Beer number 96 off my epic list see’s me continue my tour of the US with Brooklyn Lager, brewed by the Brooklyn Brewing Company in – that’s right – Brooklyn, NY! all I know about Brooklyn is that Jay-Z was born there, and he’s awesome…so I have high hopes for the beer too.
The bottle says:
You know how I love labels gilded in gold (see Gouden Carolus and Old Rasputin). This one adds a touch of class to a black and green background, featuring the Brooklyn Brewery ‘B’ logo in the middle. I think it’s very cool and has a real ‘team’ feel to it (if I didn’t know any better I’d swear that this beer had been marketed by a baseball team), which feels appropriate since it’s the brewery’s first beer and best selling product today (GO TEAM!!)
This beer is also labelled as “The pre-prohibition beer”, which sparked my curiosity enough to do some research. Turns out that Brooklyn Lager is brewed in the same style that was popular in the area around the late 1800’s; an amber lager based those found in Vienna, Germany. Then prohibition came, and the punters palates became accustomed to sweeter soda drinks rather than big malty beers. When prohibition was lifted these same punters turned their backs on the darker lagers in favour of lighter ‘Pilsener’ styles. Beer makes history fun!
My first impression is how the beer looks much more like an ale than a lager, with a darker amber body and a tight off white head. The first aromas are very sweet, like fruit buns with sultana and apricot in them. It smells English, not like a “typical” lager. The label suggests a floral hop character but it’s hard to detect at this early stage. The body is quite fizzy and this seems to wash the initial flavours away, leaving an aftertaste of dry bitterness and savoury malt with just a hint of sweetness. The suggested serving temp of this beer is 8-9C, so I’m very interested to see what the second half has to offer.
Yep, this beer opens up a lot as it warms. The hops are playing more of a role, turning everything a bit more German than English…but I’ve also got the feeling they’ve been present the whole time and I was just missing them. They’re spicy at the start and florally at the end, which combines with the malt flavours nicely to bring everything into balance. The carbonation has also softened just a bit; now it feels pretty spot on. There’s more bitterness in the aftertaste also, which finishes things off perfectly.
I wish I’d drunk the whole beer at the correct serving temperature. When I first started to drink it, I just didn’t get it; it was a lager that looked like an ale, it had little too much carbonation…it left me wanting a little more. Then it hit a magical moment where everything clicked, creating a balance of flavours that I’ve not experienced before. Now it makes perfects sense…more lagers should aim for a darker amber experience.