Thursday, July 19, 2012

Great Lakes The Wright Pils

You may have noticed that blog updates here at WFB have been kind of infrequent in recent months. There are probably a number of reasons for this, but a big point is that I don't really have that many beers to write about at the moment. Most of the beers I'm enjoying these days are ones I've already reviewed. And although I've tried quite a few new beers this summer, a lot of them have been really average. But I can always count on Great Lakes. This summer they introduced a new seasonal, The Wright Pils. And, boy, is it ever good! It's precisely what I hoped it would be: a slightly Americanized version of a classic Czech syle pilsner. It's clean and crisp-tasting with a nice dry finish. The flavor is floral hoppy with some spicy bite, balanced by sweet, grainy malts. Hallertau hops replicate the character of German noble hops, while Czech Saaz hops bring an earthy quality to this drinkable but full-flavored lager. For this kind of beer, I usually favor an American craft version over an "authentic" import due to issues of freshness. With a Great Lakes beer, you know it's fresh because they've got the date right there on the bottle. If my gold standard for an American pils is the Victory Prima Pils or the Stoudt's Pils, this one is every bit in the same league. I don't think I've ever had a Great Lakes beer that I didn't think was absolutely great. And The Wright Pils is no different. It's thirst-quenching and delicious at the same time. You can knock one back on a hot day, but you can just as easily enjoy it with a fine meal. It's just a freaking fantastic beer. Get some before it's gone - we've still got half a summer to get through!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Uinta Skipping Stone Summer Lager

So you always hear how American lager beers aren’t what they used to be ever since all the big corporate breweries conspired to water down their product sometime in the 1970s. I don’t know if this is true or just an urban legend. I wasn’t even born until the ‘70s. I don’t know what a Bud or a Coors tasted like in 1968. But you hear stories about how they were actually good beers back then. Well, I’m going to venture a guess that if American pale lagers really were better back in the day, they may have tasted something like a Uinta Skipping Stone. Although technically a summer beer, this is a lager that most people would drink year-round. It’s an everyman beer - clean and thirst-quenching and completely without pretension. But compared to corporate suds, it’s just better-tasting. It’s actually got flavor! You know how Schlitz advertises a “kiss of the hops”? This stuff has actually got it. At only 22 IBUs, you might expect piss water. But there’s a nice grassy hop bite that does not go unnoticed, along with a little malt sweetness and a crisp lemony finish. And I dig the foamy head! How do I explain it? It’s like your typical beer, except it tastes more, uh, “beery”. All in all, this is top-notch swill. This is up there with Victory Throwback when it comes to micro-brew versions of macro lagers. Yeah, I know you can almost buy a case of Miller High Life for what you would pay for a six-pack of this stuff. Fair enough. But at the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mt. Carmel Brewing Company Summer Wheat Ale

Holy hops, Batman! A wheat beer with some bite to it! Who knew? Wheat ales are always good summer beers, but rarely are they anything to write home about. If I were for some reason in holed up in Cincinnati, I would most definitely write home about Mt. Carmel's Summer Wheat Ale. This is without doubt one of the finest wheat ales out there. At a modest 34 IBUs, you would not expect much in the way of hops. But surprisingly, the flavor is hoppy in an American pale ale sort of way. I taste a good bit of citrus, and the main fruit notes are lemony. The lemon cuts the wheat but doesn't wipe it out completely. I mean, why drink a wheat beer if the wheat's going to be completely downplayed? Mt. Carmel has done a great job of doing what all craft brewers try to do at this time of the year - create a lighter "thirst quencher" beer with a genuinely fuller flavor. This is a really nice beer, made with quality ingredients and very fresh-tasting. Maybe you think of this as a wheat beer, or maybe you think of it as a wheat beer/pale ale hybrid. Either way, I've found a mainstay of my summer drinking lineup for years to come!