Tackling a monster and cooling down in the hot month of June with a craft brew can be accomplished in one swig of Great Lakes Brewing Company’s “Lake Erie Monster.”
An unapologetic and bold Imperial India Pale Ale (IPA) brewed in Cleveland, the Lake Erie Monster pours into a honey appearance, with a hue of amber. The carbonation is heavy and a thick head emerges, but nothing excessive.
The aroma starts off very floral, but then moves in a very natural, almost woodsy scent. You can smell the hops prevalent in most IPA’s, but the very piney, organic smell is particularly attractive and unique.
Moving to the taste, the soft mouthfeel almost masks the intense hops that follow. The taste is nearly identical to the aroma, save for the floral aspect, as the beer tastes remarkably natural and unprocessed, which is slightly surprising considering the heavy carbonation in the pour.
The lacing around the edges is actually fairly thick for an IPA, but nothing much to speak of when the beer is done.
The finish definitely sticks with you, as the bold hops dwindle on the palate. Perhaps my only real qualm with the beer is that the finish is a tad harsh, but that caveat is diminished when reminded that you are drinking an IPA, which is known for bold, assertive flavor.
I would give it an A- (beeradvocate.com gives it a B+), as there is slight room for improvement in the finish, and the beer could likely use just an ingredient or two to add to the overall complexity.
The suggested food pairings on greatlakesbrewing.com are pork chops, steak, aged cheese and dark chocolate, but I found that my chicken sandwich from Raisin’ Canes turned out just lovely (nothing can really ruin this beer).
Overall, this is a fantastic beer and a wonderful IPA. Great Lakes already has a fine IPA in the “Commodore Perry,” but they have really undone themselves with this organic masterpiece.