I've been to the LBC several times since the last review I posted and have consistently appreciated the beer, food, and service but, tonight, I'm posting to praise a single beer.
They call it "Winter Warmer" and, as curmudgenly traditionalist, I agree. No cinnamon, cloves, nor cherry juice here. This is a rather nice English Old Ale, 8.9% abv, and all.
Clear, mahogany and with little head (high alcohol does that). Slightly vinous.
It smells of malt, the earth, and the cellar. There is a little hop aroma but, as expected, not much.
It feels "pretty big" in the mouth and smooth, almost creamy. There is, of course, some alcohol warming. The flavor starts with moderately rich malt flavor but one immediately notices the esters (suggesting a quite warm fermentation), lots of esters. Interestingly, for all of that malt, it quite a dry beer, suggesting a very careful use of non-fermentable malt and hops.
The finish is long and malty-and-dry with noticeable alcohol warming. All in all, an wonderful, intriguing beer.
Oh, I believe I mentioned previously that they serve their beer too cold. Low room temperature works really well for this one.
I'll start with the one negative (which they handled well): As I was not familiar with the brewery (last visit about 15 years ago to their original place), I chose the sampler. The first beer I tasted was badly infected (thin, sour, and hazy). I mentioned this to our waitress who gave us the usual hooey (nobody else has complained, the bartender tasted it and it's fine, etc) but did report it to the manager.
About 5 minutes later, the manager stopped by our table to thank me for telling them. The keg was replaced, the lines flushed, and a fresh sample brought to me. Quite tasty. (In customer service training, they teach that you don't judge a company by what they do when everything goes right but what they do when things go wrong. This was a good recovery from a problem.)
Anyway, the beers were all tasty and without apparent brewing flaws. They were served a bit too cold (certainly common enough in this country) but warmed up soon enough. To stand on its own, I found the Celtic Rose the best of the lot. With food, the Milk Stout paired superbly with the crab stuffed trout (fileted with the skin intact) and the fest was excellent with the spice-rubbed pork tenderloin.
The only clunker, from a style perspective, was a beer described as a helles using Bavarian hops. I was rather surprised at the grapefruity-ness of Cascades. Not a bad beer but still a shock to a palate expecting a German flavor.
They had 2 beers which used rye in the grain bill. The Amish Four Grain (malt, rye, oats, and wheat) was okay but had so much going on that I found it ultimately non-descript. The other (name currently escaping me) spoke of a hint of rye and was, in fact, a very good rye ale.