Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wisconsin on Tap

As mentioned here, Amber and I recently went to a beerfest called Wisconsin on Tap in Wisconsin Dells. It was part of their “Harvest Fest,” and honestly, it would not have been worth it to venture up there if there weren’t 27 microbrewers to accompany the pumpkin painting, goat petting, and craft buying.

Overall, the beerfest was great. I thought the idea of a Wisconsin only fest was a good one, and there were breweries from all over the state, from Milwaukee to Superior. The lines were never long, the vendors were friendly, and in case of rain, the stands were all covered under a massive tent. There were also a mustard tasting as well as a cheese tasting, which were nice touches of Wisconsin culinary tradition, and a nice break from the suds as well (pacing oneself is key, people; chug in moderation).

As part of the beerfest, they passed out rating cards, so all participants could rate the brews available. It was a cool idea, but the cards did not include any of the special tappings, not to mention that the beers listed were often not the ones available, or the listed beers were assigned to the wrong brewery. Fortunately we were prepared with our own notebook to rate and remember the beers and breweries.

Before we give out the full list of our ratings, I wanted to talk stout before to prep our fine readers for our winner, our favorite beer of the fest: Delafield Brewhaus’ Czar’s Choice Bourbon Stout.

Russian or Imperial Stouts were first brewed in England, and featured a high alcohol and hops content to help preserve the beer for its long sea voyage to the Baltic. The style nearly died out after the Bolshevik revolution, when exporting to Russia halted and production was switched to the domestic market. The beer no longer matured in barrels along the voyage, instead being immediately thrust onto the market. Apparently this did little to advance the beer as a style, and it faded away until being picked up by Samuel Smith’s.

Delafield’s Czar is indeed a “beefed up” version of an English sweet stout, and is aged for 12 months in a barrel as well, in this case, a bourbon barrel. Now I don’t think that the original imperial stout had the lactose in it that Delafield’s does, but the brew had a heavy coating body, and was sweeter than most stouts, almost mimicking the sweetness one would find in a wheated bourbon like Maker’s Mark. The combination of the bourbon taste with the milk stout sweetness is what really set this brew apart for us. It was smooth and heavy, with a complexity added by the bourbon that would be impossible to replicate. This is not a beer one has with dinner; this is a beer one has as desert. Our congratulations go out to Delafield Brewhaus. They’re located about halfway between Madison and Milwaukee, right off of Interstate 94. If you’re in the neighborhood, pay them a visit. They may not have the Czar’s Choice, but there are plenty of other beers to quaff as well.

Now without further ado, here is a complete list of our rankings, with 5 being the most delicious, and 1 being stagnant pond water. Anything 3 and above is definitely worth trying. Cheers!

Links of Interest:
Delafield Brewhaus
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout
Ale Asylum
Moose Jaw Brewing
The Grumpy Troll

Delafield Brewhaus (Delafield) - Czar's Choice Bourbon Stout - 5

Ale Asylum (Madison) - Happy Ending Belgian - 4.5
Moose Jaw (Wisconsin Dells) - Dunkel Weizen - 4.5
Grumpy Troll (Mt. Horeb) - Spetsnaz "CCCP" Stout - 4.5

Ale Asylum (Madison) - English Porter - 4
Cross Plains Brewery (Cross Plains) - Esser's Best - 4

Great Dane (Madison) - Drop Anchor Steem - 3.5
Delafield Brewhaus (Delafield) - Oktoberfest - 3.5
Milwaukee Brewing (Milwaukee) - Pull Chain Pale Ale - 3.5
Cross Plains Brewery (Cross Plains) - Cross Plains Special - 3.5
JT Whitney's (Madison) - Heartland Weiss - 3.5
Furthermore Beer (Black River Falls) - Knot Stock Pale Ale - 3.5

Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee) - Bourbon Cherry - 3
Great Dane (Madison) - Oktoberfest - 3
Great Dane (Madison) - American Pale Ale - 3
Sand Creek (Black River Falls) - Cranberry Ale - 3
Sand Creek (Black River Falls) - Stout - 3
BluCreek Brewing (Madison) - Wild Blueberry Ale - 3
Milwaukee Brewing (Milwaukee) - Louie's Demise Ale - 3
Grumpy Troll (Mt. Horeb) - Oktoberfest - 3
Furthermore Beer (Black River Falls) - Proper English Ale - 3

Pangaea Brewing (Wisconsin Rapids) - Lilja's Wisconsin Heifer Weizen - 2.5
Thirsty Pagan (Superior) - Gicchi Gummi Golden - 2.5
JT Whitney's (Madison) - Badger Red Ale 2.5
Great Dane (Madison) - Pilsner - 2.5
Tyranena (Lake Mills) - Bourbon Barrel Ale - 2.5

Pangaea Brewing (Wisconsin Rapids) - Lilja's Pulling Boat Pale Ale - 2
Furthermore Beer (Black River Falls) - Fallen Apple - 2
Furthermore Beer (Black River Falls) - Three Feet Deep Stout - 2
Stone Cellar (Appleton) - Ankle Biter Amber - 2
Delafield Brewhaus (Delafield) - American Ale - 2

Minhas Craft Brewery (Monroe) - Mountain Creek - 1.5

Minhas Craft Brewery (Monroe) - Lazy Mutt Farmhouse Ale - 1
Stone Cellar (Appleton) - Vanilla Stout - 1

Digg this

No comments: