Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Great Lakes Nosferatu: A Red Conundrum
But something's rotten in Cleveland. A problem I've run into with Nosferatu in the last year is its great inconsistency. Some kegs/bottles of it are brutally hoppy as if they somehow brewed it without any malts. Other times it has that caramel maltiness that aptly tames the hop assault and is the reason I became a fan of this in the first place. To my surprise, they tapped this at the Hideout Block Party last weekend and it was like drinking pine bark. The hops were overwhelming. Later, I tried one from the tap at Northdown Cafe, and all flavors blended harmoniously. These kinds of variances have happened a lot with this beer for a couple of years.
My impression is that Great Lakes has major consistency issues with the mix for this particular beer. Sure, most craft brews are subject to minor fluctuations in taste, and external factors such as the cleanliness of tap lines play a role, but Nosferatu is the poster child for wide variance in flavor. Some pours dramatically favor the hops to the point that it's as harsh as a red rye ale, such as Bear Republic's Red Rocket Ale. Other times the gorgeous malty hint of creaminess is present and it recalls Lagunitas' discontinued Red Ale.
My advice with Nosferatu is to seek it out because it's a great beer, but get a decent sample of it before grabbing a full glass. Otherwise, you may doom yourself to spending 30 minutes tasting tree bark.