Do they still make them like they used to?: Louie’s Reserve Scotch Ale

16 Nov
Louie's Reserve

Everything tastes better in a Schlitz chalice. Did people really drink Schlitz out of chalices? That's baller.

I’ve made well-known my affinity (and I’m not alone here) for Arena, WI’s own Lake Louie Brewing Company and their stable of well-made, no-nonsense ales.  They just so happen to brew one of the first beers that really blew my mind as I entered the world of craft beer in college.  An amped-up version of the already-formidable Warped Speed Scotch Ale, Tom Porter’s Louie’s Reserve (affectionately referred to as Liquid Reefer in its early days for the strength of its effect on its imbiber) showed impressive balance for the depth of flavor present.  My initial review from beeradvocate, circa 2005:

Pours a dark garnet/mahogany with a finger and a half of khaki head that fades to a whispy coating, Nose is phenomenal: barrel-aged bourbon, warm vanilla, chocolate-covered cherries, smokey caramel. Just amazing. Taste is just as complex and warm as the nose: a hearty caramel malt backbone smothered in woody vanilla ice cream, sweet cherries, chocolate caramels, a light floral hop bite for balance and a healthy warming alcohol that spreads quickly throughout your chest. Body is velvety smooth and creamier than cream, yet insanely drinkable. This really seems like a barrel-aged scotch here, sublimely mellow yet incredibly complex. This is Warped Speed’s sophisticated, elegant, well-traveled big brother. If you can find it, get it. The most refined beer I’ve had to date.

Was I giddy as a school-girl or what?  Hyperbole aside, it really was a beer that opened my mind to the complexity possible from humble malts and hops. Unfortunately, future batches of this very-limited-release fall seasonal failed to live up to the first blush.  Brewery-admitted problems with fermentation led to some metallic off-flavors and a harsher overall experience in the next year’s batch and subsequent batches never seemed to capture the magic of the initial sampling.  Was part of this a matter of my palate maturing and tastes changing?  Quite likely.  Regardless, I always try to pick up a bottle or two a year to see if that special experience can be recreated.

Beer: Lake Louie Louie’s Reserve Scotch Ale

Style: Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy

Vitals: 9.0% abv

Description: “A bolder version of our Warped Speed Scotch Ale. Truly one of the finest Scotch Style Ales available on the planet. VERY LIMITED SUPPLY.”

My take (2): The malt complexity is still there.  Rich caramels.  Brandy-soaked fruits.  New is an increased hops presence that, perhaps puts up a stronger fight to combat the malt sweetness, but in my opinion sullies the subtle balance present in earlier batches and accounts for the “harsher” overall impression of later batches.  Still, this is a wonderful beer that was just made for late autumn sipping with its rich malt depth and warming alcohol content.  The  2009 vintage is certainly the closest they’ve been to the 2005 in my opinion and I’m glad to see their heading in the right direction.  Do yourself a favor and pick some up while it lasts, which is never very long.  Go on now.

One Response to “Do they still make them like they used to?: Louie’s Reserve Scotch Ale”

  1. Jolly Rodger October 4, 2011 at 5:18 AM #

    That glass is very dirty.

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