Fearful Symmetries

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04 July, 2017

It Wears the Color of the Summer Soldier: Grandes Lagos by Great Lakes Brewing Company



It wasn't that long ago that I was enjoying a hibiscus beer and now here comes along another one.

Beers made with the tropical flower aren't exactly ubiquitous but they're not rarities that come around as often as Halley's Comet either. Here in the Madison area we've got Vintage's Hibiscus Saison that heralds the arrival of warmer weather every spring; starting this year Revolution's Rosa now also heralds that meteorological change for we Cheeseheads. 5 Rabbit's Huitzi features the flower as does Milwaukee Brewing's Weekend @ Louie's. And surely there are other examples from breweries farther afield some of which surely distribute here. Ooh! Widmer Brothers' Marionberry Hibiscus Gose. Can't forget that.

The latest hibiscus brew to come to my attention is Great Lakes Brewing's Grandes Lagos, a Mexican lager that spent some quality time with the tasty flower. It's a spring seasonal that I believe was introduced last year but only on draught so now folks farther afield can enjoy it.

To be honest, I don't know what a Mexican lager is. Lakefront introduced one this year called El Wisco so perhaps this is something of a trend. With novelty being so highly coveted by the American microbrewing scene, every style will surely get 15 minutes of fame. After some limited investigation, my hypothesis is that a Mexican lager from an American microbrewer is a pale lager made with maize and generally given a name that begins with "El" or ends in "-ito" for that extra touch of authenticity.

Grandes Lagos (i.e. - Great Lakes), like the last hibiscus beer I had defied my expectations and wasn't pink. Rather it was more of a pinkish orange and quite clear. Nothing much to report as far as the head goes. Small, white, and off like a prom dress. However, the brew was fairly effervescent with a decent number of bubbles inside. All in all, a pretty beer.

My nose caught some popcorn, biscuit, and of course that lovely floral scent of the hibiscus.

I suppose the point of a craft Mexican lager is that it helps you beat the heat by being light and refreshing. Grandes Lagos certainly is that with its light body, firm fizz, and solid crispness. None of the flavor here were particularly strong – there was a little corn to be tasted alongside a mild maltiness The hibiscus was complementary and not overpowering. It had a bright floral taste plus some tartness which went well with a mild grassy hop flavor.

The floral tartness remained after the beer had gone down my gullet and it was joined by a little spicy hoppiness which was moderately bitter. Just enough to conjure a pleasant dryness. Not much lacing – just an occasional spot or two.

Endowed with that essential aestival trifecta of being light, fizzy, and crisp, Grandes Lagos is made for the dogs days of summer. The corn and malt are pretty mild (but not too weak) so, while they are always there in the background, it's the tasty hibiscus that shines. I love their floral flavor and the gentle tartness they bring.

Junk food pairing: Stick with lighter fare for Grandes Lagos. Try a bag of guacamole flavored potato chips or some white cheddar popcorn.

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|| Palmer, 8:06 AM

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