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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Burning River Pale AleGreat Lakes Burning River Pale Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,013 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,013
Hads: 3,063
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 19.3%
Wants: 135
Gots: 493 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-06-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,013 | Hads: 3,063
Photo of Ohiolager
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Burning River 6pk bottles $8.99(OH)

12 oz brown bottle poured into a pint glass. freshest taste date clearly marked.

pours a beautiful pale amber color. makes an amazing three finger thick head, peach white in color. it stays around for awhile. giving way to amazing lacing. like spider webs clinging inside my glass. it smells almost like an IPA. citrus, a cascade of hops, fruit smells like grapefruit, and subtle hints of pine. ( is this an APA an EPA or an IPA?)

the taste is like the smell but much more amazing. i taste a cascade of hops, followed by fruits like grapefruit, and it finishes dry and piney like an IPA. and a little bitter but not too much and it fits the finish. This is not an IPA, it is and american pale ale. that leans more towards the english side. and i like it.

the mouth feel is medium to heavy body. less heavy more medium. feels nice and crisp. refreshing and a tad bit bitter and dry at finish.

overall i love this beer. i have had this brew probably more than any other craft brew. it was the 2nd craft brew i ever drank. gold medal winner for a reason. great american pale ale that leans more towards the english side in my opinion. add some more hops and abv and you got an IPA. solid brew.

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Photo of Grugalug
3.1/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass.

A- Pours a pale golden and slightly copper color. A nice and fluffy two finger head that dissipates somewhat quickly. Lots of lacing and bubbles are visibly rising to the surface. Looks really appetizing.

S- Citrus is most present, and is largely grapefruit. Some floral notes are evident as well. Somewhat surprisingly, there is actually a noticeable malt presence as well. Just a very slight pine and resin smell. Good but not as aromatic as I was expecting.

T- Not much citrus here as the the more piney characteristics take over. The malt is also still present but is very subtle. A nice amount of strong hop presence, but certainly not overtly bitter. Again it's decent but I'm underwhelmed.

M- Incredibly drinkable. I found the body to be rather thin, but it was largely because of the surprising lack of carbonation. It was definitely carbonated, but almost seemed flat. This might be an opinion-based thing but not my cup of tea (or beer I suppose).

O- I had high expectations going in. Also, it seems to be a really beloved beer, and I seriously doubt that this many people are wrong. I just chalk it up to a difference in opinion. Personally, just not my thing. I recommend this based solely on how much love it gets from most people. However, I probably won't be picking this up again.

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Photo of scotorum
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Drank a sixpack of this over two days. Unfortunately I did not get the bottling date but I doubt if it had much age on it.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a plastic cup, only vessel available.

a: Clear copper with a finger tall white head which receded slowly to even surface foam and patchy lacing.

s: Mild pine.

t: Sharp pine hops forward over what seemed like a rather muted malt base. Bitterness did not linger much.

m: Medium.

o: A hop-dominated American style pale ale. Tasty enough apparently thanks mostly to the hops. Not as balanced as I would have liked.

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Photo of delta490
3.89/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A- poured a clear amber with about one finger of creamy white head. Minimal retention but it clings to the circumference and leaves nice lacing

S- pretty malty (caramel, bread) with some light hints of hops

T- mild caramel malt flavor with some also mild hops flavors. It seemed underwhelming at first but got more robust as the beer warmed.

M- nice thickness on the palate

O- a very good Pale Ale, leaning more towards the English style.

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Photo of tmm313
4.8/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Almost perfect amber color. Crystal clear. Only poured about a 1/2 finger of head with aggressive pour, but had awesome lacing and trailing.

S- Huge citrus up front. Orange and grapefruit with fresh hop, caramel, subtle floral, tropical fruit and pine rounding it out. Smells amazing.

T- Absolutely delicious. Sweet orange and grapefruit up front, followed by big caramel, pine, slight earthy spice, and some nice bready notes. Subtle pine and orange rind on the finish. Not super complex, but the big flavors are blended almost perfectly. Wonderful, wonderful balance. I could drink this every day.

