|Great Lakes Brewing Co. 2007
Some may say I'm just bullshitting, but when I observed myself busily scribbling down notes in my Daytimer at the Great Lakes Brewing Co brewpub, I
realised that I'd become serious in my passion. I mean, this wasn't an academic wally wearing a beret at a cafe on the left-bank of Paris; it was just one
bloke who underwent a revelation in Cleveland, Ohio. I found myself going into deep thoughts for long periods, which exemplified the philosophical
approach I was now taking, and going into "deep" thoughts is quite an achievement for this bloke from the culture of chips, peas and football.
Furthermore, a line from a Unibroue (classic Quebec brewery) advertisment became my mantra -- Drink less, Drink better.
I'm not Ohio's answer to Michael Jackson -- I don't have "Professional Drinker" written in my passport (I wouldn't say no to it though!), but with all the humour,
I treat my road trips and tastings with the upmost seriousness. The difference between me and Michael Jackson being, if I think a beer is great, I'll say it's
GREAT; if I think it's shite, I'll say it's SHITE!
And all this from a trip to Cleveland! If I ever make a Bogrolls & Barley Wines trip to California or New York, I'll be asking for a bloody Knighthood!
But, the trip -- Let's cut straight to the ales.
If you're sitting comfortably, I'll begin.
1) Moondog Ale (5%) -- At the very outset, this is the creme de la creme of Great Lakes brews; the Royal Doulton of ales; the Rolex of English-style
Bitters. If a Geiko caveman tasted it, he'd be saying "I am, I think I am..." At 5% ABV, Moondog Ale is more like what British brewers call an Extra Bitter.
Nevertheless, for our tasting pleasure, what we have here is a deep bronze ale, with a spicy, peppery character and grassy, fruity, rich hop flavours. Quite
simply, an American meritorious classic; possibly the finest American ale I've ever tasted. Why the GLBC have relegated this peach of an ale to merely an
on tap seasonal, completely baffles me. And before anyone asks, Yes -- I have the t-shirt! A no-brainer 11/10
2) Independence Ale (6%) -- Named after yet another example of a "strategic British withdrawal", the Independence Ale is a red ale with a crisp, powerful
hop character. It features minimal sweetness, with a noticeable bitter finish. I thought this was an extremely "moorish" ale. Not hoppy enough to wear an
IPA label; rather a big brother to the Burning River Pale Ale. A huge seller at the brewpub, we were just lucky enough to arrive on the weekend this ale was
on tap. An independent 9/10
3) The Lorelei (5.1%) -- Based on the German Dunkelweizen, this ghastly dark offering was wheaty, tangy and malty. Dark amber/brown in colour, it left the
tastebuds with a sickly sweet sensation that the darker Belgian Trappist ales are renowned for. Good job it's a seasonal on tap only. Liquid Plumber for the
4) Dortmunder Gold (5.8%) -- A gold-medal winner at 11 of the last 14 World Beer Championships (with a silver medal thrown in as well), this golden
Dortmunder-style beer starts off with a gorgeous fruity, flowery aroma. The flavour gives a perfect balance between the sweet malts and the dry hops, with a
mild hoppy finish and a clean refreshing aftertaste. Clearly a superb flagship American pilsner -- Budvar and Pilsner Urquell would be proud of this little
By the way, did you know that the Dortmunder style takes its name from 19th century Dortmund, when seven breweries within the city were brewing the same
style of ale? As Michael Caine would say "Not a lot of people know that!".
