While I lament how Pete's Wicked Ale has fallen from grace, it reminds me how great the beers Pete's was having brewed in the early 1990's. Pete's Brewing had wild success with the Wicked Ale, and they decided to capitalize on this and offer a few more beer styles. Craft beer at the time was decidedly ale with maybe only the Sprecher Brewing Company of Milwaukee, WI and a scant few others craft brewers actually brewing lagers. Pete did offer a lager to compete against the main stream American light lagers, and that beer was Pete's Gold Coast Lager.
This beer was an all malt, clean and malty lager. Stylistically this one could be called a helles a classic Bavarian pale lager with balanced malt and hop character. In fact the new not so Wicked Pete's actually markets the current version of this beer as Pete's Wicked Helles, but like the Wicked Ale it is a shell of what the Gold Coast Lager was. Its funny but most beer lovers, even the ones who have been drinking craft for ages don't remember too much about this one. I certainly do.
One of the most memorable beer drinking experiences I had with this beer was actually tail gating at a concert. Myself, my brother, a good buddy of mine and his wife had went to see the Moody Blues and Chicago in concert at an outdoor venue. We had loaded up the cooler with craft beers, and my buddy, the storied and fabled Bruguru had brought the Pete's Gold Coast Lager. I remember drinking this one ice cold, and as it warmed, how clean, malty and flavorful this beer was. I could not stop drinking this stuff, and kept reaching for the Gold Coast. It had such great pale and crisp malt flavors, just the right amount of hop bite, and was so, so drinkable. It was a fantastic example of what a craft brewed lager was and should be. Something the Germans and the Czechs had known for centuries. This beer was an eye opener, and in that moment it made me appreciate what a great lager beer was all about. Pete's Gold Coast Lager will be burned in my memory for that fact, and I will always remember this beer as being a great one, and one that said to me, craft brewed American lager can be done.