Attack of the Altbier! Otter Creek Copper Ale

So who out there has never heard of an Altbier? Sounds pretty cool right? Cool name, but you probably have no idea what it means. Am I warm? If I’m right, and you’re still not sure what it is, then allow me to explain –  An altbier is a type of German beer style where the beer is aged and conditioned for a longer than normal period of time (alt is German for old). Like krausening (see my previous reviews for info on this), another good German aging tool, it helps to mellow the flavor of the beer. It gives all the components a nice chance to interact with each other, it allows the kids time to play and learn how to get along.

This was an interesting pick for me, something I grabbed at Buy-Rite when you decide to build my own six pack. The name Copper Ale sounded intriguing enough. I figured this would be a nice earthy copper/amber/light brown beer, and of course my gut was right. Otter Creek Brewing Company, based out of Middlebury, VT started brewing this in 1991. Since then, it has become their flagship beer. That immediately told me I have something good to expect from this beer. Hopefully my expectations weren’t too great. So how did it fare?

When I first popped the bottle cap off this bottle, an avalanche of foam began to pour out of the mouth. I’ve rarely seen that much carbonation develop so quickly, unless a beer has been shaken or hasn’t fermented for long enough. Neither was the case with this one. So for carbonation’s sake, it was in good supply. After the initial pour, obviously the huge fluffy white head settled, but the beer kept a nice 1/4 head of film above the amber/red/light brown body.

Smelling the beer was the next step. I couldn’t help but think of a light yeast, sort of grassy smell you’d get from fresh cut grains. That clean, refreshing scent that lights your nostrils up and begs you to breathe deeper. Also included would be the bready aroma and nice color from toasted malts. This was an interesting aroma, so without hesitation I took a pull.

Interesting taste. You can taste the earthy malt texture immediately, a touch of caramel and a nutty component. What follows though is a somewhat piney, hoppy taste; mild and somewhat under the tongue, so to speak. In other words, this delivers a hop characteristic midway through the taste, but not in an over-abundance, as with an IPA or typical American pale ale. At times throughout the first half of the beer however, I would get that metallic taste in my mouth after taking a nice sip. If one gets too much of that, it could ruin a beer. This one wasn’t bad, but still a little too much for my liking. The beer is pretty thin and watery, but still delivers a light to medium body and a fairly crisp finish.

I won’t say this is the best beer I’ve had, but I think it’s certainly one that more people will drink again rather than pass on. The only you way you’ll know which category you fall into is to pick up some Copper Ale from Otter Creek and give it a whirl. As they say, an educated mind is a man’s greatest weapon. In beer circles, an educated palate should be just as vital.


Otter Creek Copper Ale

About Jason M

Texas Style - Having grown up down south, I've grown an appreciation for the "bigger is better" mantra. Bigger and bolder flavor is something I crave in my beers. Some people are hop-heads, all they drink are IPA's and other hoppy beers. Others are big on wheat beers. Some like it dark. Me? I'm an all-the-above kind of guy. I've had a love for all varieties since I was young and that has not changed. Good beer is good beer.

I'm constantly seeking out the latest and greatest new variety, because despite having an old-time favorite beer, drinking the same old flavors over and over gets old. That being said, I've got to try something new, explore my boundaries. After all, variety is the spice of life, no?

Favorite Beers - Unibroue La Fin du Monde, Founders Backwoods Bastard, Schlafly Oak Aged Barleywine

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