Blue Collar Brew Review – Lagunitas Lucky 13

Lucky 13 diceOn Thursday I once again visited Cardinal in Joliet and picked up a few selections for the days ahead and Saturday’s review along with others for the two sons who still work in town and love craft beer. A bottle of mead was on the list and Cardinal had several varieties on one of their shelves mixed in with all the wines that I know diddly-squat about. I do have a general knowledge of mead and tried a few. Now both sons are homebrewing their own mead so it’s a thing among Dad and lads.

The beer I had selected for tonight’s review was from a brewery in New Holland, Michigan who shall remain nameless (pfft!) I placed two bombers of their beer, a black saison, into the fridge and did some quick, before-hand research. The two usual beer review sites fairly panned the beer with one overall rating being just “Okay” while the other had ratings numbers were in the dirt.

I thought about this the rest of the time. I could write about this beer and generally agree with the consensus and commiserate with other reviewers about where the beer had dropped the ball, but I really wasn’t looking forward to it at all.

I decided to save that beer and bring them to the homebrew club meeting next month to pass around and sample. Someone in that small crowd may like all the black anise licorice that the beer was reviewed as having too much of. Hell, one guy raved about Ghost Face Killah when it brought it a while back.

Finally, at the eleventh hour, I dashed over to Four Seasons and did a slow scan of their bomber section. If I got a couple of warm bombers of decent craft beer I’d do the old quick-chill in the freezer method that had paid off for me so many times.

Lucky bomberJust past the Dogfish Head section and before the Sam Adams section was a small plot of real estate dedicated to Lagunitas. There was a beer looking at me that I hadn’t seen before. It was Lagunitas Lucky 13, a beer that they described on the label as A Mondo Large Red Ale. I could do that.

Bettie PageStaring back at me was cartoony rendering of a brunette holding a glass of beer, a tad reminiscent of what Bettie Page would look like in pen and ink. A red ale with a bit over 8% alcohol, I decided then and there that I’d try this beer before I tried that other one. The price made me smile.

The brewer’s website described the beer:

We made the Lucky 13 in 2006 for our 13th Anniversary Celebrations, but we liked that Mondo Large Red Ale so much we kept bringing it back year after year. In 2010 we switched up the recipe by swapping the more heavily roasted malts with lighter ones — lightening it up and making it more fitting for the summer months…we also changed her hair color. Who do you like better….Betty or Veronica?


The mystery behind the two labels in Google image search is solved. But wait? Which Betty (Bettie) are they talking about?

BA calls this beer an American Amber/Red Ale while RB states that it’s an American Strong Ale. In this case they both may be right and wrong. There’s no BJCP class for American Strong Ale, and American Ambers top out at 6.2% alcohol. I bring up these facts to point out to a few individuals that I just may just know a little bit about what I’m talking about. But really, to me the taste is the treat.

Let’s jump into some Mondo Red beer.

Lucky foamAs I poured the cold beer into the warm glass, the foam head roared up to beat the blazes. I had to wait for about 3 inches of yellowish-white foam to go down before attempting a sip. (One drawback to the Randy Mosher pour.) Meanwhile, the liquid was crystal clear with a beautiful red-orange tint. The carbonation was made of millions of micro-bubbles slowly surfacing. The aroma was a bit of sweet malt with a slight hint of hoppiness.

The first sip was delicious. It had a medium mouthfeel and a nice sweet malty taste without going into the brown ale territory. The beer was sweet from start to finish but not overly so. There was a twang at the swallow but I couldn’t determine if it was from the tart malts, a slug of hops or the carbonation. Maybe later it’ll come forward as time goes on.

A few sips on in, the taste took on a wee bit of fruitiness. Still the nice sweetness from front to back with a great malty backbone. Whatever bitterness that was at the end was the perfect ingredient that made this beer taste unique. I was wondering how close to a barley wine this beer was.

Clocking in at 8.65% alcohol, the beer is a prime contender for a relatively short session where the palate never tires of the visitor. The alcohol will remind you when it gets late. The taste and body spotlight the rich malty flavor and let’s you know that the beer was designed for sippin’. A nice thing about Lagunitas is that not only do they print the ABV on the label, but also the beer’s original gravity (1.085 in this case) and the IBUs (76.92.) The only thing lacking on the label was the bottled-on date. Missed it by that much.

Lucky glass

I’d call this beer nicely balanced but it seemed to favor the firecracker at the swallow rather than an overall malt taste. The beer tastes well made and well thought out. One more feather in Lagunitas’ cap is that for such a great tasting beer, the price won’t drain your wallet. It’s down in the Hop Stoopid area.

The reason why I haven’t tried this beer earlier was because I never saw it on any shelves. Whether that was a fault of my own eyeballing abilities or because it just now made it to the area. Perhaps Lucky 13 will make it on my list of go-to beers now that the new Lagunitas brewery near Chicago is nearing the end of construction.

If you’ve been seemingly living under a rock like I have and have never tasted Lucky 13, You gotta buy a couple of bombers. Buy it first for the big (Mondo) malty taste of this beer. Buy it second for the the good state of mind it will put you in when you’re finished. Buy it third because you can’t beat the price.

Lagunitas Lucky 13 brunetteLagunitas Lucky 13 blondeThe SixPackTech summary for Lagunitas Lucky 13:

Style: American Amber/Red Ale – American Strong Ale
Taste: Delicious, with enough to keep your mouth interested for hours.
Smoothness: Easy going until the manila rope at the end.
Drinkability: One leads to many. But not too many.
Bang for the buck: Outstanding!
ABV: 8.65%
Paid price: $6.49 / 22-ounce bottle
Get it again? Absolutely yes.
Brewer’s website
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Not red, more like a copper. (sniff) They all smell citrusy. (sip) I don’t know. (sip) At first you get bitter then it goes away. (sip) Not a lot of flavor, all I get is that bitter dry. (Her taste buds are from a different universe. Gotta be.)

DunlopTV visits Lagunitas [7:28]



13 ball

13 ball

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