Great Lakes Brewing's Nosferatu

October 21 2010 - 12:45 PM

Nosferatu Fall beers are the current theme, but now I must discuss something especially dear to my heart. That subject is Great Lakes Brewing’s Nosferatu.  It is hard for me to write about this beer without gushing a bit (can one have a crush on a beer?) because I love everything about it.  I’ll try to rein in my glee with some facts.  For starters, Nosferatu is an elite beer and in the conversation regarding the world’s best red ale.  Its pedigree is sound, as it is made by a terrific brewer, Great Lakes from Cleveland, Ohio, which has one of the most formidable rosters of everyday beers -working class beers that emulate the parent city – and several dynamite seasonals, including the Blackout Stout and Nosferatu.  Also, Nosferatu’s packaging is ultra-cool.  The bottle and the four-pack box feature the 1920’s-era vampire with a menacing glare as he unwraps his cape.

The beer itself is not exactly menacing but certainly bold.  Nosferatu is brewed for a fall release every year and was released this year right around October 1.  I was fortunate enough to arrive at Guthrie’s Pub in Lakeview right after they tapped the first, fresh keg.  My pour was in a tall stem glass.  It featured the brilliant ruby color – naming the beer after the Nosferatu vampire is strikingly clever – and a bulbous white head of foam. Strong floral hops are immediately evident on the nose as are slightly sweet malts.

Nosferatu hits your tongue with a sharp hop bite then the soothing malts briefly smooth over the palate with some caramel and burnt sugar flavors.  Be ready because the hops win this battle on every sip with piney and herbal flavors that insuflaveis resembly Surly Furious, and a bit of rye on the finish.  I think it’s more aggressively hopped this year than in the past but is still truly a winner.

Nosferatu’s not really a session beer, given its 8% profile and its bold hoppiness.  It pairs perfectly with any strong meats as the hop aromas and acids will slice through oils and fats.  I generally drink this on its own to avoid the intervention of other flavors. It is that good.

Nosferatu is a world-class beer.  Along with football, it’s one of the top reasons for beer lovers to look forward to fall.  Fortunately, Cleveland sends quite a bit of it to Chicago in four packs.  You can find it at Whole Foods and other craft brewery friendly liquor stores, and also on tap at many of the best microbrew taverns.  Like most elite beers, it drinks extremely well out of the bottle.

It’s only around for the next month and a half so grab some while it lasts.  It will haunt you thereafter.