Dundee Pale Bock Lager

Dundee’s Pale Bock Lager

The fourth type from this sampler 12’er, the Pale Bock Lager. Yes it has a cartoon character, a dancing goat in his town suit who is so dancy that he’s spilling his beer. And there’s a catchphrase: “Big and Malty” and that wouldn’t be a bad idea for one’s tombstone, in case you were in the market for an epitaph.

But i do have a wonder about the beer’s name. Shouldn’t it be Pale Lager Bock, as in a bock beer made from lager leftovers? Well, then again, the rest of this 12-pack makes me wonder if this is actually a bock beer at all, or if they’re just trading on the word since Dundee = Genesee and Genny’s best effort is their annual bock?

But “pale” is right, this is far paler than any bock should be, and the taste is much lighter than a bock ought to be. But it’s nice. As usual for Dundee, it’s sweet, but that’s one thing that’s at home in a bock, so in this beer the sweetness is somewhat forgiven, where with the others of the Dundee flock it’s ugh.

It calls itself big on the malt side of things, and well, that’s a relative thing. The pale ale and IPA really lacked any trustworthy malt taste, so the mere fact that this one has a beer body makes it big. It’s like saying your hog farm is the best one in Fallujah. In some cases, “only” can also mean “best”.

I wish it were more sour, like a bock should be, but it is what it is. And what is it? A good beer for drinking on its own, this and the Pale Ale are the good ones out of the sampler. As a bock, this is not pedigreed, so really don’t know if i can rate this alongside other real bock beers. If so, it would score pretty low.

But as a beer that just happens to have the b-word, word along with “lager” and “pale”, this is not too shabbed. An odd topsy-turvy case, where if this turned out to be real bock beer, then the rating would go down. Considered as a lager, it fares much better: a 5.9 (brought down by the sweetness).

Rohrbach Highland Lager

Rohrbach's Highland Lager
Rohrbach’s Highland Lager

Only info on the can, as usual with Rohrbach, is “crisp German style amber lager” but at least that’s 100% accurate. Nice amber color, a bit on the sweet side in the taste, and it is frankly as crisp as an autumn sunset. Alk content can’t be too high, since i had three of the customary pint cans in a row and this did not slosh my nosh.

Taste is great, this is a fine lager for relaxing, hearty malt flavor and it does have that German twang to it, though of course it does not have that German bite to it, but it also does not have that German whap to your head either. As with most Rohrbach beers, this is competent and experience shows in the result. Also, this is the last Rohrbach beer to review for me. They have a Vanilla Porter which i was not wowed by, good beer but not a strong vanilla taste. And they have a Blueberry something-or-other, which i will not touch with a ten foot pole, not even a borrowed 10-foot pole.

I prefer lagers a little less sweet than this, so a 7.0 rating seems appropriate to my tastes, lowered for the sweet and uppered for the color and weight.

Yuengling Light

Yuengling Light
Yuengling Light

Continuing on the tour of crap beer, another light but this one’s from the maker of my beloved Black & Tan. And actually it’s not the terriblest. The color is nearly amber, but we can assume that this is caramel food coloring. Like most lights, this one’s about 100 calories per dose, or fashionably just under that, 99 in this instance.

And in this instance the taste is probably the best light i’ve had, but that’s like saying it’s the dumbest rock in the quarry. It’s a light beer so it’s watery, doesn’t smell like beer, rather some kind of pungent soap. The taste is beer-water so don’t be fooled by the color. A step above some lights, on its own this beer-like liquid rates 2.3.

Not for solo consumption, but i bought it for this anti-quest, and it works just fine for blending with YB&T. They are cousins, after all. And they kiss like it. Together they make a beer which is not sad to drink when you’re chilling, although Yuengling Light is also as sweet as Yuengling Black & Tan, so the combination is fairly darned sweet. I don’t think i could binge-watch some show with this as my only blended beer.

