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Good Harbor Golden Ale - Leelanau Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Good Harbor Golden AleGood Harbor Golden Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

66 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 66
Hads: 118
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 9.88%
Wants: 39
Gots: 14 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Leelanau Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Bière de Garde |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ypsifly on 11-20-2006

This Golden Ale is Inspired by Franco-Belgain bière de gardes, but not exactly fitting the profile of its European counterparts, this beer is best described as a Michigan Bière de Garde. Hand-crafted by Ron Jeffries at his Jolly Pumpkin Brewery in Dexter, which is consistantly rated as one of one of the best in the world, all of the Leelanau Brewing Company beers are distingushed by their time spent in a large French oak barrique prior to bottling and re-fermentation. The wild yeasts inhabiting the brewery give all the beers made there a common thread, creating a family of beverages with rare harmony, despite their diverse styles.

Decidedly refreshing despite the 7.5% abv, this style of beer was originally brewed in the slow winter season as payment for farmhands in the summer. We certainly don’t mind sitting down after a long day of work and breathing deep the symphony aromas wafting from the lofty, lacey head burgeoning from our tulip glass. Subtle notes of peaches, apricots, canned pineapple, bitters, and a faint herbaceousness belie the smooth and delicate taste. The slightly malty, fruity body quickly transitions effortlessly to a crisp, dry and somewhat tart finish. Signature hints of French oak and the complex yeast character place this all-natural beer among the best saisons, stock ales, and farmhouse styles of Michigan, France & Belgium.
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Reviews: 66 | Hads: 118
Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber from Champagne Cellars. More of a wild ale than a bierede Garde as the spicyness was muted. The aourness fortunately was udner great control and accompanied food nicely. taste grew on me. Bottled in August of this year, it would be interesting to try after some cellaring. Good amount of head and a lace lines.

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Photo of metter98
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is hazy yellow in color. It poured with a short white head that died down, leaving lots of thick, wispy lacy lacing on the surface and a small collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of oak are present in the nose along with notes of vinegar.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has flavors of vinegar along with notes of oak and hints of fruits such as apples and some sourness.
M: It feels just about medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There is a slight amount of tartness. Sone dryness also becomes noticeable as the beer warms up.
O: This beer seems to be a little sour and tastes like a hybrid between a Bière de Garde and an American Wild Ale.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.66/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From the bottle at Meridian Pint. Pours a slightly-hazy light peach color. Nose is light funk, wheat, and heavy stone fruit. Reminiscent of fruity batches of Fantôme Saison. Fruity and tart with a bit of body. Really exceptional and super smooth for 7.5%. An amazing beer that I was absolutely stunned by.

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Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a cloudy pale golden color with a fluffy head that retains as a film and leaves some lace

Smell: Barnyard funk and oak, with vague hints of light fruit underneath

Taste: A bit of sweet apple and pear, followed by a tart lemon explosion that grows increasingly funky by mid-palate; after the swallow, the tartness overwhelms the fruit flavors; the finish is dry and woody, with lingering sourness

Mouthfeel: Medium body with buoyant carbonation

Drinkability: A little overboard on the sourness, but a very nice first effort

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Photo of emerge077
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy gold pour, bone white cap of foam. Some visible carbonation works it's way slowly upward. Spots of lace, a droopy ring eventually decorates the glass.

Farmhouse aromas of lactic tartness, wheat, and well water. Reminds me of a Berliner Weiss.

Flavors of tart lemon zest, apple, cheese, mild Brett, and light bready pale malt. Well carbonated and tart, with a rustic aftertaste that lingers. Definitely thirst quenching, it would make a great summertime pairing with cuisine from the grill.

Although at $12.49, it seemed a tad inflated for what it is. If this is really going for $20 at Bierkraft, i've got a bridge to sell you.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mellow yellow with multiple streams of sparkly carbonation that stop short of Champagne-like. The polished pearl crown doesn't match the best that Belgium has to offer, but it's no slouch either. It's massive immediately after the pour and becomes airily rocky as it begins to melt. Although I wasn't impressed with the lace display initially, the glass is slathered with hearty chunks of it in the end.

