Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I am so done with lagers

The Columbia Beer Enthusiasts met last night in Sycamore for our second in a series of monthly beer tastings. This time, we focused on the lager. This choice provided a certain challenge to our group since the style is often associated with the swill of Budweiser, Miller, Coors, etc.

Luckily for me, I had a hook-up in supplying my contribution for the evening. Mom visited us a week ago and brought along two very excellent lagers from Cleveland's own Great Lakes Brewing Company. The Dortmunder Gold is the brewery's "flagship beer" and has stocked up a ton of awards over the years. The second beer was the Eliot Ness Amber Lager, named for Cleveland's most famous safety director.

I recently started to keep a moleskin notebook with all my beer experiences, but I left my notes at home and don't have a list to share. However, I'm sure a list will appear at the group's website in due time.

Of course, there were a few highlights that I don't need a notebook to remember. First of all, I should note that it was surprising to me just how varied and tasty good lagers can be. Although lagers are generally light on flavor, the variety shared last night was more impressive than I expected.

Now, on to the beers...

It's been a couple years since I was in Hawaii, but I clearly remember Kona Brewing's Longboard Island Lager. It was the only decent beer I could get on Molokai. I was happy to find that this beer held its own at the tasting among all the mainland elite.

A surprise I found from a brewery I love was Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock. It wasn't surprising that Bell's makes a great lager. I just had never opted for a lager from my favorite brewing company. The best thing about a bock (or doppelbock in this case) is that it makes you forget you're drinking lager. The doppelbock is the crisp cousin to the porter. It's dark, rich and full of malty goodness. Another good doppelbock was the tasty Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock.

Another beer that surprised from a brewer that doesn't was Coney Island Sword Swallower from Shmaltz Brewing Company (aka He'Brew). The label proclaimed this beer to be a "steel hop lager," whatever that means. This was by far the hoppiest beer of the night - in the IPA tradition of hoppiness. There may have been tones of hops in other beers, but this beer maintained a light crispness that allowed the hops to shine through, not something normally found in a lager.

Easily my favorite beer of the night was the Eliot Ness Amber Lager I brought. The dark copper color led to a nutty sweetness I won't soon forget. I have to say that I love a lager and am not afraid to admit it.

Overall, our second tasting was a success, but I remembered why I don't drink a lot of lagers. For one, I was malted-out by the end of the night. It was particularly hard to distinguish most of the beers after drinking nothing but lagers and water all evening. Next time, I'll bring some food. Secondly, any imported lager in a green bottle risks being skunked. Although most of the green bottled brews were fine, I couldn't help but sense a little skunkiness in both the aroma and flavor. Brown bottles are the only way to go. Finally, lagers sort of make me feel like shit. I still have an awful taste in my mouth, an upset stomach, and a dull headache. I liked most of what I tasted, but I won't do a session of lagers again for a while.

Our next meeting (August 25th at Sycamore) will feature India pale ales and hefeweizens - two of my favorite styles. The thinking was that two styles would provide us with some variety, a little contrast. Where it was a challenge to find a decent lager, this time will be a challenge to find something unique that no one has had.

10 comments:

Pizza Cottontail said...

The funny thing about lagers is that they're actually tougher to make than ales. Which is funny, because lagers are so bland for the most part.

GE said...

You may be in Misery, but it sounds like you're drinking some fine brews. Very nice. So, what's the deal with the green bottle skunkiness? Is that a scientific conclusion or anecdotal?

comoprozac said...

The link explains it.

Skunked

comoprozac said...

For those who are interested, the list of lagers sampled is up.

ks said...

Drinking that much lager usually makes my legs cramp (badly) the next day....so I hear you on the "makes me feel like shit" remark. I just found beer-nirvana near my house....in the form of a little neighborhood market. I'll have to start sampling the many small-craft brews they stock. Hope you're feeling better now.

comoprozac said...

I am feeling better. Thanks. Actually, I started my recovery once I considered the possibilities for next month's tasting.

ks said...

Update us on all of the IPA's you sample. I'm looking forward to it.

comoprozac said...

Will do. In the meantime, one can check the running list here.

tellthattothesardines said...

The only thing more satisfying than Eliot Ness' law enforcement abilities is the beer that's been named after him.

comoprozac said...

True that.