Way back when I first started writing for Aleheads and conducted a now totally out-of-date survey of the Chicago brewing scene, one of the places I glossed over in my haste to showcase all the big, burly ales out there was Metropolitan Brewing. Because they focus largely on classical German lager styles, they’ve just never been a place I focused much attention on. Sorry, Metropolitan guys. I know you probably don’t care much, because as I’m always reminded when I visit Chicago, there are plenty of people who are Metropolitan fans. And I’m glad that the brewery has been successful, because there are definitely places and times for traditional German beers.
Anyway. While visiting a Binny’s up in Chicago a few weeks ago, I happened to notice a selection of Metropolitan beers in a mix-a-six rack, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to give them the fair appraisal that they have no doubt deserved since the beginning. So here you go, tasting notes on three different Metropolitan brews. In the end, I was underwhelmed by one and quite impressed by two!
Metropolitan Flywheel Bright Lager
Notes: 12 oz beer poured into a Chicago Craft Beer Week pint.
ABV: 5.2%, German-style pilsner
APPEARANCE: Fizzy yellow, with a quarter inch of foam. Slightly darker than a Budweiser would be in your glass, I think—not that I would know, of course.
AROMA: Spicy hops and fresh buttered toast.
TASTE: Wow. This is surprisingly assertive. It’s actually rather rich, with caramel flavors, and kind of buttery? It does not taste like I was expecting it to, and I’m having a hard time even describing it. One thing is for certain, and it is that the hops are getting lost.
MOUTHFEEL: Surprisingly full. Meant for quaffing, but it’s just…not.
DRINKABILITY: Lower than it should be.
OVERALL: This one just didn’t do it for me. This should be the kind of beer that I could drain quickly, but instead of the crispness that I expect a pilsner to have, the strangely rich and buttery flavors were too much. Might have gotten a bad bottle here. 2 hops
Dynamo Copper Lager
NOTES: 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.
ABV: 5.8%, Vienna lager
APPEARANCE: Light orange and pretty, with a thin, quarter-inch of thin white bubbles.
AROMA: Sweet malt with a distinctly “German” aroma of Vienna or Munich malt, and a kiss of noble hops. Smells quite appetizing.
TASTE: Complex malt flavors with light caramel and munich malt flavors. Similarly “quasi-rich” malt presence as the Flywheel, but it works a lot better here and I like it a lot more. Herbal and earthy hops peek throug and keep it in balance. Very tasty indeed.
MOUTHFEEL: Light to medium. It shouldn’t be lighter than the Flywheel, but it does seem that way to me.
DRINKABILITY: Well, I downed my pint of this in about five minutes, so I’d have to say it’s pretty damn high. I would have been happy to have another.
OVERALL: For somewhat similar beers, it’s funny how much more I like this one. This beer stacks up great against German-style beers from many American breweries. Honestly, if you labeled this as the “Octoberfest” beer from just about any American brewer, I would say “This is a best-in-class example of the style.” So with that said, I have to give it 3.5 hops.
Metropolitan Krankshaft Kolsch
Notes: 12 oz bottle poured into yet another pint glass. Usually I use my tulip glasses for these kinds of posts, but hey, these are German brews and two of them are lagers, so the pints just seem fitting.
ABV: 5%, kolsch
APPEARANCE: Very pale yellow and fizzy. It would be difficult to tell the difference between this and a BMC product based on sight alone.
AROMA: Okay, you would know it wasn’t a BMC product now. Interesting aroma. I get candy-like sweetness, and a good bit of lemon zest and some flowery noble hops.
TASTE: A little bit of doughy, grainy malt flavors, and then some lemon and orange peel citrus. A tickle of herbal hops in the finish. Refreshing as hell.
MOUTHFEEL: Light and zesty.
DRINKABILITY: A guzzler. This would be a superb lawnmower beer. I can also imagine this being one of those random great beers to use to convert friends who are curious about better beer but need to tiptoe into it very slowly. Some people just can’t make the jump straight from Bud Light to enjoying a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and the next time I meet one of those people in the Chicago area, I’ll tell him to drink one of these.
OVERALL: Good stuff, if not quite what I drink on a daily basis. Still, 3 hops.
And so, thus ends my self-humbling experiment in trying something new, with the reminder that even though something is not in my typical flavor wheelhouse, it’s probably still worth a try. If you’re ever in a Chicagoland Binny’s, putting together mixed sixpacks, you ought to try them as well.