I confess my first thought on encountering a Dortmunder Export brewed in Cleveland was "why?" It's never been the most inspiring of styles, halfway down from a pale bock but lacking the casual drinkability of helles, and I'm not really surprised it's under threat in its natural habitat. An American brewery knocking one out smacks of little more than a technical exercise, and yet Great Lakes Brewing seem to be on to something with their Dortmunder Gold.
It looks fantastic, for a start: an almost red gold topped by a healthy layer of off-white foam. There's a gentle hint of silage and golden syrup in the aroma which continues on a similar vein when tasted. The hops provide cut grass and beeswax; the malt is wholegrain biscuit and madeira cake with just a little extra warmth from the 5.8% ABV, but the highlight is the texture: full, süffig, filling and satisfying. Beautifully balanced and very moreish.
I expected something a little more brash from Flying Dog's Under Dog "Atlantic Lager". It looks very innocent, dull even: a watery pale yellow. The taste is very strange. It's very akin to an American pale ale, with major sticky toffee and a little bit of a grassy hop tang. A gentle mineral bite leaves it crisp enough to just about pass as a lager if you squint a bit, but I have to wonder what the brewer was aiming for: not quenching enough to be a lawnmower lager, not complex enough to have the beatings of a pale ale in the flavour stakes.
A tendency to colour outside the lines is what has made American craft a major influencer on world microbrewing, but these two present a clear example of how following the instructions can yield better results. Sometimes.
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
1 week ago