The nose is a wonderful example of the style as long as you like your bieres de garde to be awash in microbes. The only reason I haven't granted the next highest score is that the bugs tend to overpower the aroma, making it one-dimensional rather than complex. Golden fruity, pungently spicy horse blanket?

Good Harbor Golden Ale is almost, but not quite, great beer. My taste buds are very happy, but I can't help feeling that it needs more depth and more flavor facets to be truly special. One thing is certain, Ron Jeffries had a hand in the recipe as well as in the actual brewing.

The Brettanomyces shows admirable restrain on the palate, which permits the other members of the flavor profile to strut their stuff relatively unimpeded. Each sip delivers flavors of tart apple, lemon zest, sweetgrass, a hint of oak and tamed white pepper. Sweet, bitter, tangy and funky work very well together. Consider the flavor score bumped.

The body/mouthfeel gets it done as well. It's appropriately light and appropriately bubbled, but there isn't the creamy voluminousness that I need in order to compare it with the world's best. No alcohol is appreciated. None whatsoever.

Good Harbor Golden Ale is a wonderful creation that can hold its head high in the company of all but the very best Belgian and French bieres de garde. It's tailor-made to be enjoyed on a bright summer day, under a shade tree, with a ploughman's lunch and someone special. Someone who also appreciates good beer.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into a pint glass and shared with some fellow BAs. Big thanks to my trading buddy joe1510 for the hook up with this.

Pours a hazy pale gold with a 1/2 finger of brite-white head. Nice foamy retention that doesn't shrink much, leaving back some rich swathes of lacing that just COATS the sides of the glass. The aroma is strong with the tart scent of woody oaky tannins and sour green apples. Floral, grassy hops, and sweet wheat notes mix in, as well some additional funky character.

The taste is quite similar to the aroma, with acidic tartness (but not overpowering so) coming courtesty of citric fruits and maybe some Brett-like funkiness. An undercurrent of spicy hops and bready malts glide underneath, as does some slippery feeling oaky character. The mouthfeel is lighter bodied with a generally easy feeling lower carbonated feel to it that carries the flavors well. I'd also be remiss, if I didn't mention that this drank very nicely for an almost 8% beer.

This was the first that I had heard of this beer or the brewer and was most surprised. A Golden Ale jazzed up with some yeasties and oak-aging, this kept the funky feel to a tasty but not overdone minimun and stayed relatively quaffable. Thanks again for the chance at this Joe!

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Photo of Rifugium
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle at some bar (I forget and my notes don't specify)

Poured from the bottle into a goblet, a cloudy, golden yellow with a fluffy white head that receded to a wispy layer; minimal lacing. Aroma of earth and barnyard funk, notes of grains and light fruits. Taste follows the aroma, with flavors of grass and funk, woody, grainy, light fruits and distant peppery spice. Light-medium mouthfeel, a little stale in the aftertaste, but nothing offensive. Nice overall.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a foggy straw with a thin off white head. Nose is a good level of funky that carries an almost lambic kind of nose at first. Slight fruit tone. Dies off to a more earthy and subdued woody character. Flavor brings a severe complexity. The first thing I think is cheese (most specifically brie). Why bother picking up half a pound at the Bedford Cheese Shop when you can get it here. Actually. It just makes me want to take a bite out of some hunk of cheesy goodness. Great thinner mild fruit tones. Body is very nice. Smooth carbonation on a consistent liquid body. Extremely drinkable. I don't usually like this style, but this is good. Definitely unique. The most memorable beer I have had in quite some time.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Appears a bright clouded golden hue with a large white head, forms nice even but rather scant clad lacing. This is from the first bottling, same sticker as noted on the website. Green bottles why?

Aromatics offer up tart acidity almost vinegar like notes I think the green bottle created a mild off note but it doesn't overwhelm and it definitely doesn't smell like a skunked Euro pils. Oak barrel effects weigh in with some earthy wood notes. Some pineapple and tropical notes are aroused as it warms.

