Friday, August 01, 2014
Lowdown Brewery + Kitchen, which is just reaching six months of age, has everything a brewery seemingly could want. It's got a killer location, complete with patio at 800 Lincoln Street. It has a food menu chock full of locally raised produce. And it has two industry veterans at the helm of its beer program.
But then you taste the beer. And while the fair-sized menu is not low-brow, the offerings on it could might best be described as "lowest common denominator."
Of the nine beers the Fearless Tasting Crew had on a recent visit, none were awful. Many were brewed to style. But it was not until the very last tasting on the sampler tray — of the chocolaty and sweet Sherwood Porter — that you really felt any gusto, any creativity, any special attributes to the taste of the beer.
Over and over, we wished for more flavor. Sure, maybe you're not going to expect knock-your-socks-off mouthfeel from the Patio Pounding Pilz or the Whil Wheaton — to to that end, the two lighter-bodied beers didn't disappoint. But the sentiment of wishing for more continued throughout the menu.
The Lowdown IPA, for example has a full bitter taste, but without any particular citrus or grass characteristics —just bitterness. The Boxer India Red Ale has bitterness that's almost overshadowed by hops, but no sweetness or stand-out personality. The Belgian dubbel, Two Times a Lady, is light-bodied, lacking in both the candied sugar and esters you might expect. Eventually, you find yourself sipping, nodding and then just wishing that the brewers took more chances with their recipes.
Selfish — a pale ale with pilsner malt — gives a hint of what those chances might produce, as it introduces tastes of passion fruit and muted citrus but leaves your palate a little too quickly to be memorable. It's really just the robust porter, with hints of both chocolate and caramel, that makes you smile with appreciation. But then, unfortunately, you realize you've just run the entire menu.
There is no doubt that the former Rock Bottom brewers who opened Lowdown know what they're doing from a business perspective. One can just hope, though, that now that they are established, they can throw a few curve balls into an otherwise staid beer menu.