The more you understand something, the more appreciation you have. At least that’s my general feeling. With beer, it often goes the same way. Yesterday, I had the absolute pleasure of a personalized tour, meal and tasting at Emmett’s Ale House in Palatine, IL. I will, in further detail, describe more of the tour, setting, meal and history of the fantastic local brewery, but this review is solely about one of their fine, hand-crafted brews.

The 1871 Lager is brewed with a pre-prohibition style in mind. It is brewed with some adjuncts, however, instead of becoming more inexpensive to produce and a weaker, less well-built brew, it gives it a more true-to-style portrayal of a lager created in the days before prohibition.

Onto the beer. I poured fairly quickly into my Spiegelau lager glass and the result was a fleeting one and a half finger head. A brilliant off-white, the head, despite being constantly bouyed by bubbles of carbonation, dwindled to a thin, sporadic layer of froth. The beer itself was a completely translucent golden, deeper than ‘straw-colored,’ it had oranges and browns around the edges. The scent was different than any other beer I’ve enjoyed. It was a sweet, grainy scent, mixed with lemon and a balsamic vinegar hint. My first swig was more intense than I predicted, and much more complex. After swallowing, the initial taste was the grains that I picked up on the nose. A slight bitterness was present and hints of grass and a few indistinguishable spices. The finish was particularly coating for a lager, with a doughy taste that lingered.

Oddly, while this beer didn’t have any stand out characteristics, it was textured enough to be interesting, to keep me coming back sip after sip. As I mentioned, the light color is misleading, it is a much more meaty, heavy beer than it appears.