M- I was enjoying the flavor so much, I almost missed judging the mouthfeel. Medium light body. Creamy and slick on the tongue. Slightly drying with a nice aftertaste.

O- I hereby declare this the greatest Pale Ale on the planet! It was one of those "there you are, I've been looking for you" moments we're all striving for. THE most perfect session beer I have ever found!

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Photo of ischoz
3.74/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Great pale ale. It has some bite to it. This a good beer to start your journey into craft beer. If you are looking for the bridge from the big three, give this a try. Its not too aggressive and it tastes clean and smooth. Another great offering from Great lakes.

This is the beer that pulled me away from not only the big brands, but also the lower end craft beers. I have not had it for a few months, I've moved onto IPAs but I'm sure I will visit this again in the future.


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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Perfectly clear burnt orange, soapy off-white head that has lasting lacing. Not much carbonation to my surprise.

S: Good hop aromas, mostly pine resin with some undertones of citrus. Hop forward, but not overwhelming.

T: Not a hop bomb, which I appreciate. Bitter, but not lasting, with good balance of pine and citrus. Good amount of malts to balance.

M: Crisp and refreshing, fluid, medium body. Just peachy.

O: Like I previously stated, not a hop-bomb, to my preference. Flavorful, enjoyable, but I'm still looking for a pale ale that will knock my socks off.

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Photo of steveh
3.89/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Another beer in payment for services rendered. I drank this pretty often back when it first came out -- even enjoyed it at the GL pub in Cleveland, surprised I've never reviewed it. Haven't had it in some time, but it's just in time for a hop-fix.

IIRC, this was one of the first beers that was really an IPA disguised as an APA.

Best before 03/12/14 on the label.

A -- Clear, deep amber-gold with a firm, long-lasting, off white head.

S -- Mellow piny notes up front with biscuit malts back and some earthiness and mild fruit esters mixed in. I sort of wish there were bigger fruit esters in the nose, but this still fits the style bill.

T -- Good blend of piny, spicy hops and biscuit malts with the same underlying earthiness, but the hops win the balance battle in the finish and aftertaste -- resiny bitterness lingering with spiciness through the aftertaste.

M -- Mouthfeel is soft and smooth with a dry finish and medium body.

O -- There's a mild lingering vegetal character in this beer that I often get in many GL beers -- I've been led to understand that it's the house yeast character. It blends well with the mix of flavors in an APA like this, and why I'll give more points to the Burning River than any of GL's lagers.

OTOH, this beer takes me back in time to those first days of micro-brewing when no one was trying to out-do each other for palate-burning hop craziness. However, a couple in a row builds up the resin-burn a little more than I like and becomes palate-fatiguing. This beer hides its ABV and quenches a hop-craving quite well.

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Photo of stakem
3.37/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into pint. The brew appears a clear copper color with a slight off-white cap. Some stringy lace sticks to the wall of the glass.

The aromas is strikingly similar to a strong tea than beer.Ffaintly herbal and a little mineral filled. Some slight fruity alcohol emits as it is swirled.

The flavor is also tea-like and astringent like strong tea with a bitterness that creeps in slightly herbal. A bready grain backing is also present to contrast.

This is a light bodied brew with a moderate amount of carbonation. It is an ok offering but I really dont think I would revisit this.

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Photo of dar482
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer comes in a dark reddish clear amber color with a fluffy white head.

The aroma has a brown toasted breadiness, some nuttiness, and a bit of orange peel citrus.

The flavor follows with that toasted bread and with tons nuttiness. The finish is pretty dry, some hops showing through of grass and earthiness. A clean lager finish.

A well made beer with that beautiful toasty malt.

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Photo of NeedBeerHere
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours out a nice amber in color with a half finger white head with retention of about 15 seconds. Smell is quite malt forward with caramel and a slight bit of hops in the nose but it is very slight. Taste is also pretty malt forward with not much hops at first but they come through as it goes down the throat. This as actually a pretty well balanced APA as far as taste. Mouthfeel is thicker than I would have expected with nice carbonation. Overall I'm pretty surprised that I liked this beer so much. It really is very balanced.

