Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Commodore Perry

Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Cleveland, OH

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 8.0%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Ah, Cleveland! Home of LeBron, Chief Wahoo, The Dawg Pound, and a foul stench that can be dectected from hundreds of miles away. No offense to any Cleveland Beer Dorks out there, but honestly- we're talking about a city that accumulated so much pollution back in the day that the river actually started on fire. That's right, the river was actually ON FIRE! It takes talent to make water burn. While Cleveland has reportedly experienced a major renaissance in the past few years, they said the same thing about Sarajevo during the 1984 Winter Olympics, and that ended up not working out so well. Cleveland does have a few things going for it, however. The Cavaliers, led by King James, are headed to the NBA Finals for the first time ever, and Nigel is pulling hardcore for Bron-Bron to kick the livin' you-know-what out of the dirty cheaters from San Antonio. Cleveland's racially insensitive baseball team, the Indians, are playing quite well and are Nigel's darkhorse team in the American League this year (us Milwaukeeans have had a bit of a crush on the Indians ever since "Major League"). Cleveland also has the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame, but Nigel has never fully understood why. Rumor has it that professional football returned to Cleveland in 1999 after a brief hiatus, but I have yet to see any evidence of that. Finally, Cleveland is home to one of the finest, and perhaps most underrated Midwest breweries, Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Take it easy Northeast Ohio, Nigel means no harm with his lighthearted Cleveland bashing. Like many Rust Belt cities such as Detroit, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee, Cleveland gets a bad rap nationally based on ignorant, stuck-up East and West Coast snobs false perceptions. I've never been to Cleveland, so I have no right to criticize (I have been to Detroit a couple of times however, and, well... uh... no comment). In Nigel's opinion, any city with such a high quality craft brewery is a-ok (unless its Detroit... but I digress). Unfortunately for Nigel, my soon-to-be former home has sketchy distribution of Great Lakes brews, but every time I'm able to get my royal paws on some, I snatch them up. Commodore Perry is the fourth Great Lakes brew that I've been fortunate enough to sample, and so far I've been very impressed with them all (Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Dortmunder Gold, and the phenonmenal Nosferatu being the others).

Not only was Nigel drawn to Commodore Perry due to the fact that it's an IPA- and a ballsy one at that- but I love any quality brew that references a historical person, place, or event. After all, two of Nigel's favorite things are beer and history. Many of you may know the famous Commodore Perry from 19th Century American history. That would most likely NOT be the one Great Lakes is referring to. Commodore Matthew Perry is widely known among Americans as a man who helped open the Florida coast after the U.S. acquired it from Spain, as a key figure in developing steamers in the U.S. Navy, as a hero of the Mexican-American War, and, most famously, as the man whose expeditions to Japan helped open that previously isolated country to the rest of the world, sparking an unprecendented period of modernization there (oops, World War II). The Commodore Perry that people from Ohio (Ohioans? Ohianites? What the hell are ya'll called?) know and love would be Oliver Perry, Matthew's older brother. Oliver was a hero during the War of 1812 due to his exploits at the Battle of Lake Erie, in which he defeated a far superior British fleet. Both Perry brothers are American legends who helped legitimize the U.S. Navy, but it's Oliver who has become the bigger legend in Northern Ohio and Western New York. Ah, yes- Nigel gets to talk history during a beer review. Life is good!

So how is Commodore Oliver Perry's beer? It's quite good, and at 8% abv, it's bigger than C.C. Sabbathia's gigantic, 'roided-up melon (kidding- Nigel likes C.C.). Commodore Perry pours somewhat light for the style: a dark golden brown color with a nice head on the pour that slowly dissipates, leaving only a slight trace during the rest of the drink. I'm guessing there may typically be more head and lace with this brew, but it's quite humid in Nigeland tonight, leading to an excessive amount of condensation which typically hinders the appearance of a fine brew in a glass. The smell is good, though not terribly strong for the style. A nice floral hoppiness, with only a mild hint of piney bitterness, balanced well with stong citrus tones led by orange zest and grapefruit, and the slightest of malty, caramel undertones. The taste is excellent. Nice and bitter, like any fine IPA should be (especially one with such impressive stats), the hoppiness is nicely tempered by sweet caramel malt and boatloads of citrusy sweetness, dominated by grapefruit and navel orange. This may be the sweetest IPA this side of Two Hearted, though it still maintains that crisp bitterness that Nigel loves so much. Commodore Perry is surprisingly light given it's strength, and it goes down quite smooth and clean- very refreshing in an odd sort of way. Be careful, because this may seem like a session brew, but at 8%, it'll catch up to you pretty quick. Drink it in small doses and enjoy each sip, but remember that drinking too much at a time could come back to bite you in the ass- much like having Jose Mesa as your closer in the 1995 World Series. Ouch, Cleveland, but hey- now's your time to shine.

Cheers, and Go Cavs!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on June 5, 2007.
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