22 November 2008

Four from Lakefront Brewery (WI)

To me, Lakefront Brewery is known for two things: for New Grist, their gluten-free beer, and for being arbitrarily sued last year by a guy who was hit on the head by a can of Schlitz. As their beers are newly available to my area -- we seem to be getting a lot from Big 10 country all of a sudden -- I figured I'd try to learn more about them.

I bought their unusual 8-by-1 variety pack from my local retailer. It's a nice package for those who want to try as many beers as possible, although I'd prefer at least two of each. Thankfully, New Grist is not included. Instead, there are a surprising four lagers in the box, perhaps a sign that this Wisconsin brewery embraces it's German roots.

Cherry Lager: This is the seasonal in the pack, and an out of season one at that (my variety pack seems to be from late August). The last fruited lager I had was the crummy Wild Blue. Cherry Lager is much better, although still not great. It pours with a pinkish hue and really nice head. The cherries aren't really prominent, but at least if you didn't know you could guess they were there. There's only a light cherry tartness to it, and some proper fruitiness. The beer finishes dry with rough hops (Mt. Hood, the website says), which maybe clash a bit. Overall, I'd say this is pretty good for a fruit beer in that it doesn't have that no-calorie seltzer flavor that so many others do.

Klisch Pilsner:
Klisch is the family name of the brothers who run the show. Their pilsener is pretty ordinary: straw-colored, light-bodied, fizzy, without much of a hop kick. There's an unfortunate faint sourness to it. In the summer, I might applaud it for being thirst-quenching, but now there isn't much to recommend.

Cattail Ale: I should point out that I don't like the label designs on any of these. Cattail is categorized by Beer Advocate as an English pale mild. I don't know what Ratebeer says; they're down again. The ale is a hazy golden brew, light and fizzy, not too distant from the pilsener. Again, there's a slight sourness. Is this a problem of lack of freshness? There aren't many hops here, nor even much in the way of malt body. Cattail probably works best fresh in the summer as a sessions beer at just over 5%.

Oragnic ESB:
This may be the best of the bunch. It pours more amber has more heft to it than Cattail, with biscuity malts and earthy hops. The website says "cascade hop flavor" but I don't detect that. Also, it really isn't all that bitter, even by English standards. It's a style I like though, and a solid attempt.

Not a blockbuster start for the eight-pack, but the beers are to follow are darker and more to season right now. I enjoyed the ESB the most but would probably order the Cherry Lager if I had a choice, if only that it's just about the only one of its kind out there.

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