Lagunitas Censored Rich Copper Ale: Solid but unspectacular
Censored. I thought that name was a clever marketing ploy. Tell people they aren't to know what something is, and a certain segment of the population, a segment that includes me it appears, will have to find out what the mystery is about. The great secret word that was censored out on this beer is…Kronik. The drug connotations that this name implies were apparently too risky for the suits that look into such things. Not that this amber ale is going to confuse drinkers into thinking they've scored some killer liquid weed. Censored is just a pretty solid, but leaning towards ordinary, American strong ale.
And, it's not even all that strong; 6.75% alcohol puts it slightly out of the sessionable zone, but it's hardly a blockbuster. It certainly looks ordinary. Or, to put it another way, exactly the way you'd expect an amber ale to look. The beer pours light copper with a small, quickly fading head. The aroma is on the faint side, and is mainly composed of the sweet malt this beer is dominated by. I was looking for something to wean me off the big, heavy, malty beers of winter and push me towards spring, but I'm not ready for the light wheats just yet. This is a good transition beer for that time of the year, but is perfectly good any time if you happen to prefer the style.
It's rare to find a California brewed beer that isn't hop-strong and bitter, but Censored is one of those exceptions. There is only a brief nip from the hops which manages to crisp up the bite at the very finish. The rest of the beer is all malt. Not crazily complex, just the usual sweet caramel, and a tinge of smokiness. Maybe that smoke is what inspired the original name. It is the main thing that sets this ale apart from the other ambers that are out there.
Most amber ales pair up well with just about any food, and Lagunitas' version is true to form. Very versatile, it'll be suitable with just about anything. Meat and fish of all variety and preparations, stews, cheese will all go well with this beer. As usual, anything that will pair with so many different things, doesn't really pair perfectly with any of it, though. If you're looking for a decent beer to get through dinner, fine. If you need the ideal accompaniment, maybe not. It is a good drinking beer, though, if slightly, and quietly, potent. I realize it's not technically Irish, but it would taste pretty good at a cool weather parade, say in about March.
After recently brewing a batch of my own amber ale, I wanted a quick sample of a standard version to see how I rated. Lagunitas Censored is just that. It's a good, solid and well-made amber ale, but nothing surprising or out of the ordinary. If you like the style, it's good enough to be an everyday choice, especially if you like a wisp of smoke in your beer. Don't expect it to remind you of any kronik, though, nor reproduce any of the effects thereof. It's just your standard amber ale -- maybe a notch better than my own, and few others out there, but nothing to get excited about.