The Great Lakes stand-by
When I started writing about beer, I thought it’d be a great excuse to get out and try some different ones. Different styles. Different countries. Micros I had ignored. More often than not, they ended up being okay, but not as good as (fill in the blank). It was time to get back to a couple I think are as good as any I’ve had. Perfect examples of their style. That’s Dortmunder Gold from Great Lakes Brewery.
Being from Cleveland, I’m a bit spoiled. It’s a beer drinking town, and it happens to be home to arguably the best microbrewery in the country. The only bad thing I really have to say about Dortmunder Gold, is really a good thing. It’s everywhere around here. Almost every bar, restaurant, shop, arena and gas station has it. At many bars it’s the choice if you want anything a bit more special than the usual domestic swill. I’ve had gallons of it. Always liked it. Never thought much about it. For me, it became the fallback beer. If they didn’t have anything else interesting, I’d go with the Dortmunder. I became so used to greatness, I took it for granted. I’m sure the poor fools married to supermodels can relate.
Dortmunder is not a pilsner style lager. It has more body and taste. More alcohol -- about 5.8 percent. It isn’t really the lager for a sweltering day in the sun. It’ll work then, but it’s not that thirst quenching, ice-cold, crisp, light beer that always goes down as a treat when the sweat drips. But, this versatile beer will work well in just about any other situation. A good everyday beer if you don’t mind spending a bit for quality.
It looks exactly like a beer ought to look. A deep gold, with a creamy head that fades sooner rather than later. Only a slight aroma that’s not worth hunting for anyway. The first thought that springs to mind after tasting is balance. Not the drinker’s (that comes after a few more) but the beer’s. It’s nearly a dead heat between the sweet malt and the dry hops. It’s complex enough, considering it’s a lager. There are hints of corn, grain, bread, maybe some honey. It has plenty of alcohol, and it’s noticeable, but not overpowering.
This beer will complement anything meaty or cheesy. I love it with food. It’s fine for a few at the bar, but if I’m having several, I could do without the sweetness. Just my personal preference. I know many people who apparently don’t mind that aspect at all, and will knock these back all night.Dortmunder Gold is Great Lakes’ flagship beer. It’s won all sorts of awards, and they are justifiably proud of this lager. It is very good. It just doesn’t happen to be my favorite. It’s not even my favorite Great Lakes’ beer. The style itself is probably the problem. It’s a bit like an ale, but not enough. A bit like a lager, but a step beyond what you usually look for in one. Call it an ale drinker’s lager. For some, that would make it perfect, I’m sure. To me, it’s a very good beer. Among the best lagers I’ve ever had. I’m always happy to have it. This is the beer the American masses should be guzzling instead of the watered-down marketing experiments. Unfortunately, they won’t. There’s too much flavor. It’s too thick for them. They’ll prefer to stick to the pretend beers. This is for those of us who like the real ones. No chemicals, no preservatives and it tastes like a beer.