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Photo of JJKBeerLvr
3.72/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Bright amber, with nice thick and light colored head. The head lasted a very long time, and left a nice coating on the inside of the glass.

Smell: Pleasant, with a nice hops bitterness in the aroma. There is some sweet and citrus aromas, but the hops dominate.

Taste: A nice mix of hops and citrus flavors, that make for an interesting and complex Pale Ale. There is a nice after-taste, that lasts for a while but not too long.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and crisp, with a medium body.

Overall: This is an interesting and complex Pale Ale.

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Photo of DeFaz
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer has been around a long time, but it's reputation has changed a bit as folks have expected more and more hoppiness in their beers and as folks are drinking more IPAs. The beer hasn't changed, but it may not across as hoppy as it once did. For me though, I appreciate the biscuit flavor from the malt and how the malt and hops are both bold. This is an incredibly balanced APA.

The beer has a great color--very nice clarity--and the lacing and head retention are above average. The beer finishes fairly dry, but the thickness is spot on and the carbonation is just right. The beer is easily drinkable.

I'd put this one right next to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as the two classic APAs that still shine but that unfortunately seem to be forgotten more and more.

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Photo of MNishCT77
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle purchased at Whole Foods on P St., NW D.C., unknown bottling date best buy date of 2/1/14l, poured into a DFH quasi-chalice, drank several on 12/4/13 over a few hours while homebrewing.

A: 3/3 - ambe-brown coloration, impressive clarity (likely filtered but can both see and read through), initial soapy white head dissipates into 1/2 finger glass lacing, moderate alcohol legs --> close to perfect appearing APA, methinks

S: 8/12 - muted citrus and grapefruit notes from Cascade shine through; as the beer warms, the malt character really comes across for me (C60-ish) with some warm biscuit qualities (Marris Otter as base malt?)

T: 14/20 - on the anterior tongue, there is a mild bitterness that quickly gives way, in the middle of the mouth, to some grassy and earthy qualities start to emerge; as the flavors develop in the mouth, the malt character shines through and is accentuated - toasted barley and muted figs; little-to-no alcohol presence; aftertaste is a pleasant maltiness that sits on the tongue for only a few seconds

M: 3/5 - moderate body with little-to-no hop resins, the alcohol is present; don't taste much alcohol; adequate carbonation --> overall high drinkability

O: 8/10 - have historically not been a fan of Cascade due to its bleachy and excessively grassy qualities when used in excess, especially as a component of dry hopping; this beer, however, uses Cascade for balancing, but, for me, it's the malt balance that really shines through; a very good APA but, to be honest, has been pushed aside by some of the aromatic pale ales with novel hops being made by lots of other American breweries

TOTAL = 38/50

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Photo of kojevergas
3.21/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with fun label art and branded silver pry-off pressure cap acquired at Zipp's Liquor in Minneapolis, MN for $1.79 and served into a weissbier glass. Expectations are high given the brewery. Reviewed live. "A handcrafted pale ale." 6.0% ABV confirmed. Enjoy by: 11/13/13. Reviewed as a pale

Served cold - straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a four finger wide head of white colour and nice even consistency. Decent thickness, creaminess and frothiness. Retention is good - about 5-6 minutes. Even lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a clear translucent copper of average vibrance. No yeast particles are visible.

Overall, it's an appealing appearance and I'm eager to try it, but it's not unique or special. No egregious flaws.

Sm: Clean. Floral hops. Pale malts. Vague fruity hop character.

No yeast character or alcohol is detectable. A pleasant aroma of average strength.

T: Pale malt backbone is joined by a floral hop profile with hints of fruity hops.

Cohesive and enjoyable, but not gestalt, complex, subtle, or intricate.
Clean, without any real yeast character. No alcohol comes through.

Average depth, intensity, and duration of flavour.

