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If you're thinking of joining a beer of the month club you've found the right place. Each month we review a beer of the month club shipment to give you an idea of what you really get. This month Gourmet Monthly Clubs sends us Granite City Brewing Company from Minnesota and an old reliable of our from road trips, Lancaster Brewing Company from Pennsylvania.

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Granite City Brewing Company

Granite City Brewing Company Duke of Wellington Pale Ale & Brother Benedict BockDuke of Wellington Pale Ale

Some pale ales pour as their name would lead you to believe, and some pour darker. This is the latter, as it pours a rusty orange color. Clear as day with a tan head, as you watch the foam recede you’ll notice lacing that many find to be a mark of a good brew.

The nose is a fairly strong blend of both malts and hops that leads me to believe that, while this is labelled a pale ale, it’s more of an IPA. The smell is truly interesting for the style as their is a good dose of citrus from the hops, but it’s almost kaffir lime more than anything. That said, it’s not a citrus bomb and some good whole grain bread comes through as well.

This is a great example of how IBUs don’t tell the whole story of bitterness. Normally 64 IBUs in a 5.3% abv beer would be super bitter, but this has enough malt to balance it. While the bitterness is there, the main characteristic of the hops that comes through in the taste is that lime flavor I mentioned above. I’ve never tasted this flavor before in an IPA and I like it! The finish has a good minerality to it, which makes you perceive an extreme dryness. That makes this one a brew that I could drink multiples of, between a solid amount of flavor and the finish it’d be great to keep coming back to.

Brother Benedict’s Bock

With a pour that looks as garnet as it does brown, there’s no question that this one is a bock! A head the color of unpasteurized whipped cream settles to almost nothing with a thicker bit on the outside ring.

As I’d expect, and hope, for a bock Brother Benedict’s smells sweet and malty. It’s a clean aroma, there’s some mild dark fruit but not much else. There’s some dark bread in there, almost pumpernickely, but not quite.

Just as with the smell, this tastes the way a bock should. Some are oversweet, but this is simply malt-centric with a clean palate. It’s bready and dark, not roasty or bitter, but dark like a nice, robust, hearty brown bread. Often I find bocks tough to drink more than one of, but because of the balance in this one, I could keep going for quite a while. The malt character is really well done and the beer finishes dry enough to keep you coming back.

Lancaster Brewing Company

Lancaster Brewing Company Milk Stout & Amish Four Grain Pale AleMilk Stout

Lancaster Milk Stout is one of those beers we’re never sorry to see! Ever since we first tried it in Pennsylvania on a road trip that took us down the East Coast, it’s been one we can’t get but thoroughly enjoy. We actually reviewed it from over three years ago, so you can check it out there, but trust me it’s really good!

Amish Four Grain Pale Ale

A deep, rich near-orange amber and crystal clear, this is a brew you’d expect to have a little something something to it if it had anything at all. A slightly off-white head adorns the top, but quickly fades into a thin film, hiding what lies beneath.

There’s a nice toastiness on the nose. A lot of American pale ales have been the victims of hop creep and now smell (and taste) near indistinguishable from IPAs. Not this one! You can definitely smell a bit of the spicy rye and dry, minerally wheat that Lancaster threw into the mash on this brew. This grain bill compliments the spicy hop notes very well.

Forget how is looks, though...and even partially how it smells (although smell and taste are very strongly intertwined)...the most important part of any beer is the taste! And this is one you’re going to want to try. The body of this beer is full and almost slick, most likely due to the rye and oats. The wheat is there with it’s characteristic near-chalky finish, which works well. There’s enough carbonation to counteract the rye/oat slick, though, and it also helps the hops to come out a bit. The bitterness is extremely balanced and the earthy, spicy English hops play nice with the rye as well as the malt forward character of the barley.