Blue Collar Brew Review – Great Lakes Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale

Great-Lakes-Brewing-Logo-2014I trudged into the Joliet beer store and wanted something different but not brand spanking new. Maybe something that I haven’t had in a while and wanted to try again. I wasn’t yet ready for a porter or stout and an IPA was out of the question. And don’t even think about pumpkin beers.

IMG_5661I traipsed up and down the aisle until I finally laid my eyes on a beer which I knew I had tried, but didn’t remember squat about. It was Great Lakes Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale. Perfect.

I couldn’t recall the style exactly but I seemed to remember sweet malts and the red color of the beer. The rest of the taste had faded into memory, into brain cells that perhaps were destroyed by the very thing I held in my hand.

The label looked different from I remembered. But then again, all of Great Lakes labels have changed reflecting perhaps a new era in beer culture. I recall having this beer a while back I didn’t remember how far back. A quick search on SPT showed my review from November of 2011. Yes, the beer choice would stand.

Research showed that both beer rating sites gave it high marks and I was reassured that the evening’s drinking session would be quite enjoyable. Between now and the last time I drank this beer, the only thing that could have changed was my own palate. But since I started enjoying craft beer and began brewing my own beer, I feel that I now have a keener sense of what some of the ingredients are and a better familiarity of hop profiles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 12.09.05 AMThe name Nosferatu comes from a very early film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922.

Nosferatu was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (for instance, “vampire” became “Nosferatu” and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok”). Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. However, a few prints of Nosferatu survived, and the film came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema.

There appears to be no connection between Nosferatu and Cleveland, Ohio as Great Lakes likes to do with most of their beers’ naming.

But enough of cinema, let’s pop a top and start pouring some beer.

IMG_5664The beer poured with a beautiful red color in the glass. Carbonation was beautiful with tons of micro-bubbles. The head came up about 2 inches and looked beige in the lamp light. The aroma had just a hint of hops.

The first sip was very tasty and had it had a medium mouthfeel. The recipe consisted of mostly malts with a tiny hop zap of hops at the swallow. The contrast of the malt body and the hoppy ending played well off each other. The slight bit of sweetness perceived at the beginning was overshadowed by the hop finish.

This was a nice rendition of the red malts versus the bitter hops. It tastes much like a hefty pale ale and a little like a red ale. Together, it was a nice rendition of the sweet and the bitter without going overboard on either.

The hops used in the Imperial Red recipe were Simcoe and Cascade which lend a bit of dankness to the overall taste. It’s an odd flavor at first with the sweet malts and the resiny hops vying for taste buds at the same time. The balance is close but was as if there was a fence built between the malt side and the hop side.

It was at this point I wish I had an Oskar Blues G’Knight or a Lagunitas Red to compare it to. But it’s been so long since I’ve tried these, I settled for what was in the glass beside me.

The term “imperial” in this case is a bit misleading. If it pertains to the ABV it’s would appear to be a bit shy at only 8%. If it’s for the hops, it’s not really a tonsil wrecker per se. It’s a little bit of both which may put it at the “imperial” threshold.


Nosferatu is a very drinkable beer. The hops don’t bully the palate around too much and the malt side is just pleasant enough. It’s a great beer for this time of year and a pleasant digression from the Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers that still populate the shelves.

Nosferatu is a seasonal release that comes out in September.

THE-GREAT-LAKES-BREWING-CO.-NOSFERATUThe SixPackTech summary for Great Lakes Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale:

Style: American Imperial Red Ale
Taste: The palate keeps bouncing between the hops and the sweet malts.
Smoothness: A bit of a hop bite but pleasurable.
Drinkability: If you like hops this beer will greatly please you.
Bang for the buck: On a par with others of the style.
Amount paid: $9.99 per four-pack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Maybe next September.
ABV: 8%
Brewer’s website
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It’s red. I always get citrusy, more orangey than graperfruit this time. Almost caramelly. But it’s bitter. But not godawful. (She actually said “godawful.”)

RateBeer rates.

Nosferatu 1922 trailer [1:13]



This entry was posted in beer, Brew Review, opinion. Bookmark the permalink.