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Good Harbor Golden

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Leelanau Brewing Company
Lake Leelanau, MI
USA
http://www.leelanaubeer.com/

Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 7.5%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Drinkable, but flawed)


Comments:
Toilet paper.

That’s right. Toilet paper. That is my answer to anyone who pines for the “good old days” of centuries gone by, whether you’re an aspiring Amish (any of our readers out there Amish?), that nutty from Into The Wild, or a brewer bent on strictly “traditional” brewing methods.

(If you were a brewer who was REALLY serious about traditional brewing methods, you’d be making stone beer. But this is getting back to my TP argument, so let’s keep going with that.)

Why toilet paper? Because good old TP is barely more than 100 years old. Before that, folks were using pages from the Sears catalog (remember catalogs?), and before that, corn cobs. Whooee, you could get some good traction with that! History is damn filthy, man.

I’m bringing up this nasty little tidbit after reading the promo copy on the side of my bottle of Leelanau Good Harbor Golden (contract brewed by our friends up in Dexter, Michigan at Jolly Pumpkin), where it proclaims, “Behold a culmination of old world brewing methods and all natural ingredients given life and vitality through an intimate relationship with the natural process of fermentation and time spent in oak vats.”

Ah, the good old world, the time of scurvy, no toilet paper, and barrel-aged beer. Although I'll give the first two aspects of times gone by a pass, I’ll see what the beer tastes like.

Even after an angry pour into a tulip-shaped Tripel Karmaliet glass I get a thin head over top a bright straw-colored, slightly cloudy brew. The nose is bright, spicy hops and dry grassy notes underneath tart fruit overtones. Upon sipping, sharp, acidic sourness rushes out in front, then fades into …nothing. The middle and finish, at the outset, at least, are virtually devoid of any kind of flavor. Not even any of the 7.5 percent ABV can be detected. This changes, though, after the beer’s been sitting out a while (and it will be, too, if you decided to drink this 750 ml bottle alone). As it creeps toward room temperature, the beer’s finish takes on some sweetness, with a rush of lemony fruitiness zipping up the the tongue. Some hops even come out to play, albeit at the extreme far ends of the sip, adding an earthy epilogue to the affair.

This one’s close. But ultimately I can’t recommend it. There’s just too much overpowering sourness at the front of the beer. Simply throttle down that sourness a bit at the outset and this would have been a solid three-mugger. Open up some of that sweet fruitiness, and it couldn’ve been something more. But as I’ve said before, barrel aging isn’t for every beer, and pulling it off with a light style like a golden ale is a pretty tall order. They came close here. Damn close. The copy on the bottle claims it can be cellared for up to 10(!) years, and maybe some aging would do this entry some favors. If you like your beers sour and on the lighter side, by all means grab a bottle or three. But if you’re a beer dork after my tastes, I’d baaarely give it a pass.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on June 25, 2008.
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