encouraged when I see one of the big boys of the brewing world introducing
an attempt at a craft beer. That really means something to those of us who
enjoy craft brewed beers, and see them as an art form just as fine wine or
gourmet cooking can be. It means that the tiny segment of the market made up
by microbrews and imports is having an impact, and that the big guys see at
least some potential profit in entering that segment.
After all, beer sales have been relatively flat in recent years, and the
only growth segment is in craft beer. And the figures there aren’t exciting
either, but we’ll take what we can get. Still, the big brewers see the
success of Sam Adams and Saranac and want a piece of the action. The latest
attempt to cash in on that market is JW Dundee’s American Pale Ale.
The beer is brewed by the Highfalls Brewing Company of Rochester, New York,
best known for the JW Dundee Honey Brown Lager and Genesee brands.
Highfalls isn’t the first to take a stab at craft brewing, and they
certainly won’t be the last. Those of us with a sense of beer history may
fondly recall Miller’s surprisingly good Reserve Velvet Stout and
Reserve Amber Ale. Anheuser-Busch countered with Elk Mountain Amber
and Anheuser-Busch Special Christmas Brew.. Some years later, Latrobe
Brewing of Rolling Rock fame outdid them all with a hoppy American pale ale,
a spicy Bohemian Pilsner, and a smooth and creamy and well made all around
Black Bavarian. A bock under the Rolling Rock name was less exciting, though
still worth mentioning.
And now it is the turn of Highfalls. Their American Pale Ale is packaged
attractively enough, in a shiny brown glass bottle with a smart-looking
plastic decal label. The beer itself is brewed with an impressive hop bill:
Tomahawks, Amarillos, and the ubiquitous Cascade. A surprisingly high 35
IBUs of bitterness are a result. For malt, pale and caramel are used.
Alcohol is 5.3% by volume, about average.
When I popped the cap off my first bottle of JW Dundee’s American Pale
Ale, my nose was greeted with a nice little whiff of piney Cascade hops.
The beer poured to a deep orange amber color, and a thick creamy head
quickly formed atop the liquid. A fine layer of Brussels lace followed the
brew all the way down the glass.
The body of the beer has a good solid, slightly chewy malt character. When I
say chewy regarding a liquid, of course, I’m referring to the slightly thick
mouthfeel of the beer. There are notes of caramel in the body and some spicy
hop notes, too. In the finish, a generous amount of grassy bitterness
emerges and lingers on the tongue.
Overall, this is a pretty good effort, though I would like to see a bit more
hop aroma and flavor. Still, this is a step on the right path.
Will we be seeing more beers like this from Highfalls? Possibly. In addition
to the American Pale Ale, there’s an American Amber already on the shelves,
and a survey on their website asks visitors to suggest other classic styles
they’d like to see from the brewer in the future.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update.
For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.