Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Beer vampires: Great Lakes Nosferatu is really well done

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

Greetings, my ghoulish beer geeks.

Friday night is All Hallows’ Eve, better known as Halloween. I have fond memories of a group of us kids trick or treating, staying out until we could barely carry our bags back home. Fast forward to when our own children were old enough to go trick or treating, my wife, Lisa, and I would accompany them, the kids would get candy, and some of our neighbors would offer us parents adult refreshments. It seemed to always be cold and/or rainy, so the libations were much appreciated. Nowadays, we are lucky to get 10 costumed visitors. I sure do miss those days.

In celebration of this dying tradition, I would like to feature a beer that screams Halloween, a seasonal offering named Nosferatu, Imperial Red Ale by Great Lakes Brewery.

Nosferatu is the vampire in an unauthorized film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula released in 1922. Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. One print survived, and the film has come to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema. To this day, I still get uneasy watching this silent classic.

As I have stated in earlier articles, Great Lakes Brewing Co., of Cleveland, is one of my favorite breweries. In addition to their excellent portfolio of year-round and seasonal beers, they utilize cutting-edge “green” technology.

A tulip glass for this tasting is in order, served at approximately 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit to get the full aroma and flavor. This beer pours a beautiful ruby red, dare I say blood red color, with a clear body and good initial carbonation throughout. An aggressive and thick two-fingered depth white head tops this, which eventually recedes to a thin layer, leaving a nice lacing on the glass, making this a very handsome beer, unlike its namesake.

The aroma is well balanced, an emphasis on caramel malt with a hint of bread and some dark fruit. The hop presence is strong, like grapefruit and pine resin and possibly a touch of floral. I also detect a bit of alcohol lurking in the background as well.

First taste is initially of caramel malt on the front end with some bready flavor, moving quite nicely to a citrus hop bite of grapefruit and orange, with some dark fruit presence. The malt comes back at the end, with a touch of the floral, spicy hoppiness. The flavors really pop, making this very clean-tasting … yum.

The mouth feel is medium and creamy, with a satisfying softness, and the carbonation keeping it crisp and refreshing at the end, much like a well-balanced IPA would be. Strange how quickly this one disappears after being poured into my glass. The 8 percent ABV is barely noticeable until the end, which makes my head a little light.

Overall, one of my favorite Great Lakes beers — and for good reason, because Nosferatu has a great flavor profile and is a really well-done beer. It is a great complement to the fall season. As the beer vampire I am, this is the perfect elixir to suck from the necks of bottles — or maybe a beautiful woman? (Insert maniacal laughter.)Try it if you get the chance!


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

From the Oct. 29-Nov. 4, 2014, issue

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