Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oshkosh Beer of the Week: 1853

To commemorate the passing of August Horn, I thought it would be fitting to single out a hometown beer that harkens back to the early days of brewing in Oshkosh. It’s a nice coincidence that Fratellos in Oshkosh is currently pouring just such a beer. 1853 is a dark lager that Fox River Brewing first brewed in 2003 to help celebrate Oshkosh’s sesquicentennial. Kevin Bowen, Brewmaster at Fox River Brewing, says the beer was “styled in the tradition of Wisconsin beers for the period.” And though this is a modern beer and not an attempt to re-create the beer of that time, it’s still probably not too far off in flavor and appearance from the sort of lager August Horn would have been drinking in Oshkosh in 1853.

1853 pours deep ruby unto black and if you stick your nose into it as soon as it’s tapped you’ll catch a surprising and wonderful hop aroma that drifts up and dissipates quickly. This is an easy drinking beer with the slight sweetness of Munich malt being the dominant flavor. Overall, it’s light-bodied and fairly crisp without any of the ragged edges of roasted malt that sometimes mar beers that are this mild and yet dark. The beer finishes clean with just a touch of residual bitterness. A few pints of this would go along perfectly with a big plate of nachos.

Our Man, August Horn
But if you really want to experience this beer in a way that truly celebrates 1853, there’s only one way to do it. You’ll need to resurrect the infamous Oshkosh growler. It’ll take a little work, but I’m certain the servers at Fratellos will understand exactly what it is you’re doing and will fully cooperate with your mission. Here’s how it’s done: First you have to find a half-gallon wooden bucket. Keep in mind, this thing needs to hold beer so it’s got to be water tight. I have no idea where you’ll find such a thing. OK, now that you’ve got your wooden bucket, find a quality lard and use it to grease down the inside walls of the bucket. This may sound gross and it is, but the lard will help to keep the beer from foaming up when it’s tapped and ensure that you’ll get your full measure of pure beer. Now if you really want to make it special, take your bucket of dark, oily beer and walk about a half-mile due north of Fratellos. Get onto the Wiouwash trail and when you see Riverside Cemetery cut across the creek. That’ll put you on Oak and if you follow that to Myrtle you'll be at the site of August Horn’s grave. It’s easy to find. There’s just one thing left to do. Raise your Oshkosh growler and have a good, long drink to our Dead Homie. Peace, bitches!

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