BROOKLYN LOCAL 1

An unabashed homer for NYC, Magnus loved to point to Brooklyn Brewery as one of the top ale factories in the nation. And who were we to argue? Brooklyn’s been around since ’94 and produces great offering like the Black OPS (Russian Imperial Stout), Black Chocolate Stout, Sorachi Ace (Saison), and Monster (Barleywine). We discussed Brooklyn at length during our Beers of New York podcast and Brother Barley returned Aleheads.com to Tasting Notes after Magnus’ passing with a heartfelt review of one of his favorites, the Local 2. It is an example of an accessible Belgian Strong Dark Ale, and Magnus was just starting to appreciate the idiosyncrasies of Belgian styles, so the L2 and it’s Belgian Strong Golden sibling the Local 1 were perfect jumping off points into what should have been a longer lifelong love of Belgian Strong Ales. Again, it should be Magnus writing this one- but if wishes and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas. So I cracked a bomber of this to ward off the holiday hangover and enjoyed one of his favorite beers.

There is very little local about the Local 1- Brooklyn spanned the globe and spared no expense for this ambitious prestige selection. Like the city itself, it’s a melting pot of ingredients and influences. Belgian Strong Golden Ales were developed by Moortgat with it’s flagship Duvel in a response to the rising popularity of pale and light-bodied Pilsner lagers throughout Europe. Brooklyn uses German malt and Hops, Mauritian sugar, Belgian yeast, and like Duvel the Local 1 is bottle fermented in awesome looking custom bottles adorned with FDNY inspired iconography.

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NOTES: Inlaws’ Grill, Tap, and Flophouse

STYLE: Belgian Strong Golden Ale

ABV: 9%

APPEARANCE: Light yellow with a very slight hazy cast; truth be told from a distance, it resembles your everyday American Lager.

HEAD: Well carbonated, the cork comes out with a satisfying pop that scares the cat. Puffy off-white foam pours to four fingers, dissipating slowly.

LACING: Really nice fluffy lacing that clings to the original line of demarcation in gobs.

NOSE: Some mild fruity esters like pears and apples, Belgian yeast I can find no other way to describe but funky (for the love of God please leave a suggestion in the comments. If I can’t come up with another descriptor I might bash myself with said Bomber). Also fresh bread and perhaps a little peppery spice. If I have a criticism for this beer, it’s that the nose is rather weak.

TASTE: Delicious; in many ways resembles a Trippel with sweet apple and banana. Malt profile very subdued. Satisfying wafts of alcohol on the finish. There’s some spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and a little floral hops. I like the dry finish which brings to mind a refreshing saison or farmhouse ale.

DRINKABILITY: Frankly, it’s off the charts for 9% ABV Belgian Strong. Very smooth, mild, and well balanced. On the other hand, perhaps you don’t want your high ABV prestige offering to be this drinkable. It lacks the challenge, complexity, and yeasty quirkiness of competitors… still, a nice offering from Brooklyn. Pick one up and toast the fallen hero of your choice today. You won’t be disappointed.

RATING: 3.5 Hops

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6 comments

  1. Your post reads a lot like the Belgian Strong Pale Ale version of the Local 2 Tasting Note. Absurdly drinkable, well-crafted, but a touch less complex and “big” as other offerings in the style. Brooklyn’s approach seems to be to create tamer, easier-sippin’ versions of classic Belgian styles for Americans looking for a balance between Belgian character and American “drinkability” (a word we clearly invented). I have no problem with that approach and I think both Locals are great every-day brews…

  2. That’s because I cut and pasted your review and change “Dark” to “Pale” or “Golden”. Other than that, it’s word-for-word. Surprised you didn’t notice.

  3. Slouch, here’s your Belgian Yeast descriptors. Please don’t let this sway you from clunking yourself over the head with the bottle though.

    Esters – Banana and/or spiciness (Or apples and pears like you mentioned). The banana really isn’t present in this beer, but Belgian yeast strains love to give off lots of fruity esters
    Phenols – Clove and/or spiciness
    Lactic Acid – Sourness

    Usually, and I use that word very loosely, brewers will ferment at a higher temperature when using Belgian yeast strains. Saison Dupont for example ferments at a ridiculous 90 degrees or so, which is crazy when you consider that most Ales ferment in the 65 to 70 range. High fermentation temps can create a lot of the “Yeasty” flavors you’re experiencing. Don’t be afraid to use Belgian Funk or Yeastiness in your description. We’ll all know what you mean.

    In the end, just might want to just use the term Horse Blanket when you’re describing anything Belgian. It’s like the Eucalyptus of the wine world. Unless you’re a horse or a koala, chances are you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

  4. I was a little let down by this beer, I expected more.
    I’d been holding on to it for about 1 year and when I finally got round to cracking it open I found it a little uninspiring. It’s just not that special, you could easily find 10 Belgian ales that do this style and do it better.

    Its a real shame as the packaging is wonderful, a great looking custom made bottle.

  5. It’s a good point Rob, this one and the Local 2 seem almost like training wheels for Strong Ales… pleasant and accessible if you’re getting into Belgian ales, but they aren’t the high water mark for American offerings. But bottle fermenting can be a crap shoot and I’m sure Brookyln will keep tinkering.

    Really nice looking site by the way… I like the idea of doing a year end awards post- subscribed to your RSS feed. Happy New Year.

  6. The Golden Pints are something that us UK beer bloggers have been doing for a few years.
    Thanks for the compliment on the site.

    I wish I had the access to the amount of amazing beers you seem to. I’ve heard lots about Cigar City but not had any yet. A friend brought me back a bottle of their Humidor IPA when he recently visited NYC.

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