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Frankenlager: Freaky label, quality beer


I have a friend named Simon. He lives in England, south of London, with his wife, Orla.

Now, Simon is a respectable guy, except for his love of horror movies. Not the contemporary, gory kind, but the old-fashioned kind — the Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price scene-chewing kind.

I thought of Simon the other day while browsing beer when I came across a bottle of of Frankenlager, part of the Big Beer Series from the Smuttynose Brewing Company of Hampton.

It was the label that caught my attention. It’s freakish, as you might expect from the name: an odd, disembodied head like a diagram from an old anatomy textbook, except that it’s sprouting hops. Definitely looking like something you might see in one of those old horror movies.

While it’s billed as a lager, it has more of a pilsner look in the glass, under a huge white head. The nose is rich and brims with hops, a nose loaded with citrus, lemon, lime hints, pine and herbal aromas.

The palate is dry, with medium-plus bitterness, medium acidity, medium alcohol (though I can’t find the alcohol content on the label), but it’s well-integrated, with a medium-plus flavor intensity that reflects the nose, but with the pine notes and stronger herbal flavors coming through. Hops, spice, vegetal, all blending and integrating along to the finish, which is long and satisfying.

People have different opinions about the trend toward eye-catching labels on both wine and beer bottles. In recent years, the pictures on labels have become more brash, but in the end, it’s what’s about in the bottle.

In this case, I’d look beyond the label to the very interesting lager inside.

Jim Beauregard is a local wine and beer writer who can be reached at tastingnotesnh@aol.com


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