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 kzoobrew
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into New Belgium globe. Slightly hazed golden hay colored body capped by a two finger bone white head. The head recedes to a slim cap rather quickly. Impressive lacing left clinging to the glass.

Very pleasing aroma. Soft and approachable. Tart green apple and bright citrus notes are plentiful up front. Rustic aromas are settled in just behind. The Brett is held in check, compliments the fruitier scents well.

Sweet citrus fruit rolls across the tongue before transitioning to a tart Granny Smith bite. The flavor is fairly balanced behind. Soft oak and white pepper flavors are intertwined through out. The farm house flavors are understated in comparison to to other Ron Jeffries concoctions.

Light to medium bodied beer with lively carbonation. Very smooth and slightly creamy texture. The finish is rather dry, very appropriate for the beer.

Excellent beer. Highly drinkable, slightly too easy to enjoy. The alcohol is masterfully disguised, I would not guess that this was 7.5%. The price point is very nice compared to similar beers though a bit higher than I will pay on an average day. I will revisit this one from time to time, too good not to.

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

On tap at the MBGSF. Pours blonde with a good head and good lace. The aroma is earthy, fruity, and funky with some distinct lemon peel and some hay. The flavor is nicely dry and earthy and slightly but nicely sour. The beer reminds me a good bit of Champagne.

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

Batch dated 8-12-10. Picked up a bottle at Jolly Pumpkin's Ann Arbor location. Clear golden pour, with a fine white head. The nose is sour, barnyard funkiness. Flavor is very sour, barnyard, wheat, lemongrass, pineapple. I've been looking for a bottle of this since reading the New York Times review of best Belgian-style beers and saw it listed. I really enjoy Jolly Pumpkin's beers, and this one, brewed for Leelanau, is no exception.

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Photo of fear025
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Aroma:Smells like a sour farmhouse ale. Lemon, belgian yeast, sulphur.

Appearance:Hazy golden color, with light head and retention. Good lacing.

Taste:Hugely sour beer. Sour citrus, lemon, lime, orange in the foretaste.

Mouthfeel:Light body, good carbonation.

Drinkability:This is quite an interesting sour beer.

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Photo of psiweaver
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750Ml Bottle poured into Reidel Stemless red wine glass.

Beautiful hazy golden yellow with a soft white head.

great complex spiced smell. You can definitely smell the barrel in this one. Almost like a good Chardonnay in terms of barrel impact.

Great rich complex silky buttery taste fantastic complexity with a nice spice impact. A great beer!

Very easy to drink with its satisfying full mouthfeel and complexity, while not overpowering you with its alchohol.

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Photo of SpdKilz
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

New Beer Friday! A huge thanks to erikkoppin for this great beer. Cheers!

Appearance - Pours a hazy golden color into my Bell's tulip. About a finger of brilliant white head is achieved, which dissipates relatively quickly leaving light lacing around the sides of the glass.

Smell - Oh my. An immediate sour/tart aroma is detected which makes me salivate. Barnyard funk, wet hay, floral grassy hops, and actually sweet citrus makes its way through with appearances by lemons, granny smith apples, and is that slight strawberry I smell? A slight oak scent is also present the more this beer warms up.

Taste - Similar to the aroma, with acidic tartness/sourness up front. I disagree with what others have said and feel this is not an overpowering flavor. It is actually more subdued than I expected. The other flavors bring down the acidity of this beer, allowing the citrus from the fruits and the funk from the brett to do their jobs. There is a slight breadiness, spicy hops among other spices, and some oak. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel - Medium to light bodied, nice carbonation, finishes a tad dry.

Drinkability - Extremely so. I know this brewery is somehow related or deals with Jolly Pumpkin, hence my picking up the three beers they offer. This beer, to be honest, is less funky than I was expecting (in comparison to say the Bière De Mars from JP). However, this adds to its drinkability. There is zero showing of alcohol and I am restraining myself from quaffing this fine brew. I can't wait to try the other two offerings from Leelanau Brewing Company.

