So it’s happened. It has finally happened. The final inch of hell is frozen over and Lagunitas has finally canned.
To their credit, the stated reason they avoided canning was largely for ecological reasons, citing the use of bauxite and silica, which are both minerals used in the production of aluminum and the environmental and social impacts that the mining of said mineral had on the planet and the peoples who inhabited the areas it was mined in. From the diesel used and carbon emissions emitted in the process of extracting such, as well as the fact that such is so often mined in already impoverished and at risk areas of the world who desperately need clean drinking water and air, there are no shortage of earnest arguments against canning. In this, I admire Lagunitas and owner Tony McGee for taking such ardent and honest stances.
However for some reason now, the time has apparently come to where the Petaluma based brewery has bowed to market demands and decided to offer a canned beer, this being the “12th of Never.” Branded a “hop forward” ale, the beer pours with the pale golden color expected of so many a pale ale and retains just enough head for you to know it’s there. However from my own perspective at least, this is where the appreciable nature of the thing more or less ends.
At a smell, the nose is not entirely pleasant. Though presenting a hoppy demeanor to it, it offers up the sort of unpleasant off notes and bitterness usually associated with more catty or dirty brews from less skilled or experienced breweries. This unnatural sort of scent is then mirrored rather directly in the flavor profiles presented in the sip.
In our sip, we find that while drinkable and flavorful, possessing some notes of grassy and citrusy hops, there remains an almost metallic and undesirable flavor lying beneath it all. Unsure if this is meant to be an intentional criticism of canning itself, I find myself pondering if something perhaps went outright wrong with this beer in its travels from brewery to glass, or if it simply just isn’t that good. This in and of itself sort of distresses me to be honest.
Lagunitas is a brewery I both respect and want to respect. Having proven thoroughly that they know how to make a fantastic beer, the last few releases from them, with the exception of the Lucky 13, have let me down significantly. Though tempted to blame this on their partnership with Heineken, known for making what at best can be described as a “typically cold beverage,” I find in this brew, as with the Aunt Sally that either there is simply too much interest in trying daring yet failing things with their releases, or alternately maybe just don’t care as much.
Perhaps I’m being harsh and perhaps this is a brew which may appeal to palates different than my own. But even in the finish and well after such, a lingering metallic unpleasantness remains. At 5.5% ABV, it even lacks the booziness required to give it the fringe benefit of aggressive intoxication. I love you Lagunitas, I really do. But in this beer, not even the description of “pale, bitter and alcoholic,” though mirroring myself well, is enough to really make it something I find all that noteworthy.
So for this, it is to Tony, to Lagunitas, to the hopes of seeing a return to big bold and dynamic beers and of course to you, that I say as always…
While the brand may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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