Review Date 5/12/2003
can be very strange. It was for me this past Saturday when I was walking
through Harry’s Market in Marietta, Georgia doing the weekly grocery
shopping with my beloved Barbara. We were in the meats area, and hadn’t yet
hit the beers section. I was thinking to myself that it would be nice to
find a new beer or two to sample when, not paying attention to where I was
going, I almost collided with a pallet full of Lamar St. Pale Ale.
Not seeing a genie around, I had to chalk up this remarkable coincidence to pure luck. The beer looked interesting, and at first I thought it might be a new local micro. Upon examining a six-pack, I soon discovered that the beer is in fact a house brand for the Whole Foods gourmet organic supermarket chain. Harry’s Market is part of the Whole Foods Company, which was founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas. The very first store was located on Lamar Street, hence the name of the beer. Today, Whole Foods operates more than 140 stores nationwide. If there is one near you, make sure to pick up a six-pack of Lamar St. Ale.
So who brews the beer for Whole Foods? In the past, Lamar St. was made by California’s North Coast Brewing Company. It still may be in some areas, since it is quite possible that Whole Foods maintains agreements with different brewers in various parts of the country for obvious logistical regions. The beer I purchased was brewed by the Goose Island Brewing Company. Goose Island operates a brewpub and microbrewery in Chicago, Illinois, and is a very well respected craft brewery. As soon as I saw the Goose Island name on the package, I knew I was in for some seriously good beer.
Lamar St. Pale Ale made its debut in 1999. As you might expect, it is a certified organic ale, made with only organically grown barley and hops. I really don’t think this has any impact on the flavor of the beer, but if you are a consumer that prefers organically produced food, this Lamar St.’s for you.
Lamar St. Pale Ale pours to a hazy orange amber color with a medium head formation and a chewy caramel nose. The palate is very robust with lots of rich sweet chewy malt and an intense camel flavor. There’s a touch of fruit here too followed by a citric-hoppy finish that suggests fresh oranges. A subtle hop bitterness lingers on the tongue and tries to balance out the big malt sweetness, but it’s a losing battle and the finish leans slightly to the sweet side.
What a wonderful pale ale. It’s a typical Goose Island beer, full of flavor and bursting with malt and hops. Though it’s not really in the English style, I enjoyed Lamar St. with an old pub favorite all the same: a plate of Harry’s store-made bangers and a side of mashed potatoes.
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.