Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold – Review #11

Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Review, Great Lakes Brewing Company

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Total Score: 89.0, B+               Reviewed 11/27/2011

Today’s brew is my first review of a beer from my hometown Great Lakes Brewing Company. In 1988 Dan and Pat Conway opened the doors of Great Lakes as the first microbrewery in Ohio, producing about 1,000 barrels in their first year of operation. To meet growing demand the brewery has expanded and upgraded several times since then, and today brews over 100,000 barrels every year. The brewpub, which features excellent food and atmosphere in addition to their great beers,  has bullet holes in the bar area which supposedly were made by the former “Untouchables” leader Eliot Ness. In addition to their focus on brewing exceptional beers, Great Lakes is also committed to environmental and social responsibility. Part of this commitment can be seen through their Sustainable Farming Initiative, through which they operate two small community farms.

Dortmunder Gold is perhaps Great Lakes’ best known beer. It was originally called The Heisman after the trophy namesake John Heisman, who was born around the corner from the brewery. It was renamed Dortmunder Gold in honor of it being awarded the Gold Medal at the 1990 Great American Beer Festival. Since that first award, the beer has gone on to win 14 Gold Medals and one Silver Medal (in 17 years) at the World Beer Championships. According to the bottle, this style of beer was so popular when it was first brewed in Germany it required armed guards when it was transported anywhere. Fortunately I got this bottle home without incident (or armed guards), probably because the plunderers are focused on GLBC’s legendary Christmas Ale this time of year.

I’ve done everything I can to keep any bias out of it this review, but it can be tough to be objective about anything from your favorite hometown hangout.

From the familiar Great Lakes bottle it pours a radiant gold with a fluffy head just to the top of the glass. Head fades quickly and unremarkably but leaves a nice layer on top and a decent amount of lacing. While the smell is good and nicely balanced between the earthy and citric hops and sweet, grainy malts, it is a bit restrained and doesn’t quite wow. Taste definitely does more for me than the smell, as the hops tend to show a bit more here and lend a correspondingly soft bitterness. Malt flavor is a nice sweetness at the beginning, which evolves into a somewhat grainier taste later in the sip. All in all the flavor is very well balanced between the malt sweetness and hop flavor and bitterness. Solid/sturdy medium body with moderate carbonation and pretty dry finish that really lingers.

I feel pressured to love and rave about Dortmunder, being that it is the flagship beer of my hometown brewery. Overall I find it to be very good, although not quite exceptional. I see it as somewhat of a utility beer that can fit just about any situation and go with just about any food. A good choice that I certainly will drink many more of.

Looks: 9/10     Smell: 8.5/10     Taste: 9/10     All-Around: 9/10

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