Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55: Exactly what it should be
Brooklyn Brewery is one of the steadfast and true American breweries. I don't think they've ever made a beer I didn't like. They do this by sticking to what real beer is and should be. They don't concoct strange and ridiculous new "styles" by throwing in unusual ingredients. They don't over-hop, over-malt or over-think the beer. They just consistently produce quality beer that tastes exactly as it should.
Brooklyn Pennant Ale is the ideal English Pale Ale. There aren't any English Pale Ales in England that are any better than this. While it goes completely against the trend of the hour in America, and pumps the malt rather than the hops, this is what beer tastes like. Sorry hop-heads.
It pours honey-colored with a medium-sized head that soon fades, leaving only some thin lacing. The aroma is on the weak side but hints at the sweet and fruity malt that dominates this ale. This is a malty beer and makes no apologies. As promised, those sweet flavors come right out front with biscuit and grape and caramel. Then, just as you think you're in for one of those over-malted, sticky messes brewed by less adept hands, the perfect amount of hops comes out right at the end to finish the whole thing off with a dry, crisp bite.
Pennant Ale is a good drinking beer. Very smooth with less carbonation, but enough body to supply some heft without bogging you down. It's appropriately named after the Boys of Summer – the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers. It tastes a bit old fashioned. I can imagine the guys in suits and hats back in Ebbets Field drinking something like this. It's definitely a good summer brew. At 5% alcohol, these can be knocked back on those long, hot days after the mowing is done. On the boat, beach, hammock....
It also goes well with all the food of summer. Hamburgers and steaks especially, but for some reason I always think of Chinese food when I have one of these. I think it would match very well with that, or spicy Thai. It is more of a laid back beer that's happy to go with the flow. Worlds better than all the rest of that watery rubbish found in those summer coolers, but without any European pretentiousness.
You can't really go wrong with anything from Brooklyn Brewery, but if the Pennant is there, that's the one I usually grab. Brooklyn beer makes beer that stays true to the particular style. If they say it's a lager – it's going to taste exactly like a lager should. The IPA is an IPA. This Pennant Ale is the benchmark English Pale Ale. They don't age it in rare rainforest wood barrels, or cram in so many hops that you feel like you're chewing a mouthful of them right off the vine. If you want science experiments, pick any one of the other micros off the rack. That's not what Brooklyn is about. You won't be getting a slice of fruit on top. Their beer isn't trendy, flashy or cool – just very good.