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Photo of andymurray
4.48/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Shocking straw golden color. Verging on Sunkist. How's that for a technical term? Great refreshing tartness, but has a sweet citrus side that reminds me of ripe grapefruit. If you are a fan of extreme beers or big, in your face fruit flavors, it's worth tracking this beer down. I would argue it's better than Jolly Pumpkin and I wish it had wider distribution (i.e. Massachusetts, please). Mouthfeel was fine. Like I said it seemed to have some residual sugar which definitely gave it some body. Drinkability? 22 oz. was gone. Rapidly.

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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 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 wisrarebeer
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Labeled as a biere de garde but sample tasted is very sour -- probably from oak aging. I'm rating it as a sour ale.

A: straw colored
S: decent, with a slight earthy funk from the brett
T: very enjoyable, quenching, refreshing but not overly tart
M: dances on the tongue and well-balanced
D: very, especially on a summer day (if other versions are just as funky)

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

Thanks to hoppymeal for sending me these Leelanau beers, I've had them in my wants for a while and was really excited to try them. Shared this one last night at La Bella with Danny and Joey.

This one poured a straw yellow color with a bit of haze and a fizzy white inch of foam. The head falls down rather fast.

Tropical fruits galore, pineapple, mango, orange, grapefruit, apples, grapes, brett, oak, light spices, saltiness, crackers, acidic lemon, great aroma overall. Nectarines later on with a bit of hay and barnyard aromas, yeasty as well.

Tropical fruits again, pineapple, apples, pears, grapes, lemon, orange, and light pepper. Nice tartness upfront, with some sweet tropical fruits in the middle, and a semi-dry finish. Lots of lemon zest and a bit herbal too. Toward the end I was getting more yeast character, phenols, and cheese.

Very fizzy and a bit aggressive on the tongue, not as smooth as the other two Leelanaus before but still very decent for the style. Probably the best deal out of the 3 Leelanau beers, only $13 or so for a 750ml of this, pretty good stuff.

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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 vrazionale
4.89/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750 mL bottle at refrigerator poured into a snifter.

A - Pours a bright golden hazy yellow with a thin layer of head formation that quickly fades to patches across the top of the brew.

S - Wow. Bright citrus meets musky basement funk. A wonderfully complex combination of citrus fruit, wet hay, musk, bitter and floral honey, sweet grass, sweat, and oak aromas.

T - Wow, again. All of the aromas that showed up on the nose here combine to produce a brew that is truly one-of-a-kind. There is an absolutely invigorating combination of bright citrus fruit, old wet basement funk, honey, vanilla, and salty sweat, with a long finish of mouth-puckering citrus and hoppy citrus and pine. So deliciously balanced and enjoyable.

M - Perfect carbonation - this brew is crisp and addictive. The finish is long, complex, and beguiling on the palate.

D - This is about as good as it gets for me. I can't even begin to describe how wonderful of a brew this is.This brew is a boon to the esoteric beer drinker - its complexity is so enchanting and beguiling, and every sip is unique. I love to pair beer with food, but this brew is too good to drink with any food - just put on some good music, sit back, enjoy every sip, and enjoy life.

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Photo of johnd513
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is my first time trying any of Leelanau's beers. Not sure why I havan't picked up any of there beers off the shelf in the past but here it goes. Pours a bright golden color with a two finger fizzy white head that fizzles down much smaller in size and leaves nice lacing on the glass. Smells of wheat and big citrus flavors. The taste is extremely tart followed by oak flavors, apple, grapefruit and lemon flavors. The mouthfeel is high in carbonation and right on target for the style. Drinkability is high, goes down easy. I could drink this one all night.

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Photo of twelvsies
4.92/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is probably my favorite beer that I've stumbled upon over the past few years. Had this several times at the Spuyten Duyvil on a trip to New York last summer, and luckily got another chance thanks to a trade w/ vrazionale. Shared on the stoop with the Lady at the end of a long hot day. Pours a beautiful vibrant golden, almost florescent looking, slightly hazed, healthy two-finger head receding slowly into a creamy covering layer. The nose is full of oak and funky citrus zest. Lemon-lime, sour apple, orange zest and a nice woodsyness. Reminiscent of the finest gueuze Belgium has to offer. First sip is like stepping into the past. Maybe that's because I'm reminded of the good times I had when last drinking this beer, but it also has that old world, rustic farmhouse vibe to it. Initially tart, giving way to loads of complexities. Funky bugs, musty, earthy, dusty, spicy, slightly floral and a subtle herbal hop profile and passive pale malt. And then lots of citrus. Familiar lemon rind but also a deeper juicyness to it. I'm getting notes of fresh squeezed OJ here. Pineapple maybe. As it warms I'm almost reminded of Gatorade. An artificial flavor indeed, which amazes as this beer is of course all natural. Despite a lot of acidity and a wrenching, dry finish, this beer is somehow extremely refreshing. Truly an artisan product. Will search this one out on my travels again and again... Supple and delicious.

