US Beer Review: Brooklyn Lager

I first drank Brooklyn Lager last November across the Hudson in Manhattan (see American Beer Special) but having spotted it on offer in my local Sainsbury this week I decided to give it another spin. I’m usually suspicious of the “L” word, but this only truly applies to “those” brands and other closely related liquids on nearby shelves, not the craft variety or German/Belgian types.

I’m a massive fan of the US craft beer movement and as soon as I hear that a beer has been dry-hopped (i.e. fresh hops are added during maturation) then I know I’m likely to enjoy it. Staying true to a Viennese style lager, Brooklyn Lager is has a deep caramel hue stemming from its American two-row malts. The nose has that New World hoppiness to it – floral from the Cascade hops, clean lagerness from the Hallertauer hops.

It’s smooth and well-balanced and even has a hint of raisin about it. It’s a good, clean beer and shows how far the bar has been raised by US beer producers in recent decades that it’s not even amongst my favourite American beers.

The essentials:

ABV: 5.2%

Colour:  Deep caramel, amber

Nose: Fresh and floral

Taste: Sweet citrus and a little dried fruit

Our verdict: A great session beer and potential cross-over for the lager drinker who wants to build a palate for craft ale. Very contemporary taste.


Video: American Beer Special from New York

The American craft beer scene is on fire right now, with great beer coming out of many a state. I recently spent the weekend visiting my US-based sister and The Guest Ale contributor, Suzanna Lee-Kendall to check out some of New York’s famous craft beer venues and beers available on Main Street stores. This video features the wonderful craft ale houses Blind Tiger of Greenwich Village and Midtown’s Pony Bar. We also check out great craft ales from Smuttynose, Six Point and Brooklyn Brewery.

Unfortunately, a lot of footage was wasted due to the noisy and dark of the New York bars. Here are the best bits and don’t forget to check out our American Craft Ales section.

Stateside View: Nosferatu by Great Lakes Brewing

The American brewing scene is in rude health. So The Guest Ale has drafted in an English expat to cast her expert eye on the latest trends. In the fourth of her posts, all the way from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Suzanna Lee-Kendall reviews Nosferatu by Great Lakes Brewing.

Anyone familiar with the 1922 German Expressionist horror film “Nosferatu” will have lost some sleep trying to get the chilling image of the vampire Count shakily emerging from that trap door out of their heads. There is such an intense glare in his eyes coupled with those nasty pointed teeth that is utterly haunting. And so, as Halloween season is in full swing here in the States, imagine my curiosity when I found a seasonal bottled beer named “Nosferatu” at my local beer shop in Pennsylvania…

Well, it’s a hand-crafted stock ale produced by The Great Lakes Brewing Company based in Cleveland, Ohio.  It boasts a 23-year history of striving to produce fine, high-quality, hand-crafted beers using better raw materials such as malts in the European tradition rather than corn and rice.

The name “Nosferatu” was purposely chosen as this is Great Lakes’ seasonal “beer with the bite”. It is an imperial red ale and it pours with a beautiful rusty hue, albeit the head sticks around for a little longer than I would have liked. It has an almost sickly sweet aroma which is notably strong. The first swig is a punch in the mouth of citrusy flavour, which leaves a strong hoppy aftertaste that is not altogether unpleasant.

In fact, the flavour was so interesting and intense I was eager to continue quaffing. The bitterness comes from the

Simcoe hop, a non-traditional bittering hop. The citrus taste comes from the Cascade hop, which imparts a definitive grapefruit flavour to the ale.

At 8% ABV, it’s quite a high-spirited little devil. The brewery suggests it be paired with soft cheeses and I couldn’t agree more. If I’d been back home in Kent, I’d be half way to the nearest Waitrose by now  for a decent sized hunk of French Brie to compliment and offset  the extra “hoppiness” it possesses.

In short, it’s a delightfully wicked little brew, if you allow yourself to be charmed by an ale with a bit of a kick to it. Enjoy!

Stateside View: Samuel Adams’ Bonfire Rauchbier

The American brewing scene is in rude health. So The Guest Ale has drafted in an English expat to cast her expert eye on the latest trends. In the third of her posts, all the way from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Suzanna Lee-Kendall reviews Bonfire Rauchbier by Samuel Adams.

Whilst sitting around a camp fire on a dark forest mountain top in rural Pennsylvania, you could be forgiven for perhaps expecting to be startled by a bear or a coyote,  but not by the beverage you are about to start quaffing. Recently, I was perched on a tree stump around just such a fire when I was first handed a bottle of Samuel Adams Bonfire Rauchbier. It was a dark night so I didn’t bother to consider the label. I swigged it and my first (not completely sober) thought was that the smoke from my campfire had somehow surprisingly penetrated the bottle of beer and changed its flavour. Actually, I wasn’t that far off the mark…

A Rauchbier – “smoked beer” in German – is a beer with a purposely distinctive smoky flavour which is imparted as the malted barley is dried over an open flame. This particular one pours coppery with a tan foamy head that sticks around. It tastes almost exactly how it smells – not dissimilar to smoky bacon crisps. There’s also a hint of maple and a mild layer of sweet toffee.  Not bad at all. The combination is startlingly smooth. No bitter aftertaste to speak of.  Samuel Adams suggests it be paired with any barbecued meats, but I beg to differ. The strong smokiness is best savoured alone, unsabotaged by competing flavours.

Verdict:  It’s Guy Fawkes’ Night in a bottle. And at 5.7% ABV it’s quite the little firework. But it’s  a seasonal offering which will vanish come early November so grab it fast and enjoy it outdoors. It’s a newcomer to the Adams family and I think its arrival deserves more than a mere bonfire celebration. It deserves a brass band and a fly past, it’s that good. Cheers!


About the author

Suzanna Lee-Kendall is a native of Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, and as a result grew up surrounded by hops. She now resides in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Over the coming months she’ll be casting her eye over the vibrant US craft brewing scene.