too many breweries do the “California Common” style anymore. If you’re
going to make a lager, usually you opt for a generic pale or a specialty
pilsner of some sort. There’s a lot of risk and little reward to making
a beer of the style, even to spec. Baxter Brewing’s “Tarnation” is
definitely true to the style, but only a good beer overall. It tastes
fine and drinks easy, and if that’s all you want from a beer like this
then mission accomplished.
I poured a 12oz can into a lager glass. It was canned on 12/23/14 and cost $2.95 ($0.25 per ounce).
Appearance: Dark amber to copper color with slight haze. Overall, pretty
clear with consistent carbonation visible. Pours to a small, white,
foamy head which laces and retains pretty well.
Smell: Surprisingly muted nose; minor notes of bready/toasty malt; a generic lager scent.
Taste: There’s a surprisingly high amount of malt character to this
beer. It’s immediately recognizable; pale malt, plenty of amber/honey
specialty grist and some light toasted character make for a rather sweet
palette. Though it uses the traditional Northern Brewer hops, it’s not
an especially hoppy beer. Just a general dry bitterness through the
middle. The finish is familiar to anyone that’s drank lager as it has
the classic flavor, only much cleaner. I’d think a little more
distinctiveness in one aspect might give this beer the edge it needs to
be more than just passable.
Drinkability: At 5.3% ABV, Baxter Tarnation is about average in weight
for a lager, and the style per se. It’s refreshing while in the mouth,
though it does leave a slightly pasty aftertaste. It’s comfortable,
though, and easy to drink as the mouthfeel is thin-to-medium with fairly
high carbonation. Works well as a year-round lager and would stand up
to snack fare.