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 brewandbbq
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is contract brewed at Jolly Pumpkin.

Pours clear gold, with a light chill haze. A three-inch head of dense white sank slowly, and a partial skim-coat remained for the duration. A few strings of lacework also.

Aromatics are lemony, hay-like, and brightly acidic. Slightly lactic, with plenty of wheat twang and grapefruit.

Light bodied and crisp. Tart and quenching mouthfeel.

The pallet delivers what the nose promised. Lemon zest, wet hay, grapefruit pith, and clean acid. Slightly prickly on the back of the throat.

Finishes with plenty of lemony tartness and cut grass on the farm.

This ones a bit cleaner than the JP brews in that the lactic quality is minimal, while the acid is bright and clean. Some more funk would be nice, especially some brett.
Mildly sour in comarison to an authentic lambic or other American wild ales, but certainly more sour than any Biere de Garde.
Pretty damn tasty on a hot summer's eve.

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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 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 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 robbyc1
3.79/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from the bombers at the Goose Isand April tasting.

Not much of a look, like Bud lite.

Nose is interesting, leathery funk, with not much malt backbone.

Taste is sweet, then sour from the oak, then sweet at the end. Very much like a hard lemonade, needs more malt but good as is.

Mouthfeel has the right feel, oak vanilla comes through. Have some more, maybe? Nice.

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Photo of flowerysong
4.71/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Whoa, this one's a gusher. Cracked it open and a torrent of foam inundated the table. Vigorous carbonation in the pour makes it difficult to serve. Pours an extremely hazy lemon yellow with a towering white head.

Nose: Cellar funk and citric fruit.

Taste: Acidic apple and lemon fruit up front, followed by a gentle earthy funkiness and some mild oak influence. The acid is balanced by a mild caramel malt sweetness. Slight hop influence on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Creamy medium-full body, bubbly carbonation.

Overall: Excellent beer, but I can't help but feel that it's quite a bit overcarbonated.

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

The first thought that came to mind when drinking was Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. And Belgium. Real nice stuff. I've been really getting into the Open Fermentation style lately. Those wild yeasts are so lively :) With the whole oak barrel aged thing, I wondered if the barrels previously held white wine, as that is what it reminded me most of, beyond dang good beer!

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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 jasonpeckins32
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, really quite a one-of-a-kind beer here, atleast when compared to what I've tried in my past.

The golden thing is accurate, as it looks just that way sitting in my pint glass. Kind of murky, nice lacings throughout the drink.

It smells like ripened citrus fruits and herbal spices. Floral, but not in a hoppy way. Something more unique.

The taste is great, those same notes of citrus, herbalness, floralness, combine with chardonnay and hard apple cider to create quite a nice tasting beer.

The mouthfeel is very nicely carbonated and goes down easy. I stumbled across this one, and didnt quite know what to expect, but I'm glad I found it. This is really something worth trying, I wouldnt suggest letting it pass you by.

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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 putnam
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The energy and substance of this beer is revealed by a rising column of foam from the neck of a freshly opened bottle. It pours very pale and clear yellow. Aromas of marsh grass and moldy lemon peels. A dry herbal attack of lemon and grapefruit is supported by slick, muscular texture. Very tart. Bitter finish. Bubblegum powder stitches chipped basement rocks to yellow leather flavors. Begs to be served with grassy alpine cheeses, kraut and organ meats.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aroma: funky, Pils malt, oaky, chardonnay notes pop out of the glass and on to the nose. Slight spicy phenolic notes round out the aroma.

Appearance: Well, golden. Truth in advertising. Vibrant carbonation streams up the cloudy body leaving a big fluffy white head that laces in a classic Belgian-style fashion.

Flavor: Sour chardonnay, oak, white grapes, a bit of horse blanket, and some yeasty funk. Peppery spiciness that is well-knitted with the other up front flavors.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, highly carbonated, spritzy, and clean. Leaves a little bit of yeast funk on the palate. Finishes crisp and dry.

Overall impression: A light, refreshing, funky French-style ale. Not my cup of tea but well done. Drinkability suffers a bit for me due to the sourness. Not overdone but 12 oz would go along way for me let alone 750 mL's.

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Photo of zdk9
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I became interested in this beer after seeing a small review in the Metrotimes. Today I went for it because I was in the mood for something fruity instead of my normal dark porters and stouts.

A- Pours a murky yellow orange. Think two-fingered head of white cotton that dissipated very slowly.

S- Yeast is the first thing to arrive at the nose, but soon other flavors come out- lemon in particular.

T- The taste is very much like the smell. Yeast, and then lemon and Chardonnay, and very faint malt levels. The aftertaste is much hoppier and bitter, a contrast from the tart taste initially.

M- The sourness takes away from the smoothness, not the best mouth coater (but perhaps this is my fondness for darker beers coming through)

D- The beer is quite refreshing and would live up to it's purpose according to the bottle of "drinking on the beach". The complexity and the sourness keeps you begging for more. All together a great beer to quench my thirst today.

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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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Photo of ypsifly
4.72/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750 purchased at Merchant's in Dearborn and poured into a Duvel glass.

Slightly hazed apple juice with a tall head of white that is sticky and leaves sheets and rings as it goes down.

Wonderful funky aromas of earth, wood, past ripe pears and apples. A bit of spice hangs underneath. Sour, tart, and cellar. Awesome!

The oak barrels are very apparent in the taste. This is followed by a fruity tart like flavor with a tasty funky sourness. Bitter to tart apples. Lingering sourness with hop flavors in the aftertaste.

The mouth is spritzy and tart yet in no way light. A very complex and flavorful beer that makes you want more and the abv allows for indulgence.

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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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