Big Beer Series: Frankenlager (Smuttynose Brewing Company)

Style: India Pale Lager

6.1% ABV

60 IBU

OG: 15° Plato

Malt: North American 2-Row

Hops: Bittering- Magnum, Flavor and Dry Hop- Saphir

Yeast: WLP-920 Old Bavarian Lager

Brewery’s Note: “When you pour Frankenlager into a glass, you’ll be struck by its deep golden color, clarity, a signature grapey aroma and clean malt character./ Our new, automated, German brewhouse gives us excellent controls over mash profiles, so we’ve decoction-mashed this beer, which helps with the extra clarity, but more importantly, adds the unique grape-like character. It’s a traditional German technique for lager brewing and we’re very excited to be able to use it here. A more efficient boil means a cleaner malt taste and a brighter, smoother beer. By automating, we control all the times and temperatures. On a brewhouse like this, it really is all about the recipe. Our new centrifuge spins out residual yeast and solids to the level we choose, which also means that we reduce waste, while cleaning up the visual appearance of our beer, another significant step forward.”

The beer pours a paler, straw yellow with golden highlights, forming a lovely, eggshell white head above the beer with nice lasting power. When splashed against the sides of the glass, the beer leaves thin, sheet-like strands of lacing on the glass, reminiscent of Smutty’s Farmhouse Ale. In body, the beer is spotlessly clean and clear, with just a touch of haze. On the nose, the beer smells deliciously spicy, with a nice citrus/white grape character balancing out the spicy hops. Bready malt gives further finesse to the smell, lending it a balanced, Germen-esque twist that separates it from other IPL’s I’ve smelt. This beer has plenty of hops, but they are balanced and deliciously delicate. As it warms, I get a scent of nettles and a cool spring meadow. I like the scent. On the tongue, the beer tastes fruity up front, transitioning into a bready sweetness that is balanced by a healthy, herbal bitter bite that eventually dries out the finish. Slight acidity does begin the sip, and puts a vinous pop to the mouth. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet Riesling, swiftly gaining a bready, nearly rye-like spice that then plunges into grassy citrus with nuances of hay, and a faint kick of pale malt. The spice develops peppery hints, moving from green pepper flesh, to white pepper spice as the beer warms. In the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied, with a crisp-though-heavy mouthfeel and middling carbonation that gives the tongue a nice fluffing, and a slight prickle. When the beer leaves, the tongue is left with a resinous sheen of spittle, while the mouth feels dry and bitter. In all, despite its heavier mouthfeel, the beer goes down bizarrely easy, making it far too easy to drink (I’ve put that to the test…). This is a lovely variation from the IPA’s-with-Lager-Yeast trend that IPL’s have been following as of late, and it actually piques my interest as to continuation of this style. Look at the complexity and subtlety that can be squeezed from milder/non-American hops used in abundance!

Working for Smutty, I’ve noticed this beer appeasing Hop Heads and Hop Haters alike, which is a pretty neat thing for a beer to do. It’s not something that will knock you out of the park, but it’s a damn fine easy drinker that is borderline day-drinkable, which is dangerous for its alcohol percentage. I think it should at least hit a 4-pack in the future… I suppose we shall wait and see.

(Also check out my food pairing review for this beer with Sriracha Chicken Ramen here)

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