Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Burning River

The lyrics are haunting for someone born and raised in Cleveland ... "Cleveland, City of Magic; Cleveland, City of Light" ... even as melodic music plays in the background.  References to "magic" and "light" would make one think that the composer and singer is paying a tribute to Cleveland.  However, the composer is Randy Newman and the song is named "Burn On."  The tribute is to a travesty ... "burn on, big river, burn on."

The travesty was the Cuyahoga River catching fire in 1969.  The odd thing is that sight of a river catching fire was not uncommon.  According to Wikipedia, the Cuyahoga has caught fire approximately thirteen times since 1868.  The largest fire was not even the one in 1969.  Instead, a fire in 1952 caused over a million dollars of damage to boats and even a river-front building.

Yet, the burning of the Cuyahoga River in 1969 fire sparked a different kind of flame, which propelled the environmental movement.  People began to take notice and heed of the state of their rivers.  The Cuyahoga River, for example, was basically sludge, with all of the fish having been killed off in many parts of the crooked river.  That fire in 1969 was a catalyst for a lot of good things, such as the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The name, Burning River, also happens to be my favorite beer from Great Lakes Brewing Company, at least among its year around offerings.  Great Lakes Brewing is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, craft brewer in the State of Ohio.  For the longest time, it was the standard in craft brewing.  I used to visit Great Lakes whenever I was visited Cleveland.  (Admittedly, I do not get there as often as I used to, due to the proliferation of craft brewers like Fat Head's, The Brew Kettle and Market Garden.)

Great Lakes produces the Burning River with four malts and two hops. The malts are Harrington 2-Row base malt, Crystal 45, Crystal 77 and Biscuit malts.  The hops are Northern Brewer and Cascade hops. 

The Burning River is pours an amber orange color, reminiscent of the hues that could be seen in some fires.  The beer pours an off white foam that graces the top of the liquid.  The aroma is full of hops, which one expects from the Cascade hops.  Both the Northern Brewer and Cascade hops are clearly present in the taste, with the former providing a strong bitterness to the beer, while the latter adds a sense of grapefruit or other citrus to the taste. 

The brewers suggest that this beer is best paired with smoky red meats, as well as flavorful cheeses such as Stilton and other blue cheeses.  I think that the Burning River will go with most any red meat, and even poultry.  I did try the Great Lakes with a Rogue blue cheese and the pairing worked fairly well, much to my surprise.   

Great Lakes is increasing its distribution of its beers, which can be found from Chicago to Washington, D.C.  This beer sells for about $8.99 a six pack.  


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