Monday, December 15, 2008

Lakefront Bridge Burner Special Reserve Ale

Last week we had the Lakefront Fuel Café coffee stout, this week, we stay in Milwaukee at Lakefront but move to a strong ale instead of the stout. What is a "strong ale" well, it's sort of like a barley wine, but less wine-y; full-bodied and generally moderate to high alcohol. The strong ale is a bit of a catch-all style that covers any ale that is … well … strong, but doesn't really fit into other styles. While today we may append "imperial" to any number of styles, the strong ale is generous in the malt bill without, typically, the concomitant generosity in the hop bill that we typically think of when we attach the "imperial" prefix.

Lakefront Bridge Burner Special Reserve Ale

Appearance: A huge beige dense, foamy head on top of a gorgeous, deep amber body; poured into a tulip glass, it rivals Lake Louie's Louie's Reserve and Augustiner's Maximator Doppelbock as one of the prettiest beers I've laid my eyes on (you can tell I have a thing for redheads). The foam pockmarks deeply and falls away slowly, leaving some amazing lacing on the sides
Aroma: huge caramel and biscuit malt aroma with a strong piney, earthy, grassy hop aroma to round it out – smells as intriguing as it looks
Flavor: complex malts of biscuit and bread and caramel and alcohol, with a strong hop flavor that exactly mimics its aromas; the flavors are not muddied, but layered nicely
Body: a hop bitterness and finish cleans this beer nicely, but not before the complex malts fight it out for prominence;
Drinkability: obscenely drinkable and extraordinarily versatile, it is great on it own, but would compliment virtually any winter meal very well.
Summary: It's great to see Lakefront break out a bit and make something a bit more sophisticated. Their reputation is definitely as a "workday" beer; a focus on highly drinkable, high quality, sessionable beers. One of the few Wisconsin brews sold in a 22, its moderate price (I think I paid $4.99 at Barriques?) and extraordinary drinkability, make it worth picking up a quite a few bottles, storing some of them and drinking others when the mood strikes. For a sophisticated beer it definitely carries through on Lakefront's drinkability mantra

BA (B+).RB (90).

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