Review: Leinenkugel’s Canoe Paddler

Ho, boy.

Leinie’s has always been a favorite of ine, even after they were purchased by a mega-conglomerate. They were given a lot of leeway to do things “the Leinie way.”

When they “retired” Fireside Nut Brown — which, to that point, was my favorite Leinie’s brew — I was very skeptical. Fortunately, the replacement — Snowdrift Vanilla Porter — is easily a top five beer for me.

I’ve just heard that they are retiring another of my favorites — the Classic Amber. I’m not sure if the Canoe Paddler is going to be the official replacement or not, but if so, it’s not going to ease my irritation the way Snowdrift did.

Canoe Paddler is a kolsch-style beer with rye.

Sort of.

Kolsch is a warm-fermented beer that is a straw-colored, very clear. So far, so good — this beer is pale golden and you could easily read a playing card through it. In fact, right now I’m looking through it at Valentine, my daughter’s stuffed monkey. It’s supposed to be notably hoppy, although not horrendously bitter. Here, it starts missing on style points a bit. It’s kind of hoppy, if I’m thinking about it, but the malts come through more strongly than I would expect from a kolsch. In fact, it’s a bit fruity, with some banana esters that I associate much more with hefeweizen than with kolsch. I had to do a little research and I found that this can happen sometimes if there is a problem with the yeast, although typically the beer won’t be as clear as this was, so I can’t begin to guess what the problem is. Maybe it’s a feature, not a bug.

In addition, I don’t taste the rye. At all.

So, in terms of tasting as advertised, I’m giving it a score of three out of ten on a scale I’ve never used before, just made up, and probably won’t use again.

On the other hand, I don’t tend to judge my beers based on accuracy. I judge them based on whether or not I want to drink them again.

As I mentioned, there’s a surprising amount of fruitiness in the nose and in the taste; there’s also a hint of clove and a sweetness that I associate with chai, although without the rest of the chai flavors. (Yeah, it’s hard to explain.)

The body of the beer is average — thicker than water, but it’s not a “meal beer.” In fact, I think of this sort of as a session beer — you could drink several of these (while eating) in an evening without an issue (as long as you’re not driving anywhere, people, come on).

There’s not much to say about the taste. It’s definitely my least favorite Leinenkugel’s offering that I’ve ever had, but on the other hand that doesn’t mean that I dislike it. I enjoy it and I’d gladly have it with a chicken or pork dish, or even maybe a fish entree if it were a mild enough fish with some deep herb/spice flavors. So while accuracy might have been three out of ten, general tastiness is probably a six-point-five to seven. It’s good. Just not great.

And it’s no Classic Amber.

Not that I think you’re listening, Leinenkugel’s, but if this is the direction you’re going, you’re on notice; I may rescind my Facebook “like.”

(OoooOOOOOoooooh. Wussy BURN.)

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