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The Beer Circle » American Pale Ale, Beer Release, Great Lakes Brewing Co. » Release: Great Lakes Brewing Company in Northern Virginia

Release: Great Lakes Brewing Company in Northern Virginia

A group of friends and had enjoy a semi-working happy hour at Rustico Ballston on February 27th for the release of Great Lakes Brewing Company in Northern Virginia. Naturally, because their beers are available in DC and PA, pretty much the entire group was pretty familiar with their offerings. Never ones to turn down free beer glasses, we decided to stop by anyway.

They had a couple reps from the brewery come out and they passed around a ton of swag: posters, shirts, glasses, bottle openers, etc. They pretty much had all the regular offerings available including Dortmunder Gold, Elliott Ness, Burning River, Commodore Perry, and Edmund Fitzgerald on-tap. With each beer priced between $6.00 or $6.50 plus a free pint glass…before happy hour, you couldn’t complain at all, compared to paying that for Yuengling down here.

We rolled in a little early, so I decided to start with a taster of Burning River Pale Ale, an ode to the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, which has caught fire around at least 13 times in its existence (I’ll hold off on making fun of Cleveland here). I moved on later to their Commodore Perry IPA, and finished with the staple Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.

Burning River
Clear orange pour with a finger of white head. Nice lacing, but the retention isn't great.
Light hop profile with a sharp maltiness. Some other fruit notes I can't place. Malt forward, sweet and light overall.
The taste is very clean. Light maltiness and some fruity hops, bordering on bitter. Not a big taste, but enough to be enjoyable and make you want more.
Light body, carbonated well, really drinkable.
$2 for a taster. Love that price to try a lot and not get tanked.
The drinkability really sets this one apart. My glass was gone before I knew it, certainly could have gotten a couple pints and not thought twice about it.

Beer Stats
Style: American Pale Ale
Serving: On-Tap
Size: 5oz
ABV: 6.0%
BA Score: 90
RB Score: 97

It was at this point that our experience turned into what I’ll call interesting. Our waiter was slow, brought out the wrong beer and food order on separate occasions, and called Great Lake’s porter “Edmund Something.” At a Great Lakes release party, at one of the best beer bars in the area, where they have only five beers on-tap, I think I’m not out of line expecting the servers to know what they’re talking about. Since we got there early, I saw that Great Lakes had been set up since around 5pm, but then it seemed like they disappeared and we had no interaction with them until around 8pm. Though I was initially disappointed, I found it it was because they were really busy. Lauren got to our table eventually, and we knew from twitter that the “girl in the bedazzled Great Lakes shirt” would buy us a pint. So, our table got a round for free! It was at this point that I realized that the poor parts of our experience came solely from Rustico, not Great Lakes.

Overall the event was a disappointment, which is certainly an outlier when compared to my other experiences at both Rusticos in Northern Virginia. It just wasn’t anything special.

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Written by Russ Beck and Garrett Miller

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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