5) Oktoberfest (6.5%) -- A silver-medal winner at the 2007 World Beer Championships, the Oktoberfest is a big brother to the Eliot Ness Amber Lager,
where a mild hop character plays second fiddle to a rich, malt dominance. Not too dissimilar to Anchor Bock, this style of lager -- first created in 19th century
Vienna -- became ever increasingly malty as it warmed up and the longer it continued, the more it reminded me that the bog needs cleaning. Nice Belgian
lace though. A rather generous 2/10
6) Nosferatu (8%) -- This absolutely hideous "thing" is described as a "strong red ale". It is indeed strong, and is packed full of hops and packed full of
malts: the end result being an overpowering, confusing mish-mash of an ale with no distinguishing character whatsoever. Some time back, Lord McGinnis
wrote a particularly exquisite, almost poetic review of this ale, which WB Yeats would have been proud of (sadly, he never submitted it for the website). I
certainly can't add anything to that review, except perhaps a couple (or four) of humble words to further describe this excuse of an ale: COMPLETE AND
UTTER BOLLOCKS! 0/10
7) Commodore Perry IPA (7.5%) -- Oliver Hazard Perry is the bloke who supposedly lead the American navy to a jammy victory over His Majesty's Royal
Navy at the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813. We here at Roberts Manor have it on reliable authority that this event was yet another "strategic withdrawal" by our
gallant lads -- especially as the command came from King George III... "Don't give up the bog rolls". Anyway, the Commodore Perry IPA is a delightful
example of a true, full-strength IPA -- rich, syrupy, with (as it warms up) a cascading symphony of hop flavours: a distinguished hoppy Prelude; a princely
hoppy Adagio; a supremely hoppy Scherzo; a toweringly hoppy Allegro; a sumptuously hoppy Nocturne; and a magnificently hoppy Finale. Yep, not too
hoppily shab, but not for the faint hearted, nor those of a weak disposition. 10/10
8) Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (5.8%) -- This thoroughly horrendous monstrosity actually gave me heart palpitations and that was from just the aroma!
Regarded as a classic of its type and one of the most highly decorated of the Great Lakes brews, the Edmund Fitzgerald is a rich, somewhat thick porter
which offers a roasted barley aroma before descending to a hop lovers nightmare of dark, burnt, chocolatey malt flavours, with some molasses thrown in for
extra torture. There's an excruciating bittersweet aftertaste, thanks to the ale being underscored by some hefty hops. Thoroughly vile on all possible
9) Holy Moses White Ale (5.4%) -- Described as "A Belgian Wit Ale spiced with orange peel, chamomile and coriander", the Holy Moses is a well crafted
wheat ale -- a perfect summer refresher in the hot, sticky Ohio Valley. Sadly, like the Burning River Pale Ale, this ale does not travel well outside of
Cleveland and versions on tap in Columbus have been flat, tasteless and rancid, rather like tasting orange flavoured dishwater. Thus, I've avoided this ale
like the plague in our area of the state. However, the Bogrolls & Barley Wine team noted the freshness of the ales on tap at the Great Lakes brewpub (the
ales being delivered straight to the taps via lines from the holding tanks), so throwing caution to the wind, I decided to give the Holy Moses a second chance.
The aroma had a faint smell of cloves -- a promising start, and the initial tastes were certainly citrusy, reminding me of a tin of Del Monte Orange Segments.
Mid-tastes gave delicious hints of citrusy lime -- dare I say, a ripper of a wheat ale; a beautiful finale and certainly the surprise of the evening. The moral of
the story? Drink the Holy Moses in Cleveland; anywhere else, it's like drinking cats piss. A well deserved 8/10
10) St.Bernardus Abt 12 (10.5%) -- The following morning, while perusing the West Side Market, I noticed a Belgian bar, called Bier Markt, which had been
recommended some time back by our old mate and tour guide Terry. What better way to finish the trip than by tasting on tap a Belgian ale? I have three
bottles of the Abt 12 in The Roberts Manor cellar, including the 60th Anniversary edition, but to taste it on tap is a very rare treat. It's regarded as the
flagship ale of the St.Bernardus brewery and is described as a "Quadruple Ale". Dark brown in colour, with an appealing creamy frothy head, this highly
fermented ale is fruity without being hoppy, with just a little bit of malt, and as smooth as a baby's bum. The finish is as equally smooth with no nasty
aftertaste. You'd never know you were drinking a 10.5% ale. An absolute classic. The St.Bernardus Tripel is another classic of its type -- much favoured by
Lady Roberts for that matter . 9/10
And that, comrades, endith the lesson and royal review from a particularly fine evening in Cleveland.
Cheers! (for now)
|“The Lorelei? GHASTLY!!!”