Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Great Lakes hits it out of the park with Dortmunder Gold

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

After the review “Dog Days Dortmunder Lager from Two Brothers” (June 18-24, 2014, issue), I would like to highlight another Dortmunder Lager. The beer is named Dortmunder Gold, and the brewery is Great Lakes.

Redundant, you say? I beg to differ, as this style has a small representation in the craft-beer market. Plus, with the hot and humid weather we have been experiencing, we need as many of these beers to keep ourselves hydrated and refreshed (wink, wink).

Please refer to the article of June 18 for the history of Dortmunder Lager.

Great Lakes Brewery, as I mentioned in previous articles, has an excellent portfolio year-round and seasonal beers, and they are one of the cutting-edge “green” breweries. They practice sustainable urban farming and recycling; use alternative fuels like vegetable oil made from reclaimed and filtered restaurant oil in their beer delivery truck and shuttle bus; reuse spent brewery grain; and the use of solar power and natural lighting at their facilities is also incorporated.

Dortmunder Gold is a heavily decorated beer in regard to awards, and it is available year-round. It has won the following: Gold Medal/World Champion of the World Beer Championships in 1994 through 1997; and Gold Medalist of the World Beer Championships 1998 through 2002 and 2006 through 2011, missing out in 2005. That is pretty darn consistent!

Proper serving temperature for this beer is 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit in a pilsner glass. Upon pouring into my Cubs pilsner glass, a two-finger depth of fluffy white head sits on top of a crystal-clear, deep-golden body. Not as many bubbles rushing to the top as the Dog Days, but still present — and this is a good-looking beer. The head dissipates to a very thin layer with some minimal lacing.

The aroma is well balanced with a pronounced grain character, toasty and faintly bready with a hint of a sweet fruit, along with some tartness, most likely the hops.

The first taste is amazing. It is crisp and refreshing, much like the smell, but much more robust. A hint of sweetness peeks out. The finish has some floral notes and a great aftertaste. I did not taste the lemon tartness that I thought I detected in the aroma, and it has a touch of dryness to it.

Mouth feel is almost perfect. Not too heavy for a lager, yet not too light and watery. Carbonated very well and goes down so damn easy, making this smooth and refreshing.

As I mentioned in the previous article on Dog Day, Dortmunders aren’t the easiest style to brew, but I believe Great Lakes hit this one out of the park. It’s not hard to understand why this is their flagship beer, an amazing lager from start to finish. Light, smooth and refreshing, with an almost 6 percent alcohol by volume, makes this very drinkable. This would be a great transition beer for your newbie friends. The name Dortmunder Gold is right on the mark.


Michael Sears is president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a homebrewing club dedicated to the art of finely crafted beer. The club meets the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Sreet. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at

From the July 2-8, 2014, issue

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