Beer Review 0132: Great Lakes Conway’s Irish Ale

This is a family beer. Great Lakes Brewing Company, located in Cleveland, Ohio, was founded by brothers Pat and Daniel Conway in 1988. At the time, there was not one single craft brewery in Cleveland — Great Lakes quickly took off.

The brewery operates today with a principle they call a “triple bottom line” — meaning they run their business engaging in responsible economic, social, and environmental practices whilst also profiting. Cheers to that! The company logo features three waves beneath it, which represents beer’s most valuable ingredient: water.

Conway’s Irish Ale is a seasonal offering (January-March) from Great Lakes, brewed to honor Patrick Conway, grandfather of the owners. Mr. Conway was a Cleveland policeman who directed traffic for 25 years near the brewery.

Keeping with the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, this beer is brewed with all natural ingredients: barley, hops, yeast, and water. Nothing more.

Clocking in at 6.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), Great Lakes says this is a “meat and potatoes” type of beer — an “all natural, locally raised meat and organic potatoes.”

The pour delivered an average to slightly large head, soapy white with a lasting quality. The beer was described on the bottle as a “ruby red ale,” but this one was as orange as orange gets. The body was clear and free of particles or sediment, and the lacing left behind each sip was of a fair amount, but not too much. This is a good looking brew.

The aromatics were fairly simple with a huge caramel malt note, very sweet and mixed with an herbal style hop that had hints of orange. Other than that, there were some earthy aromas in there, and a general sweetness that made for a pleasant nose. Not my style, but very nice, to say the least.

On the palate, you certainly get what you paid for: big caramel up front, coupled with a nice balance of herbal hops and a twist of lemon. The mouthfeel was creamy with an average carbonation tickling the tongue. This Irish Ale finishes clean and sweet with a load of caramel, leaving the taste buds refreshed and wanting more.

Conway’s Irish Ale is a solid and simple beer. The food pairings you could come up with this brew have a potential to be a thing of beauty. This would go well with just about any heavy savory dish; Sunday pot roast with carrots, potatoes, and onions, anyone? I’m not typically a fan of beers in this style, but this one is worth checking out if you see it around.

Great Lakes Conway’s Irish Ale, 88 points. Price: $1.79 for one twelve ounce bottle.

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