Beer Review 0043: Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55

Glance at your calendar and check what time of year it is. Yes, that’s right… and I figured it no more appropriate than to review this Brooklyn Brewery beer that right here in the middle of baseball playoff season.

Brewed in honor of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers World Series championship season, this beer is a traditional English-style pale ale with a brisk malt character balanced by some hops. “Pale ale” got its name because it appeared lighter than traditional darker styles back in the day.

Brooklyn Brewery is the first successful commercial brewery located in New York City since Schaefer & Rheingold closed in 1976. Founded by Associated Press writer Steve Hindy and banker Tom Porter, they both quit their day jobs to make the beer dream a reality.

I’m expecting this beer to pair nicely with an evening of baseball on the television, or imagining myself there in the stadium with a bag of peanuts and scorecard in lap… or, even better, fantasizing about my beloved Chicago Cubs actually making the playoffs. Ahh, but that is another story for another time, and let’s not taint this review with any bad luck or superstition.

The pour produced an amber beer topped with an average sized but quickly fading soda pop style fizzy head. The color is very nice, almost like dark honey with golden yellow highlights near the bottom of the glass. The body of the drink is cloudy but there are no particles or sediment, and there were sparse pods of lacing adorning the glass here and there.

The aromatics featured almost no hops except a faint floral scent; the malts were the prize to be had here as they were dominant but mellow. The complexity was nice — there were initial hints of caramel and chocolate with a light grainy smell and some toasted notes. I found the aroma to be nutty and almost bready; while being light, this was quite nice and unexpected.

Pennant Ale ’55 greets the taste buds with an unidentified fruit. Think along the lines of a sour tropical pear. On the neck of the bottle, it mentions the “house ale yeast” is responsible for the fruit. The finish is not unpleasantly sour but it is tangy, with some of those toasted malts and almost burned biscuit.

This beer is very easy to drink and quite refreshing but the overall flavors are a disappointment in terms of duration and body. This is a very light beer, which I suppose makes sense if you are going to drink multiples of these during a baseball game (and presumably using it to wash down hotdogs and the like) but honestly I could think of several other beers that are only good for that purpose that I would pick before this one.

That being said, I did appreciate this beer and found it to be a nice change of pace and enjoyable. I like the sour notes, and this one isn’t so sour that it becomes nasty and unpleasant to drink. I recommend you try this, but know going in that you’re probably either going to love it or hate it. Sour flavors in beer tend to be deal-breakers for many people.

Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55, 74 points. Price: $1.79 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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