On a trip to Benz Beverage Depot, my local institution for beers of all kind and wine if I decide to get nasty, I came across a couple of local craft beers that looked interesting.
Great River Brewery in Davenport, Iowa–okay, they say they are based in the Quad Cities–was founded in 2004 in Iowa City but moved eastward in 2008. The good folks at Great River are brewing up six different beers on a regular basis and I picked up two four packs of Roller Dam Red Ale and 483 Pale Ale.
Roller Dam Red Ale is up first:
Mild in alcohol (5.3% ABV) and bitterness (30.6 IBU) this version of a red ale is easy drinking, which is turning into a backhanded compliment for beers that are not supremely memorable yet well executed. The problem that I have with red ales in general is that I always seem to taste something “soapy” for lack of a better adjective. Starting way back in the mid-1990s when I would quaff Leinenkugel’s Red with friends in the summer before college to red ales that I have tried from craft brewers across the country there has always been that “soapy” flavor.
483 Pale Ale does not have any of that “soapy” flavor:
Why? This is one “hop forward” beer. Great River claims it is “aggressively” hopped with Centennial hops. No argument with that assessment. You can tell this is a dry hopped beer because the aroma is powerful from the moment you crack open the can. Dry hopping is the new black in the craft beer scene because it allows for a bold hop aroma with over bittering. 483 Pale Ale is mild in alcohol (5.3% ABV) and moderate in bitterness (48 IBU) so the dry hopping is the characteristic that really comes to the fore throughout the glass. If anything, the heavy hand with a single hop comes across as a little bit one note and the beer would be well served to mix it up with some of the more obscure hops available. Regardless, this is a well crafted beer.
On a different note, I am becoming a convert to craft beers in cans. It just seems like a much more logical packaging option than glass bottles–no light penetration, lighter packaging, no breakage, etc. With the advent of more small scale canning systems the hope is that more brewers will go the can route.