J.W. Dundee Honey Brown Lager

J.W. Dundee Honey Brown lager
J. W. Dundee’s Honey Brown lager

Mentioned this beer in an earlier review, so thought i’d better explain, expand, and expound on it. Made by J.W. Dundee, which is a sub-nameplate of Genesee Brewing that arose in the 1990’s. Dundee came out with a few other beers, but the Honey Brown Lager was the only one which really stuck, and AFAIK the only one still regularly sold today.

Name comes from the fact that they use honey in the brew, and you actually can taste it. Not so brown a beer, more amber-ish these days, i remember it being darker in the 90’s. But it still has that same taste, a rich and warm sweet, even when served cold, and though the label calls it “extra rich” i don’t know if i’d go that far, but it is definitely “regularly rich”.

Being a lager at heart, there’s a swarthy feel to the beer in the mouth, a meal beer, not a prancing dessert beer, even if it is sweet. And that’s the real rub here: Honey Brown is good because it’s honey-sweet, unexpected in a lager and pulled off well by Gen- err, Dundee. Something about being in beer makes the honey taste like dark honey, if that’s even a thing. This honey is to real honey as brown sugar is to plain sugar.

And that rub again: great taste and a fine way to shake up your beering once in a while, but just can’t drink two of these in a row. The first sip is refreshing and surprising, the rest of the gulps are heavy with a sweetness you’re glad to have. Your first Honey Brown is always great. But try and drink another one, and it suddenly tastes… less great.

Don’t misunderstand that. If you’ve never had this beer, by all means try it. You’ll love it. There’s a reason why they still make it. But if you bring a 12-pack of it to a party, there had better be 12 people there. They will all love it. But make sure nobody has seconds. After one, they’re saying “hey that was fantastic, gimme another one!” Don’t let them do it.

A second Honey Brown in a row lets the sweetness take control and you no longer taste the lager, all you taste is the sweet. Same rule with wedding cake. After you’ve been working up a sweet-tooth at the reception with a few drinks and choice of haddock, chicken french, or spag bolo, a hunk of over-frosted cake is fantastic and gives you the energy to force Aunt Regina to do the Limbo. But your second piece will only have one bite missing, and might force the rest up backwards if Aunty Reggie forgot to wear her undies.

I found this in a 24-ounce can, and as i write, am now into the second half. Sure enough, i’m a little less eager to grab the next gulp. The first half was excellent, something new and different (haven’t had a HB in a few years). But now it’s getting more towards a cloying sweet, and it feels more like a duty than a joy to finish the last 10 ounces. It’s really an unusual beer, how the contrast between your first and your second is so glaring.

So you’ve been warned, one of these every week is just right, but more often and you won’t like it. Don’t hold that against it. I’ll rate the first Honey Brown at 6.8, just be circumspect about how often you drink it, since the rating plummets fast after one beer.

Leinenkugel’s IPL

Leinenkugels IPL
Leinenkugel’s IPL

Holy cow! I haven’t seen a twist-off cap in years, hahah! The recent craft trend is to cans, even, and long ago it got to be that brewers of good beer blanketed disdain on the screw-off cap. Actually, it requires a more expensive piece of machinery to seal caps like that, which is why smaller places (with tighter budgets and thinner margins) have usually gone for the pry-off cap, but it has turned into a point of beer snobbery.

According to the bottle, this IPL (already ranted on that term) is 6% alk and Leinenkugels is the Pride Of Chippewa Falls since 1867. So i’m 149 years late for that party, but seems i came at the right time. I love the body of a lager wearing the sexy dress of megahops, and this one sproings the sprongo too. Odd thing is that Texas, The Land Of Ridiculous Government Regulations, considers this an ale, not a lager beer.

