Tasting: February 17, 2013
Style: Imperial IPA
Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland produces an awesome IPA called Commodore Perry. The slogan of the bottles reads “don’t give up the sip” which is a play on the words found on Commodore Perry’s battle flag insignia — “don’t give up the ship”. The phrase is a tribute to Perry’s friend and fellow naval officer, Captain James Lawrence. Lawrence uttered these orders after being wounded by small arms fire while commanding the USS Chesapeake in the War of 1812. His ship was captured and he ultimately died while his ship was being transported to Nova Scotia by the enemy British navy. The slogan and the battle flag are a significant piece of US Naval history.
Being a naval legend has its rewards and Lawrence has been honored with landmarks, towns and counties bearing his name. There are ten counties in the United States named for the naval captain. Lawrence Township in his home state of New Jersey is named for the captain as is an elementary school in his home town of Burlington, NJ. There is a street located in South Salem, NY named Captain Lawrence Drive, however the naval legend can’t lay claim to this landmark — the honor belongs to Captain Samuel Lawrence. This Captain Lawrence was a leader of the Westchester Militia and fought in New England during the American Revolutionary War. This Captain Lawrence is buried a short distance from the street that bears his name. Brewery owner Scott Vaccaro grew up on Captain Lawrence Drive and it is an easy connection to the name of his Elmsford, NY brewery.
Despite the proximity to New Jersey, this is a new label on our shelves. The brewery is just six years old and like many others, they made a leap in their brewing capacity just two years ago moving from a 20 barrel system to a 40 barrel system. This one is the IPA reserve and it checks in at a healthy 80 IBU and although the ABV isn’t reported on the bottle or on their website – others place it between 8% – 9%. That’s right where you’d expect an imperial. One other thing, this was only $3.99 for the 16.9 ounce bottle. That’s a very reasonable price point in an inflationary market.
Pours a rich amber and has a nice sweet fruit aroma. Right off the bat, this is more of the elegant imperial IPA, very smooth with an escalating hop bitterness and a crisp dry finish. More resinous pine than fruit or sweet flavors. At first, that robust alcohol is hidden, but it rears up aggressively as I work my way through the bottle. Mouthfeel is quite nice — oily. This one may have started off elegant, but it circles into chaos in no time. If you’re like me and enjoy west coast style IPAs — this one is for you. 91 points.