Good Harbor Golden Ale | Leelanau Brewing Company

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Good Harbor Golden AleGood Harbor Golden Ale

Brewed by:
Leelanau Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Bière de Garde

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by ypsifly on 11-20-2006

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Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 124
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 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 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 joeseppy
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very pale hazy yellow with a stark white head that eventually will dissappear.

Upfront sour and funk. Wet musty wood or maybe the inside of my old ballcap, whichever is worse and/or Outstanding. Trace white vinegar noted as well.

Apprehensive of going in. Very pleasant tartness is more refined. Fresh cut lemons prominent melding well with yeasty presence. Some acidity in the back.

Lighter feel, crisp and refreshing. Would love to get another bottle to enjoy in warmer weather.

Speaking of times, this is good times. A pleasant bottle to share with friends and also inspires a food/cheese pairing. Good times, good times.

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Photo of macher0
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A. Beautiful light straw. Light head that retreats to a fine bubble rime. Very fine carb. Translucent.

S. Your traditional JP yeast. Neutral oak. Light malts. Minor fruit notes such as green apple, lemons, pears, and persimmon. Dusty straw.

T. Moderate tartness. Sour yeast dominates is a very good way. Follows the nose nicely. Strong neutral oak and dusty grain. Similar fruit notes as the nose with a noticeable sour apple presence. A little hop bite.

M. Uber smooth, high carbonation, light body, and crisp finish.

O. Go get this. Worth the price of admission. I think this crushes it's ultimate predecessor - Petrus. It's so smooth and refreshing. Wonderful for a summer day. The abv is a little surprising at 7.5. It comes across as less. I'm not sure the precise relationship between JP and Leelanu but they have a very similar yeast profile. Gots to love the Dexter microbes.

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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 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 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 crossovert
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml green bottle.

It pours a slightly hazy old with a fizzy bright white head that dissipates rather quickly with no lacing.

The smell is really sour, I was surprised. It has a tingly passionfruit nectar scent along with some sour green apple, tangerine, lemon, and pineapple. There are some sweet malts in the background accentuating the tropical nature. There is some flowery/herbal scents going on too. There is a slight funk but not too much, more of just a slightly funkier saison yeast.

The flavor is interesting. It is nicely sour with sour green apple peel, lemon zest, and acid. There is a bit more funkiness going on with a long funky aftertaste. There is a tiny bit of hops and oak. This one is mostly sour.

A great surprise, something I have passed over a lot but glad I got to try.

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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 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 GoldenChild
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Kinda Pricie beer at 19$ a bottle

Pours a beautiful Golden yellow with a very bubbly white head.

Smells like oak and funky citrus zest, Pears, apples, and Grapefruit.

Taste is extremely tart followed by oak flavors, apple, grapefruit and lemon.

Nice beer very refreshing and I need to have more.

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Photo of ChugginOil
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shout out to Brant @ St. Charles Binny's for the recommendation!

Split with my buddy wesside89

Pours a very hazy, yellow/orange color with a fingers worth of white head. Tons of spotty lacing.

The nose is funked up for sure! There is some lemony, citrus fruits along with that barnyard, weirdo funk. Loving it. There is also an extremely mild tartness that is melded with the other scents.

The taste has some horse blanket, funky, grassy flavors up front. These are followed by some citrus fruit flavors that create a nice balanced profile against the funky yeasts. There is some white grape that hangs for a moment, like a quick bite into a grape. That light tartness lingers and keeps my palate beggin' for more. There is just enough tartness to keep this brew very diverse. Lots of incorporated flavors working here.

The mouthfeel is crisp and enticing. There is an amble amount of champagne-like carbonation that works well with the sweet and semi-tart characteristics.

Overall, nice barrel treatment. This shows how you can integrate a biere de garde with a barrel to create a very tasty brew. I just wish i was a millionaire so I could buy cases upon cases. Well, I guess i can dream.

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Photo of mikereaser
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a slightly hazy golden yellow with an inch or two of bright white foam that is just hanging out bubbling away on the surface.

S - The aroma is very familiar, i'm guessing this is a Jolly Pumpkin beer. It has that slightly sweet horse blanket type of funk. There is some sort of citrusy fruit as well that livens it up a bit. I don't think I've had this one before.

