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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lake Effect Brewing's Super Bier

  • Style: Kolsch
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • Ease to locate: New shipment landed bottles in and around Chicago area craft stores.  It is NOT being sold at Superdawg.  But what you do in the privacy of your own vehicle is your (and whatever cop is catching lunch next to you) business. Here's a link to their Beer Menu page
  • Color: Deep golden yellow with a light amber tone.  A bit hazy, but visible carbonation
  • Head: 2 finger just off white head which falls to foamy surface.  Spotty lacing
  • Aroma: Light nose.  Cereal, apricot, a hint of smoke.  A slight bitterness, but difficult to categorize. 
  • Mouthfeel: Light bodied and very dry. Great effervescence.
  • Finish: Surprisingly long.   Ends with a bit of smoky bitterness. 
  • Food friendly?: Um... duh?  This was brewed with the intention of pairing with food, hot dogs specifically.  I'd also serve it with easy going meals such as wood fired crusty pizza.  You could also try it anything from firm white fish or spicy jerk chicken.  Honestly, the pairing are sort of wide open here.
Apple user's link: This is what makes a hot dog a Superdawg
                                        There are many ways to tell if a person is truly from Chicago.  The easiest by far is to ask if they would ever put ketchup on their hot dog. There is only one correct answer.
Do you know how easy it is to take something for granted that you see day in and day out?  Big things, like the support of your family & friends even after you've screwed up royally.  Again.  And little things, like a kind Mariano's employee who makes you a Cuban Sandwich even though it isn't on the menu just because you look like you've had a tough day.  Five days a week (six during the busy season) I pass by a Northwest side landmark on the way to work.  Supedawg is not a kitschy throw back to the Happy Days era of drive ins & car hops.  It's the real deal.  It started as a small hot dog stand in 1948 and blossomed into a Chicago icon.  Even when I was a kid riding in the back seat of our family station wagon, I would crane my neck to catch a glimpse of the familiar pair of  red eye winking hot dogs perched on the roof of the drive in.  There aren't many things that scream Far Northwest Side of Chicago, but that cocky strong man and his admiring gal pal certainly fit the bill.  The fact that Lake Effect Brewing chose to brew a beer fit to drink with the beloved Superdawg says a lot about Lake Effect as a brewery. They get that Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, each unique with memories and icons.  They get that being from Chicago is more than just telling people what area of the country you were born in.  They get Chicago.  Period.

My Lake Effect Super Bier poured a darkly golden yellow color, a bit deeper in hue than your traditional straw tone for a Kolsch.  I'm not complaining though.  It was a lovely looking beer, with just a hint of amber running through the golden liquid and a slight haziness to give a depth of tone.  A two finger just off white head quickly rose to the top of the beer.  The head took it's time in settling, eventually forming a soft foamy surface covering which lasted a good majority of the drink.  Spotty, creeping lacing clung to the sides of the glass.  The nose was slight, but this has been my (admittedly limited) experience with the Kolsch style.  Light noses and balanced taste.  I could detect the aroma of grainy cereal, a bit of apricot and a hint of smoke.  I had to work hard to find any sort of bitterness on the nose and what I did find was difficult to categorize as citrus, pine or earthy.  The taste was richer in flavor, however.  Notes of cereal, apricot and  lemon mingled with a hint of smoke.  A bit of resin arrived on the tail.  My first thought when sipping this beer was "Yep, this was definately intended to be drunk with a hot dog."  OK, the thought wasn't exactly earth shattering in nature, but it's always a good thing when the brewer's intention broadcasts loud and clear on the beer's first mouthful.  A light and dry body made the drink easy to down and the effervescence of the carbonation confirmed it's food friendly nature.  A surprising long finish ended with a smoky bitterness that contributed to the desire for mustard covered encased meats.

The glass in my photos was the tallest, thinnest piece of drinkware that I could find in my collection.  Traditional Kolsch ales are served in long, thin, test tube like glassware.  Think a pilsner glass only less flute-ish.  Unlike their  German style cousins (Altbiers and Helles) Kolsches are lagered which helps them to retain their delicate and subtle nature.  They're perfect summer beers and a style that seems to be coming back into fashion.  I can't recall one locally brewed Kolsch in 2013 other than Metropolitan's Krankshaft Kolsch .   I have personally tried at least three locally brewed ones this summer alone.  It's a wonderful warm weather beer and a perfect choice to pair with a variety of food.  Yes, of course you could and should (at least once) drink Super Bier with a Superdawg that has been run through the garden.  Actually you can put anything you want on your hot dog.  I prefer a smear of grainy mustard & grilled onions personally.  Just, for the love of all that is good and holy, do not taint your pup with the blood of tomatoes.   Garlic Rubbed Lemon Trout Fillets  and a side salad of greens would be a simple and kind of elegant pairing with this Kolsch.  I could also see this beer's subtlety calming the fiery heat of a Jamacian Jerk Chicken.  I wouldn't make my jerk chicken too powerful, however, remember that you want to compliment and not completely overwhelm what's in your glass.  Just be sure to enjoy it while the weather is still warm and the days are still sunny.  Fall with be here soon enough.