Blue Collar Brew Review –
Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA

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Two weeks ago, while on a Friday beer run, I picked up an extra sixpack for a Friday night just in case the overtime for that night was cancelled. The details of who/what/where are immaterial to the subject at hand. The overtime didn’t go away and I saved the beer for another weekend. I had planned on reviewing that particular beer tonight. But something I noticed on the bottle had me scrambling.

The time was right and I was ready to drink beer and write about it. I grabbed the first bottle and poured it into the glass. I took the first sip and I wondered how I was going to explain the taste I had just experienced. The taste description on the label didn’t match what I was tasting. I looked a little closer.

Etched on the bottle was the bottled-on date. I dropped my jaw and my eyes fell out of their optical orbs when I discovered that the beer was bottled on 02/03/09! What the…? That was about a year-and-a-half ago! I kinda figured that the beer was a little off. That first and final sip was quite bitter. It broke my heart to dump it out and rinse the glass.

What was I gonna do? What time was it? Just after ten. I had briefly entertained a thought about abandoning the review for tonight, but what was I gonna do for the rest of the evening? Shit. I jumped in the mighty Tundra and sped off to the Four Seasons Beer Store with the hope that they had some decent brew somewhere in their giant coolers. Would they even be open at this time? After all, this is Morris.

As I approached the store, I saw that all of their running lights were still on. I entered the establishment noticing that they were open until 10:30. I had plenty of time to spare.

Staying in the cooler aisle I scanned up&down, left&right and sometimes diagonal, upper left to… nevermind. Quite a few beers briefly held my interest. Another one from Metro brewers in Chicago, Flywheel. Two Brothers, some Italian beers I never heard of and a nice row of black, tall-shouldered sixpacks from Great Lakes Brewing out of Cleveland. Hadn’t I had all of these? Hey, waitaholdit. There was one of their beers that I hadn’t tried and I gave it a coupla minutes of my time.

The beer in question was Commodore Perry IPA, “A Handcrafted India Pale Ale”. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I checked for a date. There it was:

For freshest taste, please enjoy by 09/05/10.

The price was about reasonable for a hopeful great tasting beer, and I did have the luxury of six beers instead of a four-pack or two bombers. Quick, while it’s still cold, run up to the counter and pay for it so I could drink it and write about it. We lucked out. I chucked the hexad in the beer fridge and spent some brief time gathering a little information about it.

I know that Great Lakes always names their beers after some historic event centered around Cleveland, Ohio. This one was no different. This comes from the neck label:

Under heavy attack of cannon fire, Commodore Perry rallied his sailors with the battle cry “Don’t Give Up The ship!” Since the five Great Lakes contain one-fifth of the world’s fresh water and our beer is over 90% water, our battle cry is “Don’t Give Up The Sip!”

Kinda clever, I guess, and it does have a historic note to it.

The side label had a little more info about the bottle contents.

Medium-bodied and well hopped with a dry, fruity aftertaste, our monumental India Pale Ale honors the hero from The War of 1812 who battled the enemy on Lake Erie.

It was getting late, the beer was already cold, so I said to hell with the proper drinking vessel and grabbed a manly, heavy beer mug out of the cabinet. I tried to chill down the mug under the cold water tap, but by the time I poured the first beer, and considering the temp out in the Manly Garage, I knew it was pointless. I’d be drinking slightly warmer beer and the foam head will probably engulf the whole glass. Let us begin. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

The beer poured into the mug filling it with a golden amber color and a large, two-finger head of off-white. A nice population of medium sized bubbles rose according to principles of physics. The aroma was almost nonexistent.

The first sip was delightful. Sweet was the initial taste experienced, then came the malts and at the swallow, a double-whammy of crispness and grapefruit hoppiness. The grapefruit hops blended nicely with the malts and it really filled up the flavor spectrum.

Once again I’m amazed at the diversity of tastes in an IPA that one can get by tweaking the type and amount of hops living with a base malt. Those IPA’s that have that special grapefruit flavor is unique of itself, but I’ve finally learned to appreciate how well those hops blend in with the malts.

As the sips continued, the taste got even better. Warmed up by the semi-tropical environment out in the garage the beer’s flavors really came forward. The sweetness remained at the front and the malts were absolutely delicious in the middle. That grapefruit snap at the back really made this beer special.

So far, this is the highest hopped beer I’ve tried so far. The Great Lakes website gave me a .pdf with the overall synopsis of this beer and has Commodore Perry listed at 80 IBUs. Truly a high-hopped beer that’s really tickling my taste buds. But with the ABV listed at 7.5%, it is one beer that just might sneak up on ya.

Sip after sip contained the wonderful malty body covered in sweetness, but the grapefruit flavor seemed to diminish into the background and that bold bitterness came forward. Not very overbearing, but I’d say necessary to offset the sweetness and the bold malts.

Commodore Perry is the guy to ask over when you’re ready for some me time. It would be a great evening sipper or after-supper dessert. It’s also another one of those beers that the Bud/Miller/Coors drinkers would contort their faces at perhaps even send them packing for a toothbrush. Bold malts with a subtle sweetness and a great hop kick, Commodore Perry IPA is a beer that’s a real treat.

The SixPackTech ratings for Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA are:

Taste: A- > A myriad of deliciousness awaits your tongue.
Smoothness: B+ > A bit fruity, malty and nicely sweet.
Drinkability: B+ > Slow down the sippage because the flavors are unrelenting.
Bang for the buck: B+ > Twenty buck worth of taste in a nine dollar sixpack.
ABV: 7.5%
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Kinda orangey looking. A little citrus smell. (sip) Kinda … weird. (sip) It’s got a citrusy… dryness, but other than that I don’t get a whole lot from that. (sip) It’s citrus drying not bitter drying. Could be a helluva lot colder. (It’s the bitter summer drying things out.)

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Commodore Perry

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2 Responses to Blue Collar Brew Review –
Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA

  1. fretwalker says:

    Becoming quite the hophead these days, Frank!
    Perhaps you’ll revisit some of those IPAs and Pales you couldn’t stand just a couple years ago? Founders Centennial, for example springs to mind….

    Cheers!

  2. fcgrabo says:

    After having a few, I now have learned what to expect. Some of those highly hopped beers are actually pretty tasty.

    I plan to revisit Celebration Ale to finally put an end to my trepidations.

    More will come. Just not every week.

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