10/15/19: Great Lakes Brewing Company's Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale

6:53 PM

If you said to me: "Hey, John. I'm getting tired of all the pumpkin beers!" I wouldn't blame you. I know I've been doing a ton of pumpkin posts lately. While I wouldn't say I agree with you, I definitely wouldn't fault you.


I still have plenty of pumpkin brews to get to over the next few weeks, but I figure now might be a good time to take a break from the gourdy goodness. Tonight, we have an ale that's decidedly Halloweeny, but not spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, or anything else that's graced most of this month's posts. No, tonight I'm going for something else. Tonight, I'm taking a look at Great Lakes' Nosferatu.

The brewery was originally dreamed up by Pat and Dan Conway in 1986 Cleveland. After partnering with some former employees of Schmidt's (the then-last operating brewery in Cleveland), they quickly got to work brewing on a seven barrel system. Fast forward to the 2010s: The brewery's still going strong. Having upgraded from a single seven barrel system to one containing three three-hundred barrel fermenters, they've long since passed the 100,000 barrel mark and show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. If you'd like the full skinny, be sure to hit up Great Lakes' "Our History" page.

Nosferatu is, like I said, not a pumpkin ale. In fact, it's an 8% ABV Imperial Red Ale that only sees release in September. It has "...a toasty malt body..." and "...a stunning hop bite."

There's plenty of malt on the ale's nose. Were I blindly pressed to name the ale's style from the boquet alone, I think I'd guess an Oktoberfest. There is some very mild hop bitterness here that provides a chill of sorts to the aroma, but that's it. It's an exquisitely simple bouquet. One, it seems, Purrl doesn't value in the same way I do--she only gave my bottle a single whiff.


The bite of the hops touted on the ale's official description is no embellishment. A swig gives a brief maltiness that's quickly drowned out by big, bitter hops. They're resinous and piney (sort of reminiscent of a coffin wherein a vampire might reside). The hops chase down the long finish before all that's left is a hint of the malty sweetness (toffee and caramel) that introduced the ale. There's a little boozy warmth here, but not as much as I would've thought there'd be.

Considering the bite of the hops, I expected the ale to have a similar bitey mouthfeel. This isn't the case at all, however. Instead of bite here, it's all pretty damn smooth. It helps to accentuate the long finish by letting that finish shine.

I was a kid when the TNT remake of Salem's Lot aired. One Saturday, after each episode of the miniseries had premiered, the station ran the whole thing in a chunk, each episode back to back. I made sure to watch all of it. This was a bad choice.

See, I had quite the aversion to scary stuff when I was younger. So, after powering through the whole series, I headed immediately to bed. My dog, who always slept at my feet, had awful allergies and, that night particularly, was up throughout the night licking at her paws. My young mind played this sound as vampires sucking blood of unsuspecting victims. I didn't sleep at all that night. Maybe it's the whole vampire thing Nosferatu has going for it, but that frightening, restless night's what I'm thinking of as I sit here drinking the ale.

I'm pleased to report that Great Lakes' addition to the wide array of Halloween beers is a very good one, indeed. Sure, there's no hint of pumpkin present in it, but Nosferatu is a welcome change of pace from the standard gourdy fare. I'm giving my bottle a 9.5/10. If you can still find a sixer kicking around, snatch it up before it disappears into the night before resurfacing next September.

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