The Mule (Notch Brewing Company)

Style: American Corn/Adjunct Lager

4.2% ABV

Hops: Sterling, Crystal
Malts: Rahr Pils, Carapils, Flaked Corn from Four Hills Farms

Yeast: Lager

Brewer’s Note: “Our American Corn Lager (AKA Pale Lager) is brewed with Massachusetts heritage variety corn, all American malt, and US lager hop varieties. A true lager, and a true American original, we revisited this much maligned style. An unfiltered, straw yellow appearance, that start slightly sweet and finishes bone dry. The hops are the star – Sterling and Crystal provide nice flavor and big aromatics.”

DSCN4646Before you think anything stupid about corn in beers, I advise you to read Notch Owner/Brewer Chris Lohring’s piece on the corn lager and why he chose to brew one.  The man is a great voice in the craft beer world and he needs to be listened to. (http://www.notchbrewing.com/2013/07/30/corn-myths-and-a-mule/)

The beer’s label is the most graphic of Notch’s labels yet, is still wonderfully text based.  The kicking mule is interesting, and has a great “newspaper cartoon” look to it, which goes brilliantly with Notch’s newspaper layout label theme.  Fonts are still simplistic and beautiful on this beer, and the background of blue and pink/salmon/tan rays coming out from the mule’s hoof is funky and interesting.  This label is worthy of labeling, and is perfect for any collectors of text based art.

DSCN4642The beer pours a rich, golden color, much like dehydrated piss, but with a fizzly, soda-pop head of bubbles that hardly forms a head, and quickly becomes a partial scrim.  Honestly, it looks a little ugly in the glass. In body, the beer is properly clean and free of particles, giving just a touch of protein haze to the beer.  Bubbles of varying sizes are a constant part of the beer.  On the nose, the beer smells of surprisingly sweet citrus, like an American pale ale…?  Light malt with a touch of vegetal spice, which might be the corn, is also present in the background of the smell, but the American-esqu hops seem to be the biggest characteristic in this beer’s smell.  Lemongrass is the chief scent, along with light grapefruit and even a touch of pine.  This smell is not what I was expecting, but it is nice and hoppy.  On the tongue, the beer tastes lightly sweet and softly bitter with just a touch of bright acidity in the middle.  The beer finishes mostly dry, though a slight sense of sweetness still lingers on the palate.  In flavor, the beer begins as bright citric lime and lemon grass flavors, with a soft, cornflake flavor dancing on the sides of the tongue.  The citrus transitions more towards the grassy, spicy side of things in the middle of the palate, bring hay and soft pepper to the palate and is accompanied by light, bready corn that builds as you drink more of the beer.  The finish is short, clean, and softly grainy, with a slight vegetal touch that is not displeasing.  Smooth cornflake flavors hit again at the very end of the finish and linger in the aftertaste.  In the mouth, the beer feels thin, and slightly watery, with just enough body that I feel like I’m sipping a good beer.  It’s soft and crisp on the tongue, while the carbonation is a soda-strong and tickles up the tongue with a slightly prickly scrub.  The mouth is left slightly wet, but clean and crisply dry.  Overall, this beer surprised me in ways I was not expecting it to surprise me.  It’s is nicely hoppy, and surprisingly American in its hop profile, and if I didn’t know better, I would actually say this is a pale lager version of Notch’s Left of the Dial IPA.  It’s bright and expressive and very interesting, but I was honestly hoping for a bit more corn in the flavor…  This is a good clean beer that has some lovely nuance and flavor for an Adjunct lager, and definitely shows a new take on the style, but it didn’t wow my palate like other Notch beers have done.  It’s good, but not amazing.

(Note: My final pour brought about the yeast shot, and added some deeper, almost Hefeweizen-style haze to the beer, and with that haze, the beer’s head was bigger and lasted longer, and the corn flavor was more pronounced and interesting.  Personally, I would try shaking up this bottle before I pour it, as that would get the yeast in suspension and give a little extra flavor to this beer.)

DSCN4648

3.75/5, A- in Style

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