Do you believe in monsters? I remember traveling to the Loch Ness with my father when I was about 13 years old. We were traveling through the UK on one of his business trips, the trips that he would bring me along on, to expose me to the world. At that age, I was of course convinced that the Loch Ness Monster was real. So we made a stop at the Loch Ness and stood beside it for an hour or so with cameras. Well, much to my boyish disappointment, we saw nothing. Little did I realize then, but the memory of that trip with my father would far outweigh any monster sighting. But I digress. You see, Lake Erie in the United States, also has an alleged lake monster named Bessie. Is she real? No one knows, but if you drink several rounds of Great Lakes craft beer with your friends, she is bound to come up in conversation!
Great Lakes Brewing was founded in 1988 as a microbrewery and brewpub. It was, in fact, the first microbrewery in Ohio. This makes it important to the state and to the city of Cleveland. It was founded by Patrick and Daniel Conway, and believes in environmental sustainability. One example is that the company recycles some of their promotional materials to produce fuel for some of their equipment. I like most of the beers that this company produces, so it was not hard to convince me to review this one!
Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster (9.1% ABV) is a high-alcohol, Imperial India Pale Ale. This means that it is, at it base, a top-ferments, warm-fermented ale with a large amount of hops. According to the company, the ale contains Simcoe and Willamette hops, and is brewed on Harrington 2-Row Base Malt, and includes Caramel 30, a food coloring. I am wary of beers that contain coloring, but I am willing to give this one a chance, based on my experience with this great company. The Imperial part of the name implies heavily-roasted malts, but that is not the case in the tasting, and since the company gives no information as to how this ale is Imperial, I will leave it as a mystery.
Everything On Tap Review: Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster IPA Review:
Bottle: The bottle is of light-brown glass with a traditional rectangular label. The label’s background is black, with the image of Bessie rising from the Lake Erie waters and white lettering on top.
Pour: The color is orange and golden-straw, with a one-finger white head that is foamy but creamy as well. It dissipates slowly, leaving medium lacing.
Aroma: The aroma is its own contradiction. I detect grassy, roasted leaves and malted grains, and a light, floral, hoppy bitterness. This bouquet is unusual, but nice.
Flavor: Again, as its own contradiction, the flavor begins with tropical fruit and lightly-roasted, malted grains. This is followed by a lovely waft of grassy, floral, citrus hops. This is a most unusual ale. The aromatic and flavor combinations are very unusual, but also very nice. I would definitely not classify this as an IPA, or an Imperial Ale, by any means. It is as if it forms a new category of beer that I have never experienced before. It is excellent, but enigmatic.
Mouthfeel: The body is thin, but the carbonation is medium-plus, making a nice combination. With other ales, I would find this mouthfeel odd and displeasing, but somehow, as if by black magic, it seems to work well with this ale.
Structure: The structure is acceptably balanced and stable, but only acceptably so: it is not overly-noteworthy.
Food Pairing: Such n unusual ale deserves an unusual food pairing. And I can think of no more unusual food that breaks the mold of traditionalism, than Indian food. Pair this ale with varied Indian cuisine from varied provinces.
Overall Rating Out Of 5 Possible Beer Mugs: