in Georgia. The beer has a lovely crisp biscuit maltiness, is lightly  buttery, with vibrant fresh blueberries and a tart wheat finish. A lot like a slice of blueberry pie in a glass ($6), I'm so happy to revisit this old friend.

Update 4/19/2019: Here I am again enjoying yet another trip down memory lane with a delicious can of Seadog Bluepaw Wild Blueberry Wheat. I picked this up in South Carolina (I have never seen it in Georgia) and I wish I had bought more. It's a great deal at just $8.99 for a 6-pack of cans. Love the juicy blueberry fruit popping against the biscuit malt and soft buttery notes.

From the Sea Dog website:

Our unique contribution to the fruit ale category features the nutty quench of wheat ale combined with the delightful aromatics and subtle fruit flavor contributed by Maine wild blueberries

2-Row British Pale Ale, Malted Wheat & Light Munich
Williamette, Hallertau
Top Fermenting English

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.

(B)=Bottled, canned