Fearful Symmetries

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22 July, 2015

The Feng Shui of Beer: Lakefront's Cherry Lager



Spring is apparently the season for cherry beers. First I tried Victory’s wunderbar Kirsch Gose and now we have Lakefront’s Cherry. Cherry is one of Lakefront’s seasonals and I believe it is their late spring offering following Lent and the brewery’s Shrovetide maibock.

Lakefront is one of the grandfathers of Wisconsin microbreweries. The venerable brewery started in 1987 just after Capital and Sprecher but it’s only been in the past several years that growth has really taken off. They innovated by brewing a gluten-free beer, New Grist, and have more recently taken the plunge into the IPA waters. Plus Lakefront simply brews some really tasty annuals with their Riverwest Stein Beer, an amber lager, being a fairly common sight on taps in Madison.

Most of the brewery's year-round beers are now ales but most of their seasonals, including Cherry, are lagers. Cherry, then is at once a nod to the German brewing traditions of Milwaukee as well as a novel pairing of beer and fruit. I suspect that most beer drinkers tend to think of Belgian kriek lambics when it comes to cherry brews and not German-style lagers. (Although German brewing traditions once included the Kirschenbier, which was apparently similar to a kriek.)

Cherry, as you can see from the photo above, is a pretty reddish brown. I got a nice pink head on my pour but it didn't last long. It was also rather effervescent as there were lots of bubbles heading upwards and onwards.

The brew's bouquet was as nice as it looked with a bready, malty sweetness and the scent of tart cherries being most prominent. I also caught a more general fruity aroma that was redolent of stone fruit. The beer's flavor mirrored the nose with the succulent sour cherry flavor from the Wisconsin Montmorency cherries hitting your tongue first. Hot on these fruity heels was the fine grainy flavor that tasted less sweet than its aroma. It was a bit like toast and reminiscent of melanoidins or whatever you call those wonderful malt flavors you get from Malliard reactions.

Cherry finished with a nice lingering cherry tartness plus a bit of spicy hop (Mt. Hood?) flavor.

Truth be told, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. It has a fantastic fresh tart cherry flavor which is complemented by a malt-grain flavor that isn't too sweet and just a touch of hop bitterness for good measure. All of the flavors are in harmony here as if it were brewed according to feng shui. (Perhaps Lakefront's tanks point north to Door County.) I'm not sure what kind of malt or malts were used in this beer but I loved their toasty flavor. I wish more American brewers would use melanoidin-rich malts or decoct or do whatever it takes to get these flavors.

Cherry's medium body and 6% A.B.V. make for a nice spring beer – some succor for those final cool days before the summer heat descends.

Junk food pairing: Raise a glass of Cherry along with some pork rinds and/or smoked string cheese.

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|| Palmer, 8:08 PM

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