Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Beer of the Week, 99 posts of beer on the wall

It's a special time here at BOTB. The Beer of the Week has come early, and it's also the 100th post of the blog.

Obviously there is plenty of material contained within the first 99 posts, so you'll forgive me if I'm rather brief with this one.

Amber and I are off to Mexico for several days, and in honor of this fact, the beer of the week, and indeed the weekend, is Pacifico.

Pacifico is not so good as to justify a full review here, but needless to say, it's head and shoulders above Corona, Tecate, and Modelo. A smooth lager with a medium body, Pacifico goes down equally well on a hot southern beach, and in a Mexican joint on Milwaukee's south side.

Next time you're in the mood for some beer from south of the border, Bebe Pacifico!

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Beer of the Week

Located in Amhearst, Wisconsin, Central Waters Brewing has gone through many changes since its inception in 1998, including owners, brew kettles, and location, but the Oisconsing Red Ale has been there since the beginning.

Named for the Algonquin word for the Wisconsin River, this beer pours a ruby and amber color with a small white head. Subtle lacing appears, and the head refreshes itself after each sip.

The beer has a subtle nose, but it's there if you "look." There are notes of roasted malts, subtle caramel, and just a hint of flowery hops.

Oisconsing has a medium body, smooth and caramelly in the front, with biscuit and graham in the middle, with just a nick of hops on the back. It's a solid amber somewhere between a Fat Tire and an Oktoberfest style.

Owing to the medium body, relatively mild alcohol, and subtle hops, it's highly "sessionable." Although I have a bevy of delicious beers in my refrigerator at the moment, I find myself reaching for this one more than I expected. This is another quality outing from another one of Wisconsin's hidden gem microbreweries. Go Badgers!

Links of Interest:

Central Waters

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Don't Worry, Be Grumpy

Some of you out there in beerland are so into your hobby that you plan side-trips to brewpubs and breweries on your travels (or entire trips if you're die hard). In that spirit allow me to point out a charming destination in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin.

Mt. Horeb, affectionately known as the "Troll Capital of the World," a nod to the town's Norweigian heritage and Main Street which is lined with troll sculptures and nicknamed the "Trollway," is a classic Midwestern small town with a population of 5800. It lies about a 30 minute drive from the state capital, but is much further than that in terms of lifestyle.

The town's Main Street retains many original buildings, antique shops, a bakery, and most notably, the Mustard Museum.

Most beer lovers out there also carry an affinity for fine mustard, and as such, this is a required stop. The Mustard Museum features mustards displayed from around the world, and offers an equal sized gift shop where one can taste hundreds of mustards and of course purchase.

Right around the corner from the Mustard Museum is our featured attraction: The Grumpy Troll.

The Grumpy Troll was opened in 1996 in the former Mt. Horeb Creamery. The pub has 8 beers on tap including a wheat, an IPA, a Red Ale, and a Stout. The CCCP Stout and the Maggie IPA are the standouts in my opinion, but should you have trouble deciding, they sell a sampler featuring all 8 beers (plus a special brew if you're lukcy) in 4oz sample sizes.

The restaurant features a giant menu with plenty of dishes for the carnivore and vegitarian alike. The bratwurst is delicious and comes slathered in sauerkraut, accompanied, of course, by side of delicious mustard.

The Troll is a nice addition to the town's charming Main Street, and adds a destination for beer lovers and hungry townies and tourists. While the brewpub only has a few standouts, that's more than I can say for many brewpubs, and on the whole, it's well above average and worth visiting.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Beer of the Week

Ok, so I know that I've been letting the blog slide a little, but I'm getting it back on track. Without further ado...

There's been a delay on this, I realize, but loyal quaffers, it was worth the wait; this BOTW is one of the best beers I have ever had.

Wheat beers, whether the Belgian Wits or the Germans Weisses occupy a strange and delicious corner of the brewing world. Miles away in taste and appearance from the Belgian Ales and the German Lagers, wheat beers vary as much as their cousins, ranging from blond to brown, and from refreshing to rich.

The Bavarian wheat tradition in particular, is an interesting slice of brewing history. The first brewery established with the specific purpose of brewing wheat beer was built in the Bavarian village of Schwarzach around 1520. Ludwig X of Bavaria had granted Hans Sigismund of Degenberg, his official steward (also a Duke), the rights to produce wheat beer for the province.

In 1567 a law was passed banning the production of wheat beer, but the Degenbergs were grandfathered in. When the line of Degenbergs died out, Duke Maximillian gained their wheat beer rights. The law of 1567 was still in effect, though it was not enforced on the princes, making Maximillian's operation a wheat beer-opoly, and guaranteeing a steady revenue stream.

While here and there licenses were granted for local breweries to produce their own wheat beer (with a fee of course), it wasn't competition that brought down the wheat beer monopoly, it was fashion and technology.

In the mid-18th century the Munich dunkels & helles, as well as the Vienna lagers and Czech Pilsners came on the scene. The new lagering methods and brewing techniques allowed the easy production of high quality beers year round, and the thirsty drinkers of Prague, Vienna, & Munich gravitated to the delicious new pilsners and helles, as well as the recently perfected dunkels. Weissbier quickly became the beer of the upper-crust, and out of fashion.

As the market collapsed, Georg Schneider saw opportunity. With the Dukes losing incentive to protect their wheat beer rights, Schneider easily wrestled it away from them and set up weiss brewing of his own.

Schneider kept the style alive, and being the only weiss show in town, did quite well. Indeed, his relatives still operate the brewery baring his name to this day.

Schneider-Weisse produces a number of wheat beers including our BOTW, Schneider Aventius. Aventius is a Weizen-Bock, that is, a strong wheat. Also known as Weizenstarkbier, Aventius clocks in at 8.2% ABV, pretty serious for a wheat beer.

The beer pours a brown-ruby color, with a nice thick two-finger head.

It has an easily detectable nose with strains of yeast, vanilla and banana. The smells are sweet and much more penetrating than even other wheat brews.

The Aventius has a medium-heavy mouthfeel with yeast and wheat notes, sweet caramel malts and a crisp carbonated, though only slightly bitter finish, leading you back for more. Although the beer is 8.2%, the alcohol presence doesn't manifest until you've finished the bottle. This is, without a doubt, one of the premier wheat beers in the world. An appreciation of wheat beer without a sampling of this gem from an originator is an incomplete appreciation.

Highly Recommended.

Links of Interest (German):

Schneider-Weisse Aventius

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