Dundee Honey Brown LagerBy
Silly me. I read the name of this beer and immediately jumped to the conclusion that Dundee Honey Brown was a Brown Ale with a touch of honey — a concept that seemed both blasphemous and dangerously intriguing.
But don’t let the “brown” part of the name fool you — Dundee Honey Brown tastes like a lager, through and through. That is, a lager with a generous dollop of honey.
You’d think that by this stage of the game, I’d be adept at reading beer labels; and yet, somehow I missed the “Lager brewed with pure honey” line written immediately below “Honey Brown”.
My first clue came when the beer poured a pale, honey-colored orange. But the real clincher came when my nose hovered above the glass — because Dundee Honey Brown smells like a fizzy lager, yeasty and malty, with very little character.
The beer did create a fluffy head, and the soft, honeyed-color was attractive; so my expectations rose a bit. But when it came to drinking the beer, I was surprised by how watery it seemed. The initial taste displayed little to steal my interest — it was weak, gently malty, with no apparent hops — and the blandness simply increased my impression of wateriness.
Don’t get me wrong, Dundee Honey Brown isn’t a complete loss! The weak lager taste grew sweeter throughout the swallow, finishing with a distinct taste of honey. It’s that sweet honey that defies expectations and improves an otherwise boring beer. Even the label seems to acknowledge this fact:
“What’s supposed to go in beer? German purity laws say you’re only allowed four ingredients. But this is America . . . the land of individualism, civil disobedience, and footballs that don’t roll like the rest of the world wants them to. So we decided that for Dundee Honey Brown we’d add a fifth — a touch of pure honey. Granted, that’s a recipe that’s a little different. But we figure you can be like everyone else or you can be yourself and drink something unique. Go ahead. Be different.”
Personally, I didn’t enjoy this beer very much, but Dundee is far from bad. Many of the lager-heads who stand by their mass-produced light beers (even those who would never drink the strong ales and dark stouts I so enjoy) could discover a new appreciation for taste and style in a beer like Dundee Honey Brown.
Dundee is owned by the High Falls Brewing Company of Rochester, NY. Though the light-hearted label text is quite new, Honey Brown has been a longtime favorite of High Falls’ Dundee line. Dundee Honey Brown used to be called “J.W. Dundee Honey Brown”, but the stodgy initials were dropped from the brand when Dundee’s packaging changed in 2008. The re-branding and new labels were intended to reflect a quirky, craft beer personality.
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