As many of you may know, I no longer work at Great River Brewery, and I was never very consistent in posting reviews on their beer, except for the few seasonal rarities. But now, since I can take an outside perspective, I felt it fitting to let you know what I thought about the beer I made. Thanks to Trevor for sending me an assorted case of Great River's beer up to Holland. Tasted Thursday night after an extremely productive day cranking out some of 2012's Ichabod Pumpkin ale and a poet. Snifter Served.
Appearance: The pour produced a large dense foam cream colored head that, as dissipation ensued, began falling back into the beer with a sticky soap textured stature. The color is a brilliant ruby with what some might consider an amber base. Clarity was optimal which makes me think GRB went back to filtering with 2μ filter pads. Lacing was dry and would cling sticky to the glass. Carbonation appeared to be on the high side as bubbles congregated on the sides of the glass.
Aroma: The first scent I get from this is the rich malt base that makes this beer so sweet and caramel/toffee-like. Next, an assertive "beer" scent overtakes the rest of the complexities that could be present. Nutty, but with minimal fruitiness. Diacetyl (Paul, you should get that) is certainly a contributor to both smell and flavor.
Taste: Rich caramel and faintly toasted malt formulates the base of this beer. A touch of nuttiness contributes a sweet undertone that is prominent throughout. The midtaste emerges with an even greater sweetness reminiscent of toffee. Finally, as the beer rounds to the end, one can easily perceive the peppery complexities that are derived from the sterling hops, combined with a tannic husk flavor as well as a subtle, but familiar astringency that I have difficulty putting my finger on. The aftertaste remains with the finishing hop flavor paralleled with the initial earthy malt. As the beer warms, some faint oxidation emerges.
Overall Impression: This is one of the first base beers the Great River did, that and the 483 pale ale. Rich and malty with a nutty complexity and a peppery, dry and refreshing finish. Malt is the primary emphasis revolving around British crystal sweetness. The bod is fantastic and smooth. While at the bar, I'd recommend this to anyone who was unfamiliar with beer, or who were looking for "Lite" beer. This appeals to all palates across a very broad spectrum.