Weekly Beer Geek: Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA
- Article by Luke G
- June 28, 2012
Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA
Great Lakes Brewing Co
Price: 2-ish bucks a bottle
The Beginning: This is one of the absurd number of beers that my loving family and friends got me for my birthday, feeding both my addiction and my need for new column material. Generally, I think India Pale Ales (IPAs) are watery and overly hopped. Imperial IPAs, though, have been described to me as being a bit heavier and with more punch to it, resulting in less overbearing hoppiness. Also, there have apparently been reports of a Nessie-like creature sunning in the Erie shallows. I was unaware of this, but it confirms for me how little I want to swim in Lake Erie.
The Brewer’s Pitch: My info may have been partly faulty, as an Imperial IPA is also known as a Double IPA, brewed with higher amounts of hops for more hop flavor. However, it’s also extra-stacked with malt that could help bring balance to the force. It explodes with hops but stays clean and clear with a blend of two hops species. Simcoe brings the bitterness but stays smooth, while Fuggle is an English hop that adds earth tones and a bit of complex layering.
The Beer: Lake Erie Monster is a pale amber with gold notes at the edges, and about a finger and a half of fluffy golden-yellow head. The nose is strong hops but without quite the same ragged bitter edge of many IPAs, with a bit of honey sweetness underneath. The beer is full and slightly dense but has a coarse fizzy texture. As promised, the hops barrel into your tongue like a truckload of dynamite but they are a bit tempered. More subdued and earthy than average hoppy beers, Lake Erie Monster is a bit earthy and a tiny bit fruity, with a plant-sugar taste that seems to catch on the sides of my tongue. The peppery, herbal taste of the hops rides over the smooth, subtle malt like a wave, and when the malt fades you are left with a burning tingle that has just a bit of honey along with a bitter pucker right at the back of the throat.
The Breakdown: While IPAs and other hop-vehicles will never be my favorite beers, this one is a pretty damn good offering. I think most hoppy beers are way too bitter, and the more floral-hop varieties are way too dry and pucker for me to really enjoy them. This one has the earthier, peppery herbal hops taste that I’ve enjoyed in other beers. The malt is an interesting counterpoint, a faint bit of roast and grain that just moves through the hops taste. The real winner, though, is the little bit of sweet that’s in there. Too much and it could easily make for a weird taste combination of bitter and sweet, but as it is the sweetness gives just a little relief to the back end of the beer to keep that pucker from making me frown.
The Bottom Line: One beer down, at least 12 to go before there’s enough room in my fridge to buy milk again.