The Lakefront Eight Pack

I’ll admit it, the marketing worked for me. I was in the Mecca of Ales knowns as Beers of the World in Rochester, where I had my choice of any number of amazing beers that I could have hauled back with me to Syracuse. But the eight-pack got me.

Although twelve is actually the perfect number, the twelve-pack has gotten a little boring. My friend Bruce and I had conceived of the “nine-pack” many years ago (three rows of three beers, a perfect square!), and though we got too bombed before we followed through on it, it was a great idea.

I hadn’t read anything about Lakefront Brewing, a Milwaukee-based craft brewer, but the reasonably-priced eight-pack, which consisted of eight different beers, intrigued me all the way to the register.

I usually like to read up on beers and find out about breweries, therefore when I come to a huge store like this, I’ll have some idea where to start. So you can imagine, this was quite a display of spontaneity for me. My shrink will be proud.

But were these beers any damn good? Let’s find out.

  1. FUEL CAFE.

    Pours a super-dark brown, with a bubbly light brown head. Red at the edges. Completely opaque, leaving a nice crown of cardboard-brown lace. The nose is of coffee and alcohol, with an oily stout malt in the smell. Slightly toasted cocoa powder with hints of caramel, toffee and butterscotch. The smell is clearly this beer’s best attribute.

    On the palate is an oily feel, followed by a dry, ashy finish. It’s lighter bodied than one would think.The taste is raisins, plums and dates. On the back of the tongue, mocha and bitter coffee. Still, it’s more sweet than bitter, and the dark berry/fruit aspect wins this tug-of-war. A bitter balance would have helped it. This beer’s aroma gives false hope, but it’s still a decent beer. I give it a B+ due to the complex smell.

  2. KLISCH PILSENER.

    The color pours a flat, hazy color halfway between gold and canary yellow. The head is nice: big, smooth and white, and hurried carbonation. The aroma is sharp German-style malts, typical pilsner. The hops are slightly flowery with a hint of bitter citrus.

    The beer is fizzy and thick on the tongue like orange juice; almost pulpy. The flavor is sharp hops that come at you bitterly, but in a flowery, perfumey way. It’s actually juicy, with mild notes of orange, lime and tangerine. It’s different but it’s nice enough.

    This one, I give a B, because it’s a decent beer, but limited in what it can do because it’s a pilsner. A more complex aroma could have gotten it more points.

  3. ORGANIC E.S.B.

    Any time I see the word “organic,” I smell trouble. The color here is red-orange. Hazy fluffy head with some nice carbonation. The aroma is a pleasant-enough English-style malt. Bready with a very mild, estery hop. It may be due to its age, but there is a minor musty funk in the smell. Can’t bode well.

    It feels creamy, almost like Guinness-creamy. Feels substantial with a pretty nice warming alcohol. The taste is strictly average. A mild ESB flavor,with a subdued estery hop and a bready malt base. There is a surprising alcohol bite toward the end. Just a twinge of spicy Belgian-ish malt flavor, but just for a second. It has that musty aftertaste, which I would blame on age if any of the other beers in the eight’er had the same thing.

    This one is a B-. It’s got that odd funk in the smell and taste, but the texture is actually quite good. Still, not ideal.

  4. IPA.

    Ok, so this one is ridiculously cloudy. Huge particles of sediment floatng everywhere. A big foamy head. The color is a glowing yellow-orange. Cool-looking actually. The smell is a nice piney hop, with some flowery notes as well. Only the slightest hint of citrus. It’s a nice hop aroma, balanced by a decent bready base.

    The body here is creamy, like an IPA should generally be; it finishes smoothly. The hops in the flavor are of the woody/pine variety, with some oak. Heavy perfume flavor, with serious bite on the back end at the swallow. I’m actually shocked by how strong it is. The problem is, there is no malt backbone to ground it, which makes it one-dimensional.

    This is actually closer to an Imperial IPA, given the 7% alcohol and the massive woody hop presence. It’s challenging, but not quite balanced enough for me to give it anything more than a B. It seems that halfway through, Lakefront has all the elements, but can’t quite put them all together into one beer.

  5. BOCK BEER.

    Pours a terrific-looking dark, cloudy orange. The head is big, creamy and snow-white. It leaves a thick, icy lace. This is the best looking beer in the pack so far, for sure. The smell is heavy notes of sweet caramel and milky butterscotch. Dark brown sugar and toffee. The smell could best be described as darkly sweet. Crisp lager malt comes through as it warms.

    Feels smooth and buttery; a milky consistency, although it gets a little watery toward the end. The first thing you taste is butterscotch. Dark toffee and molasses follow, and then caramel and brown sugar. I think you get the idea. It’s nice, but almost a bit too sweet.

    I’ll give this one a B+, it’s a malty treat, and would be outstanding with a slightly more bitter balance.

  6. EASTSIDE DARK.

    Looks brown like Cola, reddish when held up to the light. The head starts nice, but fades almost immediately. The aroma is dark later, with brown sugar and — yes — cola. Mildly toasted coffee and cinnamon. When it warms, hints of licorice come out.

    Feels milky and bubbly. The taste is spicy cinnamon (similar in some ways to the Anchor Christmas beer, although not quite in the same league), over a malted cola flavor. The malts are dark and lightly roasted, with hints of molasses. In this one, the balance works between the darkness and the sweetess.

    This one is a B+ too. It’s not exceptional, but a solid dark lager.

  7. RIVERWEST STEIN BEER.

    And here it is. The crown jewel of the eight-pack.

    The head is huge, fluffy and bubbly. The color is a deep, rich red-orange. So many bubbles, they actually obscure what’s on the other side of the glass. The color is good, the head retention is great, and the lacing it leaves is incredible. The aroma is bittersweet amber malt. Very rich, heavily malty, but with a flowery hop that fits perfectly. It’s earthy, and so nice.

    Beautiful smooth, chocolate milk feel; smooth as silk. The taste has more of the aforementioned butterscotch, but is quickly followed by rich toffee malt, which is sweet but dark. The malt is nutty, like hazelnut, rounded off by cocoa, mocha and toasted nuts. Vanilla bean and mild brown sugar. The hop here is but an accent.

    This is the best beer in the pack so far. Rich, smooth and nutty. A- is a fitting grade for this great beer….

  8. CATTAIL ALE.

    …Which makes this last one all the more disappointing. The look is a sunny, clear yellow. Hints of orange color and tons of carbonation. A nice enough coat of icy, specky lace. The nose? Well, smells like a light ale … ok screw it, it smells like a macro-lager at best.

    The taste is woefully underwhelming, like a wimpy, skimpy lager. Flavors of corn. I wouldn’t really call it unpleasant, but it’s bargain-basement. Wouldn’t be out of place at a frat party in a can. The feel of this beer is light, but does have a touch of a creamy body. This is a basic beer, one that Lakefront would be wise not to make its flagship, as its C would be my grade for it. It was a challenge for me to finish it.

There are enough decent beers to prevent this from being a rip-off, but the Riverwest Stein Beer is the only one of the eight that I would purchase a full six-pack of. Otherwise, it’s strictly hit or miss.

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~ by William H on June 26, 2009.

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