Recently I got my hands on an older gluten free beer. A Harvester Brewing Dark Ale. It was the very last one on the shelf, and I almost didn’t buy it because the display of the Harvester Brewing brand tells me the beer is dated. It seems like awhile ago that Harvester Brewing became Ground Breaker Brewing, which leads me to wonder how long ago this beer was brewed.
Anyway, I’m so glad I bought this beer. It was fantastic.
I looked into it, and found that the old label Dark Ale is in fact different than the new one under the Ground Breaker label. The new one includes the addition of lentils and Belgian-style candi syrup in the brewing ingredients. This one I’m tasting now however, is lentil and Belgium-free.
The first thing I notice is the color. It has a rich chestnut brown color, much lighter than a porter. It also created a wonderful head as I poured it into the glass. I’ve noticed many gluten free beers don’t foam the way I’m used to. They seem to pour thinner, much like a cider. This Harvester poured beautifully though.
The smell is the very best part. After I allowed it to sit in the glass for awhile, I leaned down and took a whiff. It blew me away. Exactly how you want a winter beer to smell. Now I just need a crackling fireplace and a meal bubbling away in the crockpot for this fantasy to be complete.
The first taste is of sweet chestnuts. But the sweet flavors quickly give way to the hops, making each sip quite a flavor experience. It’s a well-carbonated and balanced medium bodied beer.
I love beers brewed with (certified GF!) oats. I enjoy the smoothness it bring to the body. This characteristic combined with the dark notes of roasted chestnuts almost makes it chocolate-like, a quality you might be familiar with in a porter. But not nearly as thick.
The beer actually has some hop kick to it surprisingly…not always the case with dark ales. Sometimes they are just too heavy and sweet for me. But this one has a slightly bitter aftertaste (thanks hops!), and maintains a certain crispness, despite the heavy taste profile.
The bitterness of the hops linger in the mouth and throat. This is an ideal characteristic for me, considering my obsession with the most bitter IPAs. It almost makes you think its a coffee ale.
As you may have noticed by now, I really like this beer. As I say that, I’m hit with the reality that this beer isn’t made anymore, but I have high hopes that the lentils only improved this brew. I look forward to trying the newer Ground Breaker Dark Ale, but until then I will continue to enjoy this jem.
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