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Beer Reviews

Imperial Dortmunder

Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Cleveland, OH

Style: Dortmunder
ABV: 7.5%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Pair With:
So I decided to visit my friends from Great Lakes Brewing on their 20th birthday. No, not the actual brewers, but their children: beer. Specifically a couple of bottles of the beer they brewed to celebrate their milestone anniversary, Imperial Dortmunder.

Dortmunder is one of those styles that is an excercise in hairsplitting along the lines of an ESB vs. a pale ale or a robust porter vs. a stout. Dortmunder-style brews are light and crisp lagers extremely similar to pilsners, only with a slightly darker color, a bit more maltiness, and a smaller hop presence. And, remember, we’re comparing this to Czech-style pilsners that, unlike American macro-swills that like to call themselves pilsners, actually have color, maltiness, and a hop presence. And, since this is an imperial version of Great Lakes’ wonderful Dortmunder Gold, you’d expect … well, a big-ass Dortmunder.

And that is exactly what Great Lakes delivers. Imperial Dortmunder pours a crystal clear, medium gold, right down the Dortmunder style alley, topped by a low-profile, slightly off-white head. Sharp, earthy hops over soft pilsner malt notes make up a relatively strong aroma. The sip starts with a soooooft mouthfeel and a body that would be heavier for a normal Dortmunder but still what many beer dorks would consider on the lighter side. Spritzy carbonation and sharp bitterness initially overwhelm the tongue before heavy pilsner maltiness melds with earthy Euro hops to create a flavorful but dry finish.

Imperial Dortmunder is what it’s advertised as: an amped-up Dortmunder, with a pronounced pilsner malt/hop mixture that creates a super-flavorful beer. And that abundance of flavor totally hides the 7.5 percent ABV. My only complaint is that despite the subdued head it was a little over-carbonated, making the first few sips a bit hard on the tongue, even though I poured pretty close to the recommended 45°. But all in all, a great beer from Great Lakes to celebrate their 20th. Help ‘em celebrate by picking up a four-pack if you see one.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on August 18, 2008.
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