Great Lakes Brewing Co., Part 2

Max and I were grouchy on Monday.  For those of you who know us, this doesn’t sound important, because we’re usually grouchy.  But we both just had God awful days, and were therefore far more abrasive than usual.  So it was a good night for good beer.

We finished off the six pack Max’s delightful cousin had sent out from Ohio, and I, for one, would really appreciate it if he would send more (directly to me, please).  We were slightly more impressed with Part 1, but we wanted to give you a complete look at the Great Lakes Brewing Company, for any of you who were thinking you’d fly to the Midwest for your next night out.  So here you go!

Their IPA, Commodore Perry (different Commodore Perry) was decent.  Max is more of an IPA fan than myself, but we both agreed that this bottle was a bit unusual.  For one thing, it was orange, and more frothy like champagne than foamy like a beer should be.  However, it was also slightly less intense than your standard IPA, and less bitter.  So for those who want a decent intro IPA, this may be a good start (with a healthy 7.5% ABV).  I said it would be good with tacos.  Max said it would be good with another beer (again, he was REALLY grouchy).

Conway’s Irish Ale (whoever Conway was) got our lowest recommendation.  Didn’t taste like much, though I suppose if you favor alcohol content over taste, this might be OK (admittedly at 6.5% ABV, it isn’t the best choice).  It almost tasted like milk, with a little maple syrup in it.  I suggested it had an aftertaste of tangelos, but the grouchy one glared at me for that.  He also informed me that this bottle would go well with a better beer…so we went on to the one we had truly been looking forward to.

Both being big porter fans, we were most excited for the Edmund Fitzgerald (not a clue, so don’t ask).  It smelled divine…a lot like when your dad used to soak mesquite chips in the backyard.  However, when we sipped, we found it tasted like a flat Coca-Cola.  This actually wasn’t awful.  The beer was pretty good!  But the flavor notes in the background were very similar to what Coke would taste like if you took out all the sugar and most of the carbonation.  Maybe with a little oatmeal flavor towards the middle (I began suggesting other grains, but Max glared at me, so I stopped).  We decided it would go really well with brownies…that may have been because we were eating brownies.

Thus satiated, we both were able to depart in a better mood.  We were pretty fair in our ratings despite our case of the Mondays.

Commodore Perry:  6.5
Conway’s Irish Ale:  4.5
Edmund Fitzgerald: 7.8

A little bit of everything.  🙂

And we promise to be friendlier next time…right, Max?


Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA

It’s not often that I’m blown away by something rather predictable. An exception to this rule is the Hop Henge Experimental IPA from Deschutes. I’ve had a few experiences with the Portland, Oregon brewery in the past, and I have yet to be disappointed by anything with their name on it. Aside from it being out of the Deschutes brewery, I was sold on the label – a recreation of Stonehenge out of, you guessed it, hop bales. After reading the label, I’m still unclear as to what makes Hop Henge “experimental”.

Moving on to the more important part of the beer, the cap-topped IPA comes in at a robust 9% ABV. Hop Henge has a pleasant, but predictable, hoppy aroma of what you would expect from an IPA which surprised me little. I do admire it for its color, though. It pours smoothly into a natural amber color, leaving a thin head that recedes quickly.

This IPA goes through a bit of a transformation between when it crosses your lips to when it moves down your throat. It has an expected strong, hoppy kick on the tip of your tongue, morphs into a smooth, sweet middle, and finishes with a bit of crispy burnt toast. Hop Henge, like most IPAs, has a very strong presence, and would be paired well with a more mild-flavored meal. Emily suggested that it would go well with a variety of comfort foods, including, but not limited to, macaroni & cheese or chicken & dumplings.

Maybe it’s my predisposition to loving Deschutes, or maybe it’s the dependable nature of a good IPA, but I couldn’t get enough of Hop Henge. I would have gladly had several more glasses of it, had we not had other brews to sample.

I give Hop Henge a well-above-average 8.2

More to come in the next few days. Cheers!


ps- in other news, eventually we’ll get some better beer glasses. These will have to do for now. Sorry.