Flavor is full of sharp acidity and it feels like time did not create complexity in this brew but a one dimensional oaked sour beer. I like the puckering sour nature but I wouldn't mind some other balancing flavors. Oak barrel in the finish among bitter and dry spices. A pretty harsh brew nothing like aged Ora de Calabaza that I've had. I'm thinking this bottle must have been exposed to light to create an unbalanced lactic yogurt or cider acidity.

Mouthfeel is dry to the bone, carbonation of course is dead on effervescent and bubbly for the style. The acidity and dryness from the oak along with the spice additions outweigh the malt and hop bill.

Drinkability is pretty pour a complex sour and wild ale I enjoy, but this one is tasting acrid and overdone with the acidity and oak barrel notes. Creating an experience that I would not like to relive anytime soon, I love all of the beers from Jolly Pumpkin and Ron Jefferies however this one did miss the mark for me. I still blame the green bottles.

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Photo of superspak
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 4/29/2011. Fast gusher upon opening as expected, but didn’t lose any. Pours very cloudy golden straw color with a 2 finger dense and fluffy bright white head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with plenty of carbonation streaming off the sediment. Aromas of huge tart lemon, peach, sour apple, pear, apricot, pineapple, pepper, clove, oak, hay, straw, funk, and earthy spiciness. Incredible aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity, spicy, and funk notes. Taste of big peach, tart lemon, sour apple, pineapple, pear, apricot, clove, pepper, hay, straw, oak, funk, light leather, and earthy spiciness. Moderate tart acidity on the finish; with lingering notes of tart lemon, peach, pear, sour apple, pineapple, apricot, clove, pepper, hay, straw, oak, light leather, and earthy spiciness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity and balance of tart fruity, spicy, and funk flavors; with nearly zero cloying flavors present after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium bodied; with a crisp, acidic, and lightly prickly mouthfeel that is very nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an absolutely incredible barrel aged wild golden ale. Huge complexity and balance of tart fruity, spicy, and funk notes; and very smooth to sip on. A highly fantastic offering. As the carbonation died out because of the gusher, it became slightly harder to drink; but with full carbonation this was absolutely insane.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A softer pour produces an almost three-finger thick, pale, off-white colored head. The beer is a light honey / gold color that shows a hazy, straw-gold color when held up to the light. The head leaves a layered lacing pattern on the sides of my glass as I work my way through this beer. The aroma has a bright, grassy grain character to it, a certain soft mustiness and even a hint of something like barnyard funk (though only the beginning stages of this last). Fruit aromatics of pear and tart, slightly under-ripe plum also play a significant role as does some floral and herbal aromatics that add a nice edge to the nose. This has quite a complex nose to it that makes this quite interesting and quite enjoyable to smell.

Still well carbonated, despite losing a quarter of its contents en route to me (which really means it must have started out excessively carbonated). The carbonation provides a nice textural component as well as accenting a peppery note that adds to the overall spiciness of this brew. This is quite spicy too with fermentation derived notes of ginger, white pepper and higher alcohols which all combine to give this brew a sort of piquancy. This has a nice, light tartness to it, but not much in the way of sweetness; the tartness accentuates fruit flavors of pear, melon and a certain character that makes me thing of some floral honey varietal. The higher alcohols provide a touch of heat to the finish at times, almost a bit like a spicy ginger or horse-radish would. This is highly quaffable and in fact drinks lighter than your typical 7.5% abv beer would.

This is a very enjoyable brew, I wouldn't really characterize it as a Bier de Garde, but many of Jolly Pumpkin's style designations are by inspiration only anyway. Still this is quite a tasty brew, one which I am happily quaffing. This doesn't seem to have anything beyond a normal Belgian yeast strain funkiness to it (despite the notes in the nose), though it is certainly a characterful strain at the very least.

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Photo of BillRoth
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Had at Spuyten Duyvill in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Sitting outside in courtyard. Poured in tall stem white wine glasses at perfect temperature. Short lived but attractive head. Soft golden color really caught the courtyard lights nicely. Aromatics were full and pushed the wild yeast and barrel. Taste likewise with soft but rich tartness. Very nicely done. Wonderfully smooth with gentle carbonation but still plenty to brighten the taste. Overall a very nice if not overly complicated beer. Would enjoy drinking this again, and is perfect for a summer evening like this one.

