“Hello, beautiful.” In Hollywood’s version of teen America, that may suffice as a pick-up line between an acne-riddled, awkward turtle of a freshman and his unfathomably hot senior prom queen crush. And if you believe the right commercial, that’s enough to not only get the kiss of a lifetime but also to get punched in the face. In this world, though, both men and women can only say that to one lady, and that’s Lady Lager. I met this particular lady back during Mad Fox’s Brewers Bash for DC Beer Week, and let’s just say her flirting left me wanting oh so much more…only it took me weeks of searching until I finally found her hiding out in a Total Wine!
Gold Leaf Lager, Devils Backbone Brewing Company – @dbbrewingco (Lexington, VA)
Helles Lager, ABV 4.5%, IBU 17
Presentation: Double can pour into Maß Glass (32 oz.)
Appearance: Just as golden as advertised. Don’t let the cans fool you, they’re a bit closer to orange. Light head with mild lattice, dissipating at a normal pace. Here’s a draught pour to help compare the color:
Taste: This is how a lager should taste. You could convince me that there’s a smidgen of maple in here, and Devils Backbone humblebrags that its GABF Gold Medal (2009, 2010), Silver (2013), and Bronze (2012) winner has only “subtle, bready malt flavors.” With that in mind, you can find a hint of what’s almost gingerbread at the very back of the nose/front of the tongue. I gave them high marks on the Striped Bass Pale Ale precisely because they tried to perfect the profile of that particular style, and the same goes here: if you want hop forward, bitter, floral, fruity, or whatever is trending in the dark abyss of the brewer’s mind these days, look elsewhere. This is a beer that is done right, which means you spend your time enjoying what’s not there, which is distraction.
ABV/IBU: It fits the profile of a “light” lager. Have one before dinner, while grilling out, tailgating, or any of a hundred activities where a few hours later you suddenly realize you ran out of beer.
Overall: I went to my one DC Beer Week activity hoping to find a few new items. What I didn’t expect was for Devils Backbone to pull yet another masterpiece out (joining the Vienna Lager and Striped Bass). As with some of the other foundations of Virginia’s beer empire, the Gold Leaf Lager deserved every word of praise you find on it. This is, simply, good beer. Which is why I’m having two at once.