On the second day of my vacation I stopped in at Great Basin Brewing Co.’s Sparks, Nevada location to try some of their beers. Since I didn’t want to drink too much or stay too long I decided to just get a sampler. They let you choose your own beers so I picked 6 beers that spanned the gamut of their offerings. One of my six picks was tapped out, so I just went with five instead.
Limited brew created for The Great Reno Balloon Race. An iconic event deserves an iconic brew. Awaken your senses with this crisp, effervescent pale ale featuring subtle hop notes and the light, refreshing taste of summer. (A.B.V., 5.0%)
Pours a clear gold with a filmy head. Splashes of lacing along the glass.
Nose is very muted with mild hard water/sulphur notes and hints of earthiness. Smells similar to a British Pale Ale.
Taste is just as mild, with hints of sweet toffee and grassy hops.
Mouthfeel is light and smooth.
Easy drinking, but not at all what I’ve come to expect from a pale ale.
Overall: 5.5 out of 10
As a PALE ALE: 4 out of 10
2. BLACK EYE P.A.
A new spin on an old style. This deceptively dark beer has only a slight roast flavor complimenting the caramel malt and citrus hop flavor expected of an India Pale Ale. (A.B.V., 7.0%)
The beer poured a dark brown, almost black color. Head was a creamy brown.
Nose was dark roasted malts with a touch of medicinal hops.
Taste starts with dark roasted malts with a touch of coffee. It ends with just a smidgen of earthy/medicinal hops and a sweet raisin flavor.
Mouthfeel was medium and slightly creamy.
This tasted like a hoppy porter, which isn’t a bad thing. I wish the hops were a little more pronounced, but it wasn’t as unbalanced as some black IPAs I’ve had.
Overall: 6.5 out of 10
As a BLACK IPA: 6 out of 10
3. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL
Our dark and mysterious lager represents the German answer to an English Porter. German roasted barley flavors round out the softer imported pilsner malts to bring a truly remarkable balance. (A.B.V. 4.4%)
Pours a dark brown with regular brown highlights. Head is a ring of tan that sticks around for the duration.
Nose is a touch of roasted malts with a heavy caramel/toffee sweetness.
The toffee comes back big in the taste with just a touch of roastiness to change things up. But that’s about it.
Mouthfeel is lighter than expected and almost watery. It leaves an aftertaste that reminded me of drinking hard water.
This was not my favorite. I expect more roastiness from a schwarzbier and there really wasn’t any. It was basically a dark amber ale.
Overall: 4 out of 10
As a SCHWARZBIER: 3 out of 10
4. GONE TO HELLES
This golden lager (in German “hell” means “clear” or “light-colored”) is the most popular style in German beer halls – well balanced, malt accented. (A.B.V., 5.5%)
Pours a clear yellow with a bunch of very busy bubbles. Head is a ring of white bubbles that were constantly popping.
The nose was practically nonexistent. Seriously.
The taste was full of cream corn and butter.
Mouthfeel is bubbly and light.
I’m not the biggest lager guy and I won’t admit to being on expert on Helles lagers, but I have to think that the buttery cream corn flavor wasn’t completely intentional. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever tasted in a beer, but drinking more than a 4 oz. taster might have been difficult.
Overall: 4 out of 10
As a HELLES LAGER: ???
5. WILD HORSE ALE
This award-winning amber ale is guaranteed to tame your wild thirst. Wild Horse is brewed in the German “Alt” tradition. It gets its malty, rich and complex flavor from a blend of five malts. A two-time Bronze Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival. (A.B.V., 4.8%)
Pours a mahogany/garnet color. Head is a filmy off-white.
Nose was sweet with notes of caramel and raisin/fig.
Taste isn’t bad. It reminded me of cereal malts with a touch of caramel sweetness.
Not a bad beer, but nothing really stood out in the flavor. This would make a good session beer, but it’s nothing to crow about.
Overall: 5.5 out of 10
As a ALTBIER: 5 out of 10
Overall, the Great Basin beers tasted like microbrews made for macrobrew fans. Nothing really stood out or showed any ingenuity or risk taking. As I was there sampling there beers a large group of elderly US military veterans came in for lunch and it struck me that they might be the type of people who would enjoy Great Basin’s output.