Beer #1 – Brooklyn Lager
A bunch of disclaimers to set the stage. This isn’t the first beer I’ve ever tried. Although, if Brooklyn Lager was your first beer, that’d be pretty cool. I think the first beer I ever tasted was Coors Light in my friend’s basement. It was a little warm and even more disgusting than it is when it’s “as cold as the Rockies”, whatever that means. Anyway, I used to keep track of all the beers I had ever tasted in an Excel spreadsheet. Then, a few years ago an app appeared on Facebook as part of LivingSocial, which allowed you to rate and keep track of beers. I was super excited. I was up around 240 beers when the FUCKING APP DISAPPEARED about a year ago. Being the idiot that I am, I had gotten rid of the Excel sheet because I figured why use boring old Excel, when you have a sweet app on Facebook with pictures and stars and searchability? Because the app is going to go away. That’s why.
So one of the reasons I started this blog was to help myself keep track of beers again. There is a new app out called Untappd that allows you to “check-in” when you have a beer, but it lacks the ability to really rate the experience. I started using it but I will still keep this blog going as a record of tasting notes. I will be reviewing new beers and also posting about beers I’ve tried before because my memory isn’t that great and I’d like to have a record of EVERYTHING I’ve tried, if possible. The beer I’m starting with is an oldie, but goodie, meaning, I’ve had it tons of times but it seems fitting to have it be #1.
I’m choosing Brooklyn Lager to be the first beer to grace my blog (not that Garrett Oliver would really care) for a few reasons. First, it’s brewed in NYC. I try to drink local and luckily the state of NY in general is making a claim as a really fine location for craft breweries, as you can see here. Second, I had an epiphany the other day about Brooklyn Lager. It’s my desert island beer. I would drink this beer everyday and if I had to choose one beer for the rest of my life, this would be it. Why? It’s the most drinkable beer I’ve ever had. While some beers are really made for cold (Smoke Beers, Stouts, those commercials you see where people drink Corona while sitting out in the snow are bullshit) or warm (Hefeweizens) temperatures, Brooklyn Lager is light enough not be too heavy in the mouth during the summer, fits perfectly with spring and fall, and has enough malt richness to suit the needs of winter drinking. It’s like a chameleon; it will fit whatever you want it to be and it’s always good. Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn’s brewmaster, is one of the most respected craft brewers out there and his knowledge of food and beer pairings is probably unmatched. I have no problem standing behind this beer and lagers aren’t even my favorite style of beer. Lagers are brewed at colder temperatures with bottom fermenting yeast, so they didn’t exist until cold storage of beer was invented. The term “lager” comes from the German for “storage” and therefore you need cold to let the beer develop, whereas ales can ferment at room temperatures.
So there’s the short version. Here’s the beer snob version. Quick note, when you are sampling a beer, smell it as soon as you pour it into the glass, THEN look at it, otherwise you lose a lot of the aromatics that burst forth when you pour. These notes are at least 50% of the beer. You don’t have to be able to describe them perfectly, but you know when it smells malty, or hoppy, or floral.
Aroma: There’s a trace of hops, but what you really get is a really nice malt sweetness. Not overpowering, but balanced and fresh.
Appearance: Amber/brown in color, light enough to see through. A small head of foam when poured into a glass with small lacing that started right away. There was some nice lacing as I drank it, but nothing on par with hoppier beers (like 2x IPAs.)
Flavor: It starts with sweetness from the malts, with some hints of spice (I sense cinnamon), nothing overpowering, but makes you want another sip. Good balance, as the hops appear faintly on the back end, balance the malts and then linger for a little while after swallowing.
Mouthfeel: Good carbonation, light body and smooth in the mouth.
Overall: A number grading system would be arbitrary as beers are better rated on the impressions that come to mind. It’s a perfect example of what an American craft lager should be. An ideal session beer and relatively cheap at most bars that have it on tap. It’s a great beer for people to drink who don’t know if they like beer and a better beer for people who want a great beer they can drink all night long. It’s not the “best” beer I’ve ever had in terms of my personal preferences, but it’s the beer I’d take on a desert island, or anywhere really, and that says a lot.