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Photo of HopHead84
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Another bottle generously opened by Javier(javib458), thanks man. The beer is yellow gold with a one inch white cap that quickly dissipates and leaves a little lacing in its wake.

The nose is of earthy hops, prominent oak, a little wet leather with a light sweetness and a subtle citrus. The taste exhibits a light tartness and a subtle sweetness that dries out with the arrival of oak midpalate. Wet leather Brett is noticeable and lemon makes up the bulk of the fruit attribute. There's a touch of acidity in the end.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big ole 750 Ditmier brought over the other night... I am pretty sure this was the first casualty of the evening... Poured into my small La Trappe goblet... Thanks Eric for a "new to me" brewery.

Pour is a pale straw gold .. pretty hazy with a nice foamy head.

Nose is pretty oaky.. a bit vinous.. pale malts with a more than a bit of brett combined with some unexpected fruitiness.. white grapes and some underripe pears.. brett provides an abundant grassy/sorta musty element.

Flavor is again... pretty winey.. more oak than I would normally want lends a drying characteristic with all the brett funk.. a bit of sour grape and some citrus zest that seems out of place for the style... the oak comes back in with a sorta mineral note... light body and fantastic carbonation...

This is a better brew than my feeble review can come across... but this is interesting and I am damn glad I have a good guy across town who lets me try... Thanks Eric.

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Photo of aasher
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is courtesy of mystikyle, thanks Kyle!

It pours a light bodied very cloudy, almost Belgian wit gold in color with a soapy one finger head. The nose is phenomenal. It is slightly tart with a white orchard fruit type subtle sweetness. There is just a soft touch of butter. The flavors are both sweet and tart. It has some pear and white apple characteristics and finishes with a good amount of brett. It's just a really well balanced sour. It drinks a about medium in body with adequate carbonation. Overall this is a really nice and easy drinking sour. I love the fruit characteristics with the right amount of tartness. This is a really nice beer.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.08/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours clear, golden, sunshine amber with just a light, three-quarters ring of foam. Some faint lacing and pretty good bubbling. The aroma has a note of malt vinegar with some very tart bananas. The taste is a toasty champagne with some aged orange peel and granny smith apples. Pretty tart palate with some mixed tart fruits. Almost malt vinegary.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.97/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle picked up at Champagnes in Warren a few months ago, <$16. When opened it started a slow but persistent gush. On pouring it has a very pale yellow color, looking a lot like Hoegaarden (the only wit-like attribute thankfully). The nose is slightly funky and bretty, not exactly sour but more early level funk like you get out of some saisons. Plenty of tart fruit character (apples/pears) too.

I get a saison-like flavor more than biere de garde. Funky brett and light spice (not sure if actual spices were used, but it has a light pepper quality), with a nearly medicinal component I could do without. Luckily that last flavor is very minor.

Good carbonation, controllable gushing, nice funkiness, I liked this beer quite a bit. Another great one from Jeffries.

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Photo of maximum12
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%

Thanks to fiver29 for this extra, a celebratory bottle after a very long work trip (which was also filled with good beer, of course). 750ML bottle from a brewery I’ve never heard of split with my wife.

Pour is an unfiltered yellow with a low-T level of carbonation. Not much coming off the surface, vague light fruits. Uninspiring.

Good Harbor Golden Ale brings just the right amount of toe-tapping funk. There’s a lovely must - as opposed to the usual boggy, marshy, squelching ground mustiness – that greets the palate. Green apple & lemon are folded in after the swamp gas, light vinegar, & the oak is a subtle refinement on the tongue. The barrel gives it a distinct vinous quality & makes me want to stomp some grapes.

Not a style I usually enjoy, & I’m enjoying it even more due to that fact. A very good beer.

