Beer review : Brooklyn Local 2 Belgian style strong dark ale

Garrett Oliver is the man; the philosophy reflected in his book, The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food, speaks to my holistic sensibilities and makes my mouth water for fine brews and food prepared in the old school tradition — from scratch with fresh ingredients and no preservatives or other modern food science. But Garrett Oliver doesn’t just write rousing books; he also brews exceptional beer. Since becoming the brewmaster in 1994, he has propelled Brooklyn Brewery to high status among the top 40 breweries in the nation.

I love Brooklyn’s year-round lineup; the seasonal Oktoberfest Marzen is on par with the authenticity of Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest and the buttery, peppery Local 1 is the definition of Belgian strong light ale. The Brewmaster’s Reserves and Limited Releases — Black OPS, Blast Imperial IPA, Flemish Gold, Manchester Star, and Savoir Faire — are all crazy delicious. So are the innovative collaborations with Schneider Brewery — the Brooklyner- Schneider Hopfen-Weiss and the Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weiss.

A new addition to the Brooklyn lineup — Local 2 — is a dark ale crafted from German pilsner malt, English chocolate malt, Belgian dark sugar, New York state raw wildflower honey, citrus peel, Belgian yeast, and hopped with Perle, Aurora, and East Kent Golding hops. After brewing, a secondary fermentation takes place inside the corked, 25 ounce bottle.

When poured into a tulip glass, the body is Crayola brown with an enormous tower of tan head that laces in giant chunks very similar to a properly poured Duvel.

Aromas are sweet honey, citrus, roasted grain, alcohol, and milk chocolate.

I was expecting Local 2 to taste like a dark version of Brooklyn’s Local 1, but the basic flavors are totally different. There is no yeastiness or funkiness to this brew; the overall tone is malty and rich with almost no hop bitterness. Initial flavors are beefy and steaky like a good Belgian dubbel, yet there is a substantial sweetness in the finish that is very different from what I was anticipating based on the smells and opening flavors. Before it warms to room temperature, the brew doesn’t taste 9%, nor does it feel 9% in the mouth. The body has a just a touch of slickness, but the light mouthfeel prevents it from coming across syrupy. As it warms, the finish takes on a slightly medicinal bitterness, and the alcohol emerges as flavors of boozy brown sugar, plums, and other dark fruits.

I must say, Local 2 is not my favorite. There’s something about it that just doesn’t jive with the way I like my beer. Even though I find the sweet flavors somewhat undesirable, Local 2 has an A+ rating on BeerAdvocate and is ranked in the 96% percentile on RateBeer. So that means it’s not Brooklyn Brewery; it’s me. Solid proof that there’s a beer out there for everyone, but not every beer will appeal to everyone, even beer obsessed freaks like me — a poetic metaphor for life, indeed.

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