Real delicious, no matter what it really is. It’s got that beefy real-beer body and jammed full o’ hops for a good aftertaste which soaks into the upper-rear palate and hangs there for a couple minutes after each glug. Good and fulfilling, though not really a Summer beer with the beefy alk level and heavier, curvy body. Sweeter than an ale, no matter what Texas nutballs say, and the bottle’s claim of a smooth finish is just about right.

Had better IPL’s, but trying another one is never a bad idea. If you’re like me, which nobody is, you’ll like this. I’ll give it a 7.0 because it’s good but not exquisite.

Magic Hat Mother Lager

Magic Hat's Mother Lager
Magic Hat Mother Lager

Bottle comes with their wry Vermont sense of humor, and their customarily dry Vermont beer. Good lager, with that mid-mouth effervescence you got with the fad of “dry” beers back in the 1980’s. At 5% alk this is a candidate for casual drinking, and the taste has that great savory feel of a lager, like they usually end up hopped into orange, rather than ales which get hopped into lemon.

Never had a bad Magic Hat, and today is any other day. Buy Mother Lager from Vermont SSR and they can get wheeled prosthetics for all their 3-legged cows. Production! More sour than bitter, with a real friendly malt texture. A real good lager, and i like lagers, so this comrade earns an 8.4 rating.

Widmer Bros Hopside Down IPL

Widmer Brothers Hopside Down IPL
Widmer Brothers Hopside Down IPL


Another hop-op-along from the haunts of Portland in Oregonia, this time it’s an IPL, which is ridiculous but everyone thinks that if you use the letters I and P then it’ll sell better. But for a reality check, there is no such thing as an “India Pale Lager”. There’s not even such a thing as an India Anything in beer, besides India Pale Ale. The whole idea is that an ale which is top-fermented can be sealed in barrels in London, and packed onto a ship bound for India. On the way the malts and water and yeast turn it into beer. And it’s hopped so strongly because it’s crappy beer, with all that sloshing around for 4 months on the ocean.

You can’t brew a lager on a sailing ship. Just want to make sure you understand clearly that no lager, not even a highly hopped “pale” lager, has anything to do with India, whatsoever. And IPA for that matter, has strong hops to mask the crappy beer, not as a culinary delight for connoisseurs. It was intended to be cheap and barely drinkable for the British occupying forces in India, and soldiers, as we all know, will drink anything not clearly labeled “Poison”.

Today, the reverse is true. People are making pale ales with actually good beer malts, and not fermenting it in dark rat-infested cargo holds where the constant pitching and rolling ruins the beer. So there’s no need for all that hoppiness today. Now, it’s just tasty.

The name of this one, “Hopside Down” is just as absurd. It’s not an IPA brewed upside down, it’s just a lager brewed like a normal lager, with the fermentation happening at the bottom of the chamber. The only difference with this lager is they jammed a bunch of hops in there. It’s a hoppy lager, that’s all it is. Nothing “India” about this at all, other than in the feeble minds of marketing idiots.

Just so you know.

Now on to the beer. As it happens, i prefer lagers and i like IPA’s because of the strong hops, so this one is right up my pants leg. The goofy popularity of IPA’s has led many micros to make hoppy lagers, and although i roll my eyes at their stupidity when they try to call one an “IPL,” the fact is that this type of beer was made for me.

Plenty of fun info on the bottom of the carton, where you can only read it AFTER you’ve bought it, heheh. There’s a nice drawing of their brewery, and they note that it’s “under the Fremont Bridge” so we can only assume that the Widmer Brothers are trolls. Hey, i don’t care if they live under a bridge and eat nanny goats. I don’t have a goat. And i don’t judge lifestyles, only beers. Could be orcs for all i care, just keep the hopped-up lagers coming!

From the carton, this’s got Pale and Caramel malts, they used Cascade and Alchemy hop varieties, and there’s a number for “apparent extract” which i have no idea about. But, what i do know about is the IBU’s which are at a healthy 65, and the alk which is at a swarthy 6.7%. And there’s another number, “Color,” which is apparently measured in something called an “SRM” whatever that is, and this beer has eight of those.