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Photo of alexgash
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Gushing out of the bottle lemon yellow with a mild haze. Tall, rocky, pillowy, glass-lacquering powder white head. The head eventually settles down and it leaves behind aromas of tart citrus (grapefruit, lemon juice), sour fruit candy, hay, musty wooden barn door, and faint powdered sugar.

Tart, acidic fruits up front. Hay and faint tropical fruit sweetness follow with a near-biscuity malt backbone. Citrus sorbet explodes into the tartish, dry, bitterish, refreshing finish. Medium body with a soft, smooth feel underneath rolling, bottle-conditioned carbonation. Very drinkable and damn good! I'm excited for this brewery and wish them luck on their forthcoming facility. In the meantime, you can't go wrong with having Ron at JP helping out!

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 10/25/2009. Bottle. Pours a cloudy golden yellow with a small white head. Aroma of funky barnyard, sour candies. Flavor is tart/sour/funky in the initial sips with sweet sour candies in the finish. Some dry, lemony hops as well. Quite tart and acidic. Biere de Garde? This was a sour ale all the way...

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Photo of jrenihan
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Batch 1of 2013 (Jan 5, 2013)

Beer is hazy golden with a moderately-sized white head. Head fades steadily, leaving some lace.

The strongest scent in the nose for me is herbal or spicy- I can't quite place it. Coriander? Along with that is oak, lots of light fruit scents and some yeast.

Taste is quite tart, moreso than I was expecting, particularly from the nose. Oak, light fruits (apple, lemon) and a herbal flavour. The finish has a bit of a dry, powdery flavour. Some earthy brett flavours. Good.

Medium bodied, moderately carbonated, quite puckery. Refreshing.

Overall, very good. I was expecting a mild sourness, but it is actually quite potent. It works well.

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Photo of ffejherb
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Via 750ml bottle, courtesy of Kegatron.

A - Poured a cloudy pale golden body with a short, bubbly white cap that receded to a thin veil and left decent lace around the rim of the glass.

S - Slightly sour nose with woody/oaky notes and plenty of funk. Some bittersweet citrus notes also emerged as well as a definite sour apple presence.

T - Like the aroma, the flavor suggests sour apple and citrus fruit with some oakiness and acidity. While some malt sweetness is present, it is overpowered by the tart sourness.

M - Light to medium bodied with a syrupy texture and lively carbonation that bolsters the tart character of this brew. Finish is a bit astringent and quite tart and sour on the palate, providing some definite pucker.

D - I found this to be a very good golden ale with a pleasant sour character, courtesy of the oak aging. This was my first experience with this brewery, and overall I was impressed.

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Photo of Deuane
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Kegatron for sharing a bottle of this one.

A-Hazy light golden with a thin white head that reduced to a thin veil and left decent lace.

S-Mild sour notes with dry oak notes and some brett characteristics. Light sour apple and citrus in the finish.

T-Strong sour green apple and tart citrus with dry oak.

M-Light bodied with a puckering tartness and a VERY dry champagne like finish.

D-Tart and dry with a pleasant, not overpowering, sourness. This is a very nicely done brew with champagne qualities. I would gladly seek this out again.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a - first pour from the 750ml bottle was a very clear bright amber, subsequent pours were very hazy with a good deal of sediment, medium white head with decent retention and lots of lacing, many bubbles continually rising to top

s - very fruity, lots of granny smith apple and pear, nice sour smell, a little woody, reminiscent of a flanders red but not quite as funky, no hint of alcohol

t - very sweet and fruity up front, nice granny smith/pear taste as the aroma suggests, quite sour and tart in the body, somewhat earthy, no hint of alcohol, finish is sweet and quite dry

m - fairly light-bodied, lots of carbonation, very dry finish

d - the super sweetness and dry finish might limit the drinkability slightly, but I could sip this all night

I didn't know what to expect from this brew as it was my first biere de garde and this is only its second review, but I was really impressed. I can't imagine a much better example of the style. Amazing beer, especially for such a small brewery I'd never heard of before. Definitely worth seeking out this Leelanau offering.

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Good Harbor Golden Ale from Leelanau Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 66 ratings.