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Monday, May 13, 2013

Great Lakes Brewing's Dortmunder Gold Golden Lager

  • Style:  Dortmunder Export/Lager
  • ABV: 5.8%
  • Season: Year Round
  • Ease to locate: Widely available in the Midwest, NY, NJ, VA, WV, KY,  & Washington DC.  So no excuses unless you live west of the Mississippi.  
  • Color: Deeply golden with no haziness
  • Head: 2 & 1/2 fingers with wonderful retention and good lacing
  • Aroma: light notes of biscuit, toast and a bit of floral
  • Mouthfeel: Medium
  • Finish: Medium with bit of floral hops on the tail
  • Food Friendly: Is it edible?  Then yes, this beer will pair with it.  Seriously, try it with everything from poultry to beef to shellfish.  Buttery cheese, such as Havarti or Swiss would be wonderful with this beer.  As would a rich goat milk cheese like a Chevre.       

The Bavarian Purity law of 1516 states that beer must be brewed with only the natural ingredients of barley, hops, yeast and water.  As far as laws made over five hundred years ago go, this one doesn't seem all that bad (especially when you take into consideration that the United States only began to ban transfat from our foods in 2006.  Any one else remember margarine?  Margarine?  Parkay?)  When Great Lake Brewing began to produce their signature lager, Dortmunder in 1988, craft beer was just in it's teething stage (I remember when my nephew went through this period.  Everything would go in his mouth, regardless of taste.)  What's remarkable is that this lager has, by all accounts, retained it's award winning style for almost thirty years.  I can't think of many people who could claim this (although I suppose that a simple weekend stroll through certain big box stores would demonstrate that some people are still stylistically stuck in the 80's.)

                                   Here's a good guidepost for life.  If your butter-like product begins to correct your syntax, it might be time to switch to a lower ABV for the night

Dortmunder style is named after the German city of Dortmunder (those crazy Germans.)  Dortmunder was a mid-sized industral town (also a huge brewing town that would export it's brew to neighboring cities) with a bunch of thirsty factory workers.  Remember. water was not really a health drink back then, unless you enjoyed a side order of cholera with your glass.  Seven breweries in the city formed a union, named the Dortmunder Union (again, crazy, wacky Germans!) and began to brew a soft pale lager for the workers to imbibe in during the work day.   The style, known as Dortmunder Export, emerged as  soft pale lager with a higher than average amount (for a lager anyway) of carbonation and a well balanced malt character.  Dortmunder Export was one of the most popular styles of beers to be sold outside and in Germany until the 1970's when it was supplanted by Plisners.  Apparently it's slowly starting to gain an audience, thanks in no small amount to Great Lakes Brewing's efforts.

Das ist schones bier
My Dortmunder Gold golden lager poured a pure, deeply golden color with hints of amber and light brown.   It was clear without a trace of haziness.  Billowy clouds of foam raised quickly, forming an off white two and a half finger head. The retention on this head was amazing.  Large mesas of foam crested in the glass for a good portion of the drink.  Summer cloud-like sticky clumps of lacing decorated up and down the sides of the glass.  It was a pretty pint.  For all the prettiness of the brew, I found that the nose was rather light.    I could easily detect the expected grainy note, with a bit of yeasty bread under it.  A soft malt character slightly emerged as it warmed a slightly.  The end of the aroma had a floral quality, but that was as close to a hop scent that I could find.     The taste made up for the light nose.  The flavor was sweet from the grains and caramel malts, but nicely balanced by the floral hop character.  I found a hint of earthiness lurking under everything as well.    There's a sunshine brightness from citrus there as well.  A good amount of carbonation assisted in slightly drying out the malty backbone and keeping the sweetness in check.  The mouthfeel was just as expected for this sort of lager, moderate and not too dry.  A medium length finish with just a touch of hops on the end made for one satisfying beer.

Deutsch schngrend angenehm

Schugenfrued.  Fruhstuck inbegriffen.  Appetitlich.  Yeah.  I'm just throwing German words out there now.  I took Spanish in high school.  
As I've said before, I'm not much of a lager person.  But at certain point in my craft beer life, I could also say that I wasn't much of an IPA or a fruit beer sort of person either.  Like everything in life, I believe that you need to give most things a chance before you decide if it belongs in your bag of tricks or not.  And I'm more than happy to allow Great Lake's Dormunder Gold space in my mid-range, all leather, cross body bag.  Like many lagers, it's a great food beer (one of many reasons to include craft lagers into your repertoire.  For all you guys out there who may not have a mid-range, all leather cross body bag of tricks, I'm pretty sure that you at least have a repertoire.  And if you should happen to have the bag and a repertoire, this is a judge-free zone here.  Enjoy life.)  I would serve this lager with  cajun crab cakes confident with the knowledge that the sweetness of the malts would balance out any heat from the spices.  I also think that  shrimp summer rolls with Asian peanut sauce would be delicious with this brew.  But don't save it for just the main meal.  Try it with appetizers such as this strawberry goat cheese bruschetta or any other sweet/savory app that would compliment this sweet/savory lager.  And remember to raise you glass in thanks to those crazy, wacky, midday drinking Germans.