It is pale for a lager, nicely golden-yellow, has a good smell to it, and the taste is not as crisp as a real IPA, but rounder and sweeter in the mouth, almost something you can bite into, which is what i like about lagers in general. Hops are pretty nice but seem lighter than that 65 IBU rating would suggest. That’s the inherent problem with hopping a lager way up high: there’s more solid beer body which just absorbs the bitterness. With an ale, the body is so slight that the hops are swimming around on their own, unfettered and free to attack.

So it’s a tougher balance when you try to hop up a lager. These Oregonians have pulled it off nicely. Mixing in pale malts leaves some hops on the loose and yet the mass of the beer is pleasingly hearty. Like i said, this kind of frankenbeer is just right for me, and i love this example muchly. It’s nearly buttery, so velvet smooth and richly flavored. I recommend this for human consumption. In moderation, naturally, with that 6.7% alk lurking inside.

At $9 for a sixer, this is one of them crafties which is worth the premium, and have no trouble awarding it an 8.5 rating. Just wish they’d stop calling it an IPL, grow a ball and make up your own brand name for this kind of beer, wouldja? Don’t be a pantysniffer trying to coat-tail the IPA brand. Your beer is better than that. You are better than that, Widmer Brotrolls.

Kona Longboard Lager

Kona's Longboard Lager
Kona’s Longboard Lager

Not much to it. Light for a lager, a savory taste, slightly spicy, a hint of sweetness. Decent beer, but not much to write home about. This one is my first taste of a Kona beer, and though they win an award for very nice bottles, the label makes me suspicious. It lists 5 towns where they brew this beer, 4 of them not in Hawai’i, so we don’t know if this qualifies as a craft beer or if it’s one of those zombie brews which was bought out by a major player, only to be simplified, bastardized, and mass produced by industrial drones in a commercial food production environment.

Can’t say i recommend this one, and not just because of the suspicious label. Mostly, this reminds me of the weak lagers prevalent in the 1980s. Almost a perfumy taste, like licking the wrong kind of toad. Can’t give this more than a 2.2 rating, for confusing natural sweetness with an incomplete fermentation.

Narragansett Lager

Narragansett's Lager
Narragansett’s Lager

Hi neighbor!

A newcomer to this area in NY, although apparently something of a staple on the New England seaboard. And the reason it’s popping up in NY: now the stuff is being brewed by the Genesee Brewery in Western NY and exported to its natural habitat, the docks of Rhode Island. And not a moment too soon, in my opinion.

The well-priced 30-packs are $19 ($18 on sale), at least close to the source, and for that money it’s a fine beer for sitting around watching the Olympics. $4 more than the same pack of a Genny product, but that extra 13 cents per beer makes a world of difference. Narragansett is drinkable on its own, whereas Genny beer and Genny Cream Ale are not. With the Gennies, you have to get a companion six of a dark beer to mix some flavor into each pintly pour.

The alk percent is not listed on the packaging, but this is obviously made for a long day fishing, and does not trash your noggin even after a few pints. The particular can pictured above is actually one of their “throwback” series, and is the beercan seen in the 1976 movie Jaws. They needed a bigger boat, but the beer was just fine for hunting the great white.

Their preferred nickname is “Gansett” and the website is that plus dotcom, since they don’t trust people to remember if there’s two R’s or one. I say WTF, since they’re counting on people to remember a double T at the end. Goofy. My nickname for this decent lager is “Nargy”, though when in a mood for a flourish i might call them Narglebargles.

It’s trash beer, i’m not going to lie about this, but it’s a drinkable trash beer… in fact the only trash beer which is drinkable on its own, without needing to be jumped up by adding a few oz of black+tan. As trash, it’s only going to rate a 4.1 here, but if you’re baking clams for fifty people and need a couple hundred beers, this beer won’t embarrass you.