Monday, July 2nd 2012
Great Crescent Dark Lager
(Great Crescent Brewery)
The CraftCans Nation won’t be surprised to hear us admit that there’s a special place reserved in our beer-marinated hearts for craft brewers who make great beer and can ALL of their beers. Great Crescent is one of those breweries. With this review of their Dark Lager we’ve crossed the halfway point and sampled seven of their dozen canned beers. Our quest to track down the final five continues.
From the Great Crescent site:
"This beer is based on the very first commercially brewed beer in the state of Indiana. The name of the brewer was George Bentel. His house is still standing in New Harmony. The Harmonist brewer and cooper, George Bentel, was born November 3, 1781 in Iptingen, the same village in the Swabian kingdom of Württemberg where George Rapp was born. Bentel lived at the northeast corner of Brewery and Grainery streets, where his house remains today, as upright as when Indiana's first brewer marched out to make his beer almost two centuries ago.
The German utopian communalists in New Harmony were Indiana's first significant brewers. Beginning in 1816, the Harmonists eventually brewed enough to sell all the way up to what is now West Virginia and down into lower Illinois. From the historical record, it appears the Harmonists brewed a porter-like dark beer. It must have been pretty good beer: An educated German, Ferdinand Ernst, stopped in New Harmony during his journey through the frontier region. “They served me a stein of beer,” Ernst wrote, “and I was not a little astonished to find here a genuine, real Bamberg beer.” He gushed that the Harmonists “must be happiest people of entire Christiandom.” A Louisville agent for the Harmonists reported, “Mr. Breeden, the most celebrated porter seller in the place says the strongest part of it would almost pass for porter and is the best beer he has ever seen in this country…”
Here we go...
Pour - Deep, dark mahogany in our glass, like caramel with a touch of chocolate mixed in. Wet but fairly sturdy tan head with bubbles of every size sits on top and recedes within a couple minutes.
Aroma - Sweet grain and grassy hops. A little bit of licorice starts to come out as it warms.
Taste - Wait a minute…this isn’t what we expected from a lager. At the cold start we get light sweet malt with some roasted grains at the finish that reminded us of a Schwarzbier. As it warms the mouthfeel becomes more full, the roasted grains offer up some chocolate flavor and combine with what we suspect are Noble hops to give a more bitter, coffee-like finish with some caramel goodness hanging around for an aftertaste. Amazing.
Overall - Every once in a while we run into a beer that is very different based on the temperature, and they’re usually lagers. And those of us who have been drinking lagers for a couple decades may have been conditioned to drink them ice cold to mask the true flavor of what is in our glass - don’t do it with Great Crescent’s Dark Lager! We liked this beer so much better when it warmed that we were convinced it could be an ale, and we wrote this review over four different samplings just to be certain we weren’t imagining the complexity that showed up at higher temperatures. The CraftCans team highly recommends this beer; just take care to not let it get too warm when what we think is the lager yeast starts to take over and some sourness coats the palate.
Note - Dark Lager was Great Crescent’s ReplicAle at the 2010 Indiana Microbrewers Festival. Based on a cursory internet search, dozens of Indiana brewers took up the challenge of recreating the state’s first commercially available brew, including our good friends at Sun King Brewing. As best as we can tell, Great Crescent is the only brewer to have canned their version inspired by a very old recipe. To learn more about this small Indiana brewer go HERE. Cheers!
Posted by Trent
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