Saturday, April 16, 2011

470. Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Über Pils

Our sixth beer from Heavy Seas, including Smoke on the Water Imperial Smoked Porter, Heavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Aged Below Decks, Clipper City IPA/Loose Cannon Cask and Loose Cannon 420 Cask. My initial thought when I saw the beer at the store was that “Über” signified good, as in the adjective indicating a person (or beer, in this case) that exceeds normal limits. When I got home and realized I had actually grabbed a 7% pilsener, it dawned on me that Heavy Seas was more interested in using “Über” as an adverb that designates having a specified property to an extreme or excessive degree. I know, I know, silly me. See what an English degree gets you? An inability to follow even the most basics of beer advertising. And yes, that fragment is intentional.

Small Craft Warning pours a crystal clear golden copper—let’s call it an über gold in keeping with my grammar lesson from above—with a decent white head that lingers and lightly laces. The nose is sweet and malty with the appropriate noble hop and lager character, although the malt character is more dominant and thus uneven in comparison. As it warms, a spicy and earthy hop aroma emerges that offers better balance. Flavors start with toasty and honey malt sweetness; the middle dries out, featuring biscuit and hop bitterness. The finish has the lager tang and a touch of citrus flavor, along with a slight touch of alcohol flavor, although it is light and unobtrusive. The lingering hop bitterness washes part of the alcohol away, but not all of it. While as a whole the beer is a better than I expected, the mouthfeel is a bit cloying and sticky, especially as the beer warms. The increased hop presence as the beer warms helps, but not quite enough. Drop the grain bill to make this a 6% beer while leaving everything else the same, and I think you’d have a much better beer: sharper hop character, drier profile, and crisper finish. Still, this six pack won’t go to waste.

From the bottle: “Unofficially the original American Über Pils, Small Craft Warning is a rich. Golden bock lager with big malt flavor and a crisp hop finish.”

ABV: 7.0%


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