UPDATED: NOV 13, 2011 I drink so many craft beers that I’ve reached a point where I might consider certain beers “run of the mill” even though they’re of higher quality than mass-market brews. Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55 is a good example of this. It’s a fairly normal pale ale that tastes good despite not having any real distinctiveness. But that’s a “flaw” I can easily forgive.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Pennant Ale pours smoothly to a clear, honey-colored complexion. It’s a pretty shade of light brown and dark orange with a touch of red noticeable. Not overly carbonated, the beer forms a slightly less-than-average-size, off white, soapy head which dissolves at a nominal rate but leaves only a trace amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma points towards a hoppy body with a dark pine scent and just a hint of citrus to the nose.
Pale ales are known for their bitter taste due to their heavy use of hops, which is true of Pennant Ale. However, unlike most beers of the genre, this one is not quite as crisp and light, but imparts a darker, heavier, thicker mouthfeel. Caramel seemed to be a main ingredient, although the bottle says the beer will have a fruit taste. While a citrus-like taste is faintly noticeable, this is not what I would consider a fruity beer.
Much like the nose, pine seems to be a key ingredient. Combined with the seemingly caramel-like taste it’s actually quite rich with a taste of dark sugar or syrup. But unlike those “imperial” beers which drink like alcoholic syrup, Pennant Ale still drinks like a beer and is tasty without being gimmicky.
I often criticize beers that do not have a smooth finish, but such a finish is not always an expectation. Since Pennant Ale is a pale ale with a strong hop component, it’s not surprising it has a strong presence on my palate. And while the finish isn’t extremely easy, it’s far from difficult. At the very least it’s quite drinkable.
What surprised me about this beer was its sheer volume. Ideally, this should be a fairly light or at least average weight beer, but considering its rich texture and taste, it drinks like a much stronger, darker, heavier beer. Pennant Ale is only 5% ABV which makes it something of a session brew, but its body imparts something more for moderation. Let’s just say after only two bottles I was more than content but not overwhelmed.
I’m glad there are still beers out there like Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55 which will throw me for a loop now and then. This beer challenged me as a critic and a connoisseur, and I’d imagine it’d have a similar effect on the everyday drinker as well.