T - Slightly peppery, a bit weaker than the aroma would lead you to think. Some sour apple, grape skin. Its slightly sour, horse blanket funk. Very nice flavor and very drinkable. This would be great on a hot summer day.

M/D - Light crisp body with some nice carbonation. It has just a tinge of tartness that makes you want to go back for more.

Very nice beer indeed. I was thinking a Jolly Pumpkin but I second guess myself, so lets open it up.

Leelanau Good Harbor Golden Ale
So I was right, kind of. Very nice beer and I never had this one for sure. Very enjoyable, very drinkable.

A - 4.5
S - 4
T - 4.5
M - 4
D - 4.5

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

750 ml bottle marked with a bottled on date of 4-29-2011, poured into a Lion tulip. Would like to have a fresher bottle, but it says it can be stored for a decade, so here it goes.

A- It's a slight gusher, just topping the rim of the bottle upon opening. The resulting pour produced a 2-finger, foamy white head head. The 1st pour was clean, golden body with bits of yeast suspended with moderate carbonation. The head sustains nicely at 1/2-finger and leaves good sticky spots on the glass. It's definitely lighter in color on the Biere de Garde spectrum, though not off the charts. Reminds me of Les Bière Des Sans Culottes. The final pour was nicely cloudy with a yeast swirl and dump.

S- Even in the bottle, I picked up a ton of funk. Lots of apple peel, bubble gum, musty accents, and lemon. After the pour, I got a lot of the must, green apple, and lemon zest. Underlying, cracker-like malts. Some warmth brings out some tropical fruit or melon-like qualities. Hints of white pepper.

T- Very pleasant funk. Apple peels up front, with a dose of black pepper in a spicy middle, and a lemony finish. It's really dry, and really pleasant. The dose of black pepper is nearly perfect. I could drink this all day. The 750ml isn't enough. While most of this review was food-free, the final pour even contrasted nicely with some homemade, spicy, shredded chicken tacos.

M- Light without being watery. Quite dry and refreshing from the citrus qualities. Moderate carbonation.

O- An easy drinker and a great beer. As Biere de Gardes go, it's not as malty as most. It's been a while, but I want to compare it to Les Bière Des Sans Culottes. It's nearing something of a Saison. I had an initial concern with the sticker shock creating disappointment, but all was relieved. At $13.50 for a 750ml, it would be more of a special occasion beer than every day drinker. It was great on an unseasonably warm January afternoon (blue skies and temps somewhere around 40). It could be a nice summer treat on the deck with the grill fired up.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle. Not cheap at about $18/bottle. Pours a slightly hazed light golden color with a slight white head. Some lacing. Nice nose, lemon zest and some caramel. Medium/light mouthfeel. Lemon and pineapple off the bat. Some oaky notes in the back end. lingering Chardonnay like flavor. Decent but not sure if it is worth the cost.

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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 sbrotschul
3.53/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this bottle up at House of 1000 Beers ( in New Kensington, PA. It was my first time in the store, so I picked up a few guilty pleasures beer -- including three from Leelanau Brewing Company. I had lived in the county and know of the brewers through friends. This was my first time trying their beer.

Appearance. Light in color, towards the orange, it reminded me more of a wine than a beer. Little head, but the colors danced around in the light.

Smell. Oddly enough, it smelled like fruit gum. The smell worried me, as I am not a huge fan of fruity beer.

Taste. Crisp, fruity and complex. Far different than I would have expected.

Mouthfeel. Lots of bubbles and activity when taking a mouthful.

Overall. A fun beer -- to be shared amongst friends after a hot day. Very refreshing, fun. Different taste, which was a nice break from the complex and heavy beers I have recently been discovering. Thank you Leelanau Brewing Company -- keep up the great work!

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a tulip. Thanks to Dunt for bringing out this bottle and introducing me to another fun Michigan brewery.

Appearance: Out of the bottle this pours a relaxed yellow, cloudy, with a soft off-white cap. Just a few gentle spots of lace remain down the glass.

Smell: Full of fun bugs. Very tart, vinegar, lemon rind, some apricot, and a little funk.

Taste: Nice and sour. The flavor starts and stays sour the whole time, with a lot of lemon, some apricot, and some grassy notes playing in the forefront preventing the Brett from wreaking havoc on my palate. Some spicy notes and a little oak add some depth.

