Grand Rabbits- Dry Hopped Cream Ale
Blackrocks Brewing Co.
It’s time for another trip to the well from Blackrocks, one of a growing number of breweries bound and determined to put craft beer in cans. I’m pretty sure I only review Blackrocks beers in the Summer. Is that because their beers feel summery? Because the cans suggest themselves as made for being taken to the lake or out by a fire (where bottles might break)? Is it because in the winter I shun anything that reminds me of the frozen wastelands in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which we cede to the White Walkers between November and May? Probably one of the three, sure!
The Brewer’s Pitch:
The only explanation that Blackrocks musters for calling this beer “Grand Rabbits” is that 1) it’s a pun on the city of Grand Rapids, and 2) it’s dry-hopped (get it? Hopped? Rabbits?) and that’s the kind of lazy punnery I can firmly get behind. Grand Rabbits is a dry hopped cream ale made with sweet sweet Lake Superior water. It’s dry and refreshing, just what you want in the summer, just what you want on a hot day drinking on the porch or the beach. They also describe it as their crisp “get stuff done” beer, giving you the impetus and the cool-down needed to get to work. If you need beer to get stuff done you may have a problem, but ehhhh no worries. Willamette hops work with a creamy sweet grain base, adding citrus lemon & orange zest notes to sweeten and crisp the beer, and provide a snappy dry finish.
Grand Rabbits pours a dingy hazy yellow (disturbingly evocative of a urine sample) with a dense, tall bright white head and a nose that is strongly redolent of hops. A lightly sugary backbone underlies the floral bitter spike of the hoppy aroma. The mouth feel of the beer is very light but also very smooth and creamy, a true cream ale. The first thing you taste in the beer is a clean bitter hops flavor, incisive and sharp but not overly heavy. As you go, though, the cream ale base begins to assert itself and the beer feels fuller and grainier. Malt notes develop and slowly sweeten the taste without ever overwhelming the bitterness. As the beer warms, it gradually becomes a sweet ale with a remnant of hoppy tingle that leaves a clean tart aftertaste.
The smell of this beer alarmed me, it promised something extremely hops-heavy and bitter. However, it was a delightful surprise. Even the first taste was a “hey, that’s not bad!” and by the end I was a fan. This beer isn’t extremely complex. Some of my favorite beers are bad for casual drinking because they can overwhelm the palate, make you crave water, and interact shall we say “poorly” when paired with random chips and snacks and liquor. This beer is simple and fresh, and something I’d gladly throw in a cooler for a weekend away. It’s not TOO simple, though- it’s a palate pleaser as it does its slow fade from more bitter to more sweet. This is how you do a hop-forward beer that isn’t angry at your tongue.
The Bottom Line:
I think I spent longer deciding whether we ceded the UP to the White Walkers or to the Snow Demons than I did on any other line of the review. Just another look into my high-integrity journalism!