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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 joe1510
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Binny's, Orland Park

A ring of rusty yeasties are caked around the neck of the bottle but stay put as I pour into a tulip. The body of this biere de garde is pale golden with orange tinges around the edges. Carbonation arises from each and every surface of the glass to explode to the surface in streams. The perfectly white head rises to two fingers on the easiest of pours and slowly falls to a thick cap with and erratic collar with peaks and valleys. Strong sticky lacing is left after each drink.

The nose shows enough tartness to make my mouth instantly water. That familiar wheat twang plays the biggest role in the fairly simple malt profile but the standout in this beer is the barrel aging and the buggers that were in said barrel. White grapefruit rinds, lemon peel, dry musty oak, damp hay and dew covered cobwebs are all accounted for thanks to the barrel aging with the tart citric characteristics taking front stage. I could keep my nose in this glass all night long.

The flavor doesn't have quite the funk the nose led me to believe but there's enough there to keep things interesting. The tart citrus hits first and fades rather quickly as wheat and the brittle oakiness push through mid-palate. The citric sourness comes back on the swallow with enough punch to cause a bit of a pucker. There's a mineral quality in the aftertaste that's reminiscent of wet rock. The tartness manages to stick around on the inside of my cheeks to keep me wanting another drink.

The mouthfeel is exactly where it should be and fits the style of this brew perfectly. The body is on the lighter side of medium and the carbonation is lively, keeping things moving at a fairly quick speed. The carbonation never reaches prickly but does thin the beer out to the perfect consistency.

Drinkability is off the charts high. The tartness, drying finish, and lack of noticeable alcohol could easily keep this beer flowing all night long. It's too bad these are only sold in 750ml bottles.

This was contract brewed at Jolly Pumpkin and I'd have to say it may be my favorite of all their brews. A good clean, crisp beer with a simple malt base that lets the critters do their thing. A wonderful showcase for the brett dosed barrels.

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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 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 ballewblake
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up in Chicago I think, poured into my Duvel tulip

Thick white head on pour that dropped to nothing within a minute. Fast carbonation flowing up through a golden transparent body. Smell is gueze like, sour, tart, just like the taste. Wow, I wasn't expecting this when I got it or opened it. Tasty. Mouth fill is good, drinkabilty is good. I like this brew. Great to have an American craft brewery that produces a great sour like this.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light gold color with very little head and decent carbonation.

Scent of tart cherries, yeast, sugar, earth, and spices.

Taste of yeast, cherries, sugars, earth, spices, and some oak in the finish. A nice tart and tasty beer.

Mouthfeel is light bodied with fairly strong carbonation.

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from joe1510. Never heard of this brewery so I'm really looking forward to trying this brewski.

750 ml bottle poured into a tulip.

Pours a pretty hazy golden yellow hue with a quite one finger bright white head that dies down to a paper thin layer which lasts throughout. Just about nothing in terms of webbing. Aroma is pretty grassy with lemon, corn, and wheat. Tart Granny Smith apples and some pear in the nose as well. Taste has the before mentioned sour fruits with some grains and crips hay. Popcorn, oak, vanilla, and a touch of vinegar midway with a puckering lemongrass aftertaste. Light and refreshing body with a crazy crisp feel from the extremely active carbonation. The overall mouthfeel of this beer really leaves you begging for more, very champagne-esque. For how big of a bottle this was, and the very undetectable 7.5%, I had no problem finishing this bad boy myself. This beer was quite the surprise, I'd love to see what a few years would do to this beauty. Thanks Joe!!

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