Being from Milwaukee, Lakefront Brewery has been a brewery that is always available, and I took it for granted as a decent brewery that happens to brew beers in the same state as New Glarus. Recently Lakefront has made some really original and clever marketing changes to make me notice what a great brewery I have in my own backyard.
One of these additions is the Lakefront 88, a four pack of 22 ounce bottles (or “bombers”). Each pack features four different rotating beers. It is a big plus that each of the beer styles are fairly unique compared to some sampler packs that feature pretty standard styles such as pale ales, wheat beers, IPAs, porter or stouts. Priced at around $17-18, it is a fantastic deal to try four different kinds of beers, especially considering how it’s nearly impossible to find bombers that cost less than $5.
The first beer I decided to drink from the sampler pack was the IBA, or the India-Style Black Ale. As I discussed in a previous article, Black IPAs are like regular IPAs but have dark, roasty malts instead of pale malts, to add complexity. This one appears to be no different as it pours dark brown, nearly black, with a dark tan head, which leaves nice lacing down the side of the glass. It looks like it could be a lighter-bodied porter.
All similarities to a porter, however, are lost once you smell the beer. Big, piney, light citrus, earthy hops dominate the aroma. Surprisingly, very little roasty malt is present in the nose. Based on the smell, I was expecting it to taste just like an IPA, but darker in color. The beer features a near-perfect blend of citrusy hops, particularly orange, tangerine and clementine, and roasty, almost coffee-like, malt. Each flavor seems to take its turn while drinking the beer, but neither dominates the other. It is a very drinkable beer given its lack of bitterness and that none of the flavors are too strong, but it’s still complex.
Next is the Bridge Burner, an American strong ale. This beer was also dark in color, but had a red tint. This was one tasty smelling beer, however. Fruity hops and yeast go along with a bit of sweet malt. There was even a bit of cherry and plum in the aroma. The beer, initially, is equally tasty; it starts off with sweet malt and a cherry flavor with subtle citrus notes and ends with piney bitterness. The beer is a little watery and not extremely smooth, but still a good drinkable beer. It almost reminds me of a less aggressive Stone Arrogant Bastard ale. If only Stone Brewery distributed to Galesburg…
The third beer in the pack was Rendezvous, a Biere de Garde. Rendezvous is another good looking beer—cloudy, dark copper with an off-white or yellow head. The aroma leaves much to be desired, however. Only some light yeastiness and buttery cracker or bread is present. The taste started with smooth, slick amber malt to start with hints of butter or butterscotch. Light, earthy hops provide bitterness halfway through the taste. It finishes with earthy yeast and some spiciness similar to a saison. It’s a light bodied beer with an impressively smooth carbonation. Rendezvous is yet another balanced beer from Lakefront.
Fixed Gear, an American Red ale, closes out the four pack. The beer pours an orangey brown color. The smell is dominated by tangerine and clementine flavors from the hops, but I have to wonder where the malt is, as it smells more like a pale ale than a red ale. The orangey hops are very prevalent in taste, which ends with some dry malt. I wish there were a bit more malt as Fixed Gear borders on a pale ale opposed to a red ale. Overall, however, it is a very tasty, easy drinking beer that features a fantastic orange flavor from the hops.
At the time of writing this article, there were two 88 packs left at the Hyvee on Henderson. I highly recommend them as they are an inexpensive way to try four different, unique styles of beer.