Brewing Company: Great Lakes Brewing Company
Location: Cleveland, OH
Style: Red Ale – Imperial / Double
ABV: 8% | IBU: 70%
“A great balance of hops and malt help to define an American Craft classic and a seasonal Hallowe’en Classic.”
From Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Nosferatu page:
Don’t be afraid of things that go hop in the night! Rich roasted malt flavors haunt the shadows of our Imperial Red Ale’s bitter teeth.
Ruby red in color with a toasty malt body lurking beneath a stunning hop bite.
Great Lakes Brewing is one of the most respected independent American brewing companies of the last few decades. One of their seasonal favorites (along with their outstanding Oktoberfest and Christmas Ale) is Nosferatu, a hoppy, malty Imperial Red Ale, the beer spotlighted today.
I’ve had quite a few beers from Great Lakes, I’ve enjoyed most of them to a fairly significant degree but Red Ales haven’t been much of a go to for me. A few things led me to finally grabbing a four pack of this beer:
- Hallowe’en is approaching, one of my favorite holidays/times of the year
- I’m long-time fan of horror fiction, and the Vampire/Nosferatu is one of the most iconic horror images
- Seeing this beer favorably compared to an all-time favorite in Tröeg’s Nugget Nectar
In other words, this beer brings together my love of great beer and dark tales.
The pop of the bottle cap is a nice sound I don’t hear too often any more, most of the beers I’ve been drinking have been out of cans. As for the beer that pours into my glass – yep, that’s a red ale. A deep red that is somewhere between amber and crimson, in my eyes. There’s a nice foamy head initially, too. Aroma is a little bit of hoppiness, but to be honest, nothing else too noteworthy. It smells like a beer.
There’s a very prominent hop presence in that first sip. Given the relatively high IBU level of 70, that’s not a surprise. It is not off-putting the way some overly hopped beers are because Great Lakes brewed this beer with a significant level of malts, three kinds, that provide a caramel sweetness to balance the hops. Going by the fact sheet on Great Lakes Brewing’s Web site, the hops used here are Simcoe and Cascade, both extremely popular hops and hops that helped to drive the hop-forward beer movement of the 90s and early 2000s. Simcoe has emerged, for me, as a favorite in recent years so it was especially nice to see its pronounced flavor complemented by the great Cascade hop in Nosferatu. I had a second bottle about a week after the first bottle and the Simcoe hops help to make this beer work so well for me.
Insert standard suggestion for higher ABV beer to let the beer open up to room temperature a little for greater enjoyment.
The name of the beer and label are immediately recognizable, the silent film Nosferatu is a film that has left an indelible mark on horror genre and the vampire mythos. The beer is a worthy homage to that image and character – Nosferatu the beer is a wonderful, complementary marriage of hops and malt that gives a flavor worth savoring.
A beer like Nosferatu is a bold reminder that some beers with a little bit of history behind them are worth enjoying now and in the future. It is also a beer that helps to showcase the great diversity in the portfolio of Great Lakes Brewing Company. Given the name of the beer, the eye-catching imagery of the label, and most importantly, the bold, delicious flavor, I can understand why Nosferatu has been an annual favorite from Great Lakes Brewing Company. I know it will be in my refrigerator for Halloweens to come.
Recommended, link to Untappd 4-bottle cap rating.
*Those aforementioned book reviews:
- NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (adapted to an AMC television show featuring Zachary Quinto, an “OK” adaptation of a spectacular novel)
- ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
- The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (published this year, an instant classic and somewhat reminiscent of King’s ‘Salem’s Lot) by Grady Hendrix