Mf: Smooth, wet, well-carbonated, nicely thick, and medium-bodied. Suits the flavour profile well. Nice unobtrusive presence on the palate.

Not oily, astringent, harsh, gushed, hot, or boozy.

Dr: Drinkable, but I hoped for better from Great Lakes. It's a quaffable pale ale but offers nothing memorable. Will get lost amist the plethora of superior beers in the style. I might get it again if I'm in the mood for a pale ale, but I wouldn't recommend it to friends. Certainly not world-class, but well above average.

High C+

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Photo of granger
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Burning River is a pale ale that has a one finger head with average carbonation following the pour. It has a bronze color, slightly deeper than the Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold. This beer has a strong citrus and hoppy smell that is consistent with the taste. As you taste, the crisp bitterness of the hops will stick around. Recommended to anyone who enjoys pale ales.

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Photo of Givemebeer
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a snifter... Realized the best by date was Oct 8... Oops

A: Amber and clear nice head and lacing

S: citrus tropical scent with some sweet malt aroma

T: follows the nose, deliciously tropical very well balanced by the malt

M: light-medium bodied

O: definitely my favorite APA. A must try for the style

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Photo of MacQ32
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - pours a light golden color with about a finger of offshore head. On retention, solid lacing.

S - Tons of great light fruity hips, apple, mango, grapefruit, orange. Mild bitterness and a wee bit of caramel sweetness.

T - Those light citrus flavors come through initially followed by a very mild hop bitterness. Finish and aftertaste is all sweet fruits. Great refreshing flavor

M - lighter bodied with prefect carbonation, ideal for the style.

O - good light citrus flavor, very drinkable. Nothing over the top but certainly enjoyable

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Photo of Slatetank
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I picked this up at Wegmans, enjoyed chilled from a pint glass.

The color is dark copper with off white head which leaves confetti lace and has great clarity with visible carbonation. Retention is good and bead is very fine. The smell is very fragrant of hops with a mild pine accent and very gentle fruity yeast scent. The feel is good with moderate bitterness and carbonation level with mild sweetness and light alcohol tinge with a mostly dry finish.

The flavor is a very good mix of malts with more of a German toasted perhaps vienna flavor with mild herbal and pine hop flavors following with some mild orange rind accents. The flavor of malt is pretty well balanced with the hops with a generally clean yeast taste very nice dry finish with no alcohol in the taste to speak of. Overall this is a different take on the pale style, with more german type munich toastiness and more herbal/noble type flavor than straight citrus, but it is very drinkable and well worth repeat tastes

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Photo of EBeckett3
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - coppery, medium head, decent laces
S- slight citrus, grass
T- balanced, floral, hoppy with medium bitterness, crisp
M- medium body, slight malt soothed the bitter but retained the crisp end
O- very, very good - wasn't long till I opened another one

Served in a 16 oz pint glass

Serving type: bottle poured into glass

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

We crack the top, pouring a deep golden straw colored brew into our Great Lakes pints. It holds a one and a half finger head of creamy, variable khaki colored bubbles, showing nice retention. This leaves wet, sheeted lacing dripping down our glasses. There is a chill, fading haze, but no sediment is noted. Carbonation appears to be active and diffuse. The aroma gives bright and bittering plastic phenols, rubber cement, wet cement, caramel and pale malt base, citric and grassy hops, green gourd skins, herbal leafiness, eucalyptus plantiness, yeasty metallics, sweet yellow corn, and fruitiness of pear, nectarine, and lemon flesh. Our first impression is that the flavoring is perversely ridden with plastics, but does allow enough room for bitterly grassy hops and sweet caramel malt base to shine through. As we sip, the taste opens with candy corn sweetness, pale, dried barley, straw, fructose syrups, wheat table crackers, bench lacquer, plastic phenols, bitter grassy hoppiness, and cloying cinnamon roll icing sweetness. The middle peaks with birdseed, alcohol, continued grassy and herbal hop simplicity, crispy pale malts, sea salt, clove and black pepper, gastric acidity, and sweet, sugary cereal graininess. The end is where most of the hops come through, with bitterly grassy and sweetly nectary varietals sitting atop a simple base of honey, pale and muddied wheat, sweet raw barley and corn, brewer’s yeast, frank metallics, and white breadiness. The aftertaste breathes of booze, plastics, vinyl, popcorn, nutty graininess, yeasty grit, continued pale malts, unsalted peanuts, vinegar acidity, straw and dried lawn, earth, mineral, and lightly resiny hops. The body is medium, and the carbonation is medium to high. Finishing pop stands out for the mouthfeel, as it is crisp, thorough, and robust. Slurp, smack, cream, and froth are all decidedly weak in comparison, but don’t detract from the experience. The mouth is left puckered and cloyed, with satiating salivation and light chalky astringency. The abv is fitting, and drinkability is high.