Mouthfeel: The body is definitely on the light side, with medium carbonation. The tartness creates a nice puckering sensation without being over the top. Overall I find the feel works well with the flavors.

Overall: This is an enjoyable brew and I would be interested to try their other offerings. This is big enough to keep me interested, but light enough to be refreshing in the summer.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml capped bottle from a batch late in 2010. drank from my russian river "tion" glass.

A- this beer comes out of the bottle a hazy bright golden colored body with a finger and a half of bright white head. the head takes its time falling and leaves behind large spots of lacing. were off to a good start.

S- the first thing i can pick out of the nose is the classic jolly pumpkin yeast. decently funky (wet hay/barnyard) with some lactic tartness also. malted wheat. lemon zest comes through at the end.

T- the taste starts out with plenty of the wild yeast that i like so much from jolly pumpkin brand beers. not over the top funky or sour. green apple skin, lemon zest, malted wheat and soft bready notes. light lemon and earthy hops on the finish.

M- the body is on the upper side of light, and the carbonation is pretty high. not overly sour. decently dry.

O- a very enjoyable beer from a very under appreciated brewery. id like to grab some more of these to see how they age.

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Photo of readbaron
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy golden yellow with white foam, decent retention, and excellent lacing.

Smells like lemons, with a bit of vinegar and barnyard funk.

Tastes very gueuze like. One of the tarter sours I've had. Lots of lemon, very acidic, with just a hint of funk. Crisp and sour.

Mouthfeel is great. Carbonation is good. Light bodied and crisp.

Overall. Very nice beer. Perfect amount of sour - any more and it'd be difficult to drink.

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Photo of GrandCruDrew
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750mL poured in my New Belgium goblet 4/27/11. Green low shoulder bottle. I believe 2008-ish

A- Great Golden color, hazy, decent head, about an inch that dissapeared quickly, very little to no head.

S- Familar Lime-ade nose with tartness, and tropical fruits, Brett aroma.

T- Sour, funky Fun Stripes gum that resembles, lime, lemon, orange...all citrus fruit with some tropical fruit lace. The Brett has started to be prominate over the fruit at this age.

M- Good feel but a quick finish. Tart and sour.

Overall- A great Summer beer. I have had this beer many times. I don't believe I caught this one in it's prime, but still showing really good for 3-4 years old.

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Photo of techfed87
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, crisp yellow. Smell is a bit more muted than what I expected it would be.

First sip is nice and clean. The sour nature is also a little less than other sour beers that are on the market. Still, combined with the excellent body and drinkability of the ale, I can't find any reason not to fall in love with it.

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Photo of rings
3.24/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

It pours a golden straw color, not unlike any macro brewed swill, at least until the yeast arrives. Appearances, however, are the last thing standard about this brew. It opens very fruity with a pronounced tart finish. The malty sweetness blends with hints of vanilla and an estery sweet-tart carbonation as it rolls around the tongue. The tartness can be a bit much alone, but it pairs nicely with many dishes or cheeses and its lighter body belies the supposed 7.5 percent ABV and 1067 original gravity, according to the brewer's notes. While it certainly doesn't seem that strong, it is very complex. I found hints of tannins, citrus lemon, and pineapple over the course of the bottle.

That all said, this ale is probably not for everyone. The tartness can be offsetting and its complexity is pretty standard for most Belgian yeast strains. As a biére de garde ("beer for keeping"), I'm also not sure how the lighter body will hold up if this beer is aged--per the label suggestion--up to a decade ...although, I have a feeling it will do nothing but sour for the worse.

It's a nice brew, very interesting, but nothing extraordinary.

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Photo of craytonic
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance Cloudy honey-straw-yellow with a nice white fluffy head and some good lacing.

Nose: Nice fruity funk to it

Taste: Great addition of bugs to this one, brett in perfect proportions and slightly cheesy. Slightly grassy, reminiscent of spring on this cold winter's night. Night fruit flavors of pears and apples with pepper (and perhaps some ginger) and oak in the back.

Mouthfeel: perfect light carbonation, creamy but slightly thin. Alcohol is not noticeable at all.

Drinkability: This is the first Biere de Garde I have enjoyed, and I attribute it to good brewing and microbes. I would definitely drink this again.

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Good Harbor Golden Ale from Leelanau Brewing Company
4.15 out of 5 based on 124 ratings.
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