Featured Contributor Matt @SportsNCraftBeer
The 12-pack “Brewer’s Lunch Box,” from Fort Collins Brewery, includes five varieties of session beers. Anyone that has read my previous posts knows I have an affinity for the breweries located in Fort Collins, both because of the quality of beer they produce (I argue), and because that is the place where I transformed from “beer fan” to “beer snob.”
Beers range from common to “out of the ordinary,” such as the pomegranate wheat beer. Sample packs commonly have a few lesser-known beers. It’s like when you wanted to get Star Wars action figures as a kid. You wanted Luke and Darth Vader. Instead, you got Luke and Pilot #5. However, with beer, we all win when we get a new beer to try – that’s what we love to do!
Without further ado, it is time to review!
Major Tom’s American Wheat Ale: 4.80% ABV
First off, the name is “American Wheat Ale,” but the label also says, “pomegranate wheat ale.” When I read that, I assumed the pervasive taste of pomegranate would be the first thing I noticed — I was wrong. I enjoyed the beer, but the presence of pomegranate appears strongest in the aftertaste, and it is mostly comes in the form of nondescript sweetness. The pleasant, but complex, aroma arises from the pomegranate, citrus, honey, herbal scents, and even some pear (or apple, maybe). The overall taste of this smooth, slightly carbonated, robust wheat beer includes balanced malt and subtle hops along with the hint of sweetness emanating from the fruit. Overall, if they didn’t call this a pomegranate beer and just called it a wheat beer, it might be graded higher. In the end, it is a pleasant beer that would be perfect for accompanying a night on a patio during a warm summer night.
1900 Amber Lager (4.50% ABV)
This beer does not enjoy high ratings on many of the popular beer rating websites, but I think for a lager, it is pleasant. It looks like an ale when poured: hazy, orange, and thick with good lacing. The aroma reminds one of fresh bread coming out of the oven – it made me hungry! The understated taste includes a balance of slight bitterness and malt. But, this is a lager and it tastes like a lager – easy drinkability with no flavors that slap you upside your head. For how the beer is advertised, I think the beer is very good, although I would like more malt. Regardless, this beer would pair with lunch very well.
Red Banshee Ale (5.30% ABV)
I thoroughly enjoyed this session beer. The aroma is underwhelming. However, this dark reddish-brown beer is not for sniffing or admiring, it is for drinking. Strong notes of malt, caramel, brown sugar, rye, and pine along with a subtle hoppy-bitterness provide tremendous balance – like a perfectly good burger on the perfect bun with the perfect condiments – sublime!
Rocky Mountain IPA (6.20% ABV)
Any hophead that sniffs this beer will fear that they are about to be disappointed. Don’t worry! The first sip delivers a full-bodied hoppy bitterness and the aftertaste is no disappointment, either. Additionally, caramel, toasted malt, citrus (orange, mostly) and a plethora of other subtle flavorings provide for a well-rounded beer. However, this is a real IPA; the hops flavor dominates the overall flavor profile from start to finish. The ability to balance strong bitterness with an astoundingly complex array of flavors make this an A+ beer – it’s terrific.
Chocolate Stout (American Stout) 5.30% ABV
I love stouts and porters, but I have mentioned in other writings that I normally do not enjoy overpowering coffee and chocolate notes. However, this chocolate stout proved to be quite enjoyable. I fear, though, that it is enjoyable for the wrong reason. I thought the notes of caramel provided for the principal taste attached to this particular stout. In contrast, coffee and chocolate flavors sat in the background. While the beer appeals to me, is it truly a chocolate stout? Regardless, the caramel, coffee and chocolate, along with notes of malt, supply beer drinkers with a solid, enjoyable, stout. In the end, though, there are easily 50 stouts that are similar to this selection, so I can’t say much stands out about this beer. It is not my favorite, but it is good.
Overall, I certainly enjoyed the “Brewer’s Lunch Box.” I would give it a solid A-. The IPA certainly existed as the star of the show, in my view. The chocolate and pomegranate beers were good, but they did not appear to live up to their name/description. The Amber Ale and Red Lagers were both solid brews. In the end, this variety pack exemplifies the quality of beer that exists in Colorado, as well as within the craft-brew world. To say I’m satisfied with this purchase would be an understatement. Kudos, Fort Collins Brewery!
Writer, beer lover, and sports aficionado.
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