Seth Wright of the video beer podcast "Beer Nation" joins me via Skype to review a beer made around the corner from him (literally). Brooklyn Local 1 is a Belgian-style pale ale, not unlike Duvel - but with an American twist. Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster for Brooklyn, is known for being creative and not afraid to brew niche European styles.
I haven't reviewed a Brooklyn beer on this show in a while (and I really should seeing as how they're a New York brewery), so I thought trying one of their highest-end offerings would be a good way to get back in the saddle.
3.9AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
Normally, I’m not a huge fan of Belgian golden and pale ales as they tend to be a little too peppery and dry for my tastes (I actually find Duvel to be only okay instead of outstanding). But then along comes Brooklyn Local 1 - an American beer that emulates the style very well using actual Belgian yeast, German malts and hops, and African sugar - and now I have a whole new outlook on the style! Maybe I’m just a big fan of American updates and improvements on "Old World" styles.
I poured a 750ml bottle into a tulip glass (not all at once, of course!).
Appearance: A beautiful bright yellow color that almost glows! Very hazy, yet there is plenty of tiny carbonation bubbles to be observed rushing to the top. Forms a huge, bright white, fluffy head. It lasts a long time but never leaves much lacing (odd).
Smell: If I didn’t know any better I’d think this was a Belgian beer with its banana-like esters and a spring flower garden fragrance. It’s perfumey and slightly tropical, although I think it might be a tad too light-smelling.
Taste: This is basically the American version of Duvel only better. This beer has a much cleaner, lighter taste. You get a definite banana flavor from start to finish with a touch of citrusy/tropical fruit flavors not unlike those found in a witbier or saison. It’s lemony and would pair extremely well with fish. The aftertaste is dry and akin to black pepper, but not nearly as "dirty" tasting as Duvel.
Mouthfeel: This beer doesn’t tear up or dance on my tongue the way an authentic Belgian might, but there definitely is a strong presence in the mouth. At the same time, the fluffy head and thick body impart a comforting softness.
Drinkability: Because it’s so highly carbonated, Brooklyn Local 1 is definitely a sipper, lest you take massive belches after each swig. There’s a strong drying feeling in the aftertaste, not unlike a dry white wine. Not as crisp or refreshing as you’d associate with the style. The 9% ABV isn’t apparent in the nose or palate, but you’ll definitely feel it after one serving. Not a good idea to drink an entire bottle yourself.
Overall, an impressive beer for its "Belgian in American clothes" character. Perhaps a bit simple, but a tasty beer to be sure. I like it and recommend it.