“I know SOMETHING interesting is sure to happen whenever I eat or drink anything; so I’ll just see what this bottle does.” – Alice, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Old Dominion Brewery has been on a tear lately. They’ve been steadily introducing a new line of beers, their 22oz “bomber girls” series, which comprised of a Farmhouse, a double IPA and an Expresso Stout (with their pin-up inspired labels); and these were so well received that two of them (Double D IPA, Morning Glory Expresso Stout) have made their way into regular 12oz offerings, and I hear Gigi Farmhouse may receive a similar repackaging. So when I heard that they were also going with the previously keg-only Cherry Blossom Lager as their Spring seasonal in 12oz bottles, I was hoping this was going to be another solid, flavorful beer in line with these other recent beers that have come out of the brewery. On the other hand it is a Cherry Lager, so how much boldness did I had a right to expect was uncertain. Did I get what I want? Let’s taste.
THEM: When I initially started working on this review, there was much info on this beer. It wasn’t even listed on their website. But that’s changed I see. The grain bill is specified, but the description does indicate that Perle and Tradition hops are used, and that the beer clocks in at 5.2% ABV. What puts the “cherry” in Cherry Lager is a 48 hour conditioning on 300lbs of Michigan cherries. The website describes it as “delightfully effervescent, blushing, and tart and resembles a cherry champagne”.
ME: Ok, first let me say I love the packaging. The artwork and presentation are a nod to Lewis Carroll, complete with the quote “We can’t help it. We’re all mad here. All the best people are”, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the tempting directions “DRINK ME” as found on the bottle in the first chapter of the novel. Second, if the first thing I say about a beer is about its packaging then that’s often not a good sign. Kind of the way Paula Abdul would start one of her American Idol critiques with, “First let me say how good you look tonight”. You just knew the “but” was coming.
“You used to be much more…”muchier.” You’ve lost your muchness.” – The Mad Hatter, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I’ll just say it – I was hoping for more from this. More what? Well let’s start with more in the aroma. The nose on this is so light to me, that I poured a second one into a different glass just hoping to pull something more out of it. Didn’t help. The faint aroma of malt reminds me of wort boiling on the stove, and what cherries I get aren’t exactly jumping out of the glass. The flavor? Again, light malt, light cherry, nothing overly complex. The hops aren’t overly apparent, if in fact you can pull them out at all. Tracey took a sip and said, “apple juice”. Not exactly right, but I could kind of see where she was coming from. The ending has an oh-so touch of tartness to it, but all in all it’s a pretty tame finish. Not bad, but I was hoping for more. And it didn’t even have to be “muchier”, just a couple of notches would have been nice.
“Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.” – Tweedledee, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
But in fairness (and the slight bit of logic I allow to creep into this blog) this review should be about what the beer is, not what I want it to be. And this isn’t a bad beer. It’s competently made and with its subtle but still apparent malt backbone, it definitely isn’t a lager in the “American Adjunct” style. The cherries are balanced right where I think they should be with the level of malt/hops, if you raised them up higher you’d run the risk of it turning into one of those overly cloying fruit beers. Cherry champagne? I suppose, but I like Brut champagne so that analogy doesn’t really work for me even though the beer does have a nice bit of carbonation to it.
“However, this bottle was not marked “poison,” so Alice ventured to taste it, and, finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast), she very soon finished it off.” – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
I’m sure a lot of Old Dominion fans will like this beer. It may do well now that the thermometer is starting to climb into the 70’s here in Delaware and more people begin looking for the light, easy drinking beers of spring. But it just wasn’t my bottle of choice.
Time for another beer.