Overall, what we found to be most enjoyable about this brew was its simplicity through the taste and aroma, and its ease of drinkability. While we’ve had this beer many times in the past, and enjoyed it, today it seems to be striking our palates at a funny angle. The aroma and taste both seem to be wrought with a curious plastic component. This actually faded quite a bit with warmth, but it did simultaneously reveal a heavy malt base, which tended to overwhelm the hop components. These were also a bit more bittering and puckering than we remember, as well, but in the end it didn’t stop of from enjoying this drink and leaving it with fond thoughts yet again.

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Photo of JohnF
4.69/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

My wife asked me to buy some of this Great Lakes beer. I did not realize it won some medals and now I see why. A great lower alcohol beer; very smooth and everything a pale ale should be. I usually like heavier beers, but this one is very good for summer drinking and lower percentage.

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Photo of Knuckles_Nuclear
3.67/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a nonic.

A- Half-inch head quickly dissipated into a thin cap. very little lacing clung to the glass. The color was a pretty, clear amber-golden hue with plenty of lively carbonation.

S- At the nose, I whiffed faint notes of yeasty bread, citrus, bits of piney hops.

T- Caramel, toasted toffee, sweet malt, cut by a noticeable hoppy presence. Maybe some orange peel. Well-balanced and not overly bitter, but enough to cut the malty sweetness.

M- Bubbly, medium body, nothing fancy. Finishes clean.

O- A solid, well-balanced, drinkable APA. A tad hoppy for my personal taste, but keeping with the style. Not spectacular, but quite good.

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Photo of Act25
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow! As an APA fan (dales pale ale). This beer rocked me. Wish it came in cans.

Poured bottle into .5 l cylinder named Spaten.

A: Beautiful, clear, copper amber with large, dense 3 finger lasting head, and sticky lacing all the way down. Close appearance to Dales which is just a shade more copper.

S: Biscuit, bread, with leafy hops rising, but subtle. Stronger as the beer swirls and warms. More sea foam, beach, outdoors kind of head, sea side forest when you give a big swirl.

T: First, biscuity malt which trends to some citrus pith as plenty of hops engage ; the finish is fruity and bitter. Lots of hops tingle leaves you happy. A kissing beer. An original woody, fresh cut heart wood taste is included that give this beer an edge of originality, not unlike the strong pine of Dales.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a strong level of carbonation; crisp feel, great with food, in this case Salmon with garden tomatoes, peppers, basil, onion on toast w ny cream cheese, lemon olive oil and balsamic and pepper.

Drinkability: This is a top APA that everyone must try, and up there with my fave Dales Pale Ale.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.43/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at Santora's Pizza in Amherst.

Pours a rich gold, off-white head. Foamy, nice retention. Lace is nice. Pleasant-looking pale.

Smells grassy, citric, tangy and slightly savoury. Bit of bread dough. OK.

Tastes quite doughy upfront. Gets a bit of resinous hop midway with citric notes, pine needle, some paprika and dry wood. A bit on the savoury side, could use more tang.

Fizz on there, but the body is OK for the style.

Not quite as refreshing as I'd like, but some nice notes, and some interesting ones as well.

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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 1,013 ratings.