Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hopfen und Malz, Gott erhalt’s!

We’re smack-dab in the middle of one of those transitional gaps in the beer drinking year. The Bock season is winding down, but it’s still a little too early and damp for the beers of summer. That’s good. It’s during these lulls that you usually find a few interesting oddballs drifting in. With that in mind, here’s a triad of recent arrivals on the Oshkosh beer scene that’ll confuse and amuse your taster in a most pleasing way.

Let’s start with the oddest of the bunch. New Glarus is calling their new Two Women Lager a “Classic County Lager”. What exactly that means is beyond me. There’s an educational spiel on the label that mentions Christ, Sumerian women and Norse society that further confused me, until I finally just gave up and drank it. Best idea I had all day. This is a strange, little beer and I like it. It pours to a clear, deep bronze with a clean, bready aroma and a first draw that’s surprisingly fruity. Reminded me more of an Altbier than a traditional lager, but the flavors come along so soft and round that it makes all those esters seem about right. It finishes with a dry, cookie-like bit of malt and an exceptionally clean hit of light bitterness. It’s a subtle beer; a brew you can pay no mind to and drink like mad, if you so choose, but if you show it some attention, the reward will be worth it.

Now to the deep end of the pool to greet an altogether different breed of New Glarus, a beer they’ve named IIPA. Meaning double IPA; or DIPA, as the knobs call it. Anyway, this Imperial India Pale Ale is the first release under New Glarus’ new Thumbprint Series of beers. Apparently they’ve ditched their “Unplugged” thing for a label featuring a Bunyanesque thumbprint shaped like Wisconsin. Unfortunately, my ADD (Alcohol Deficit Disorder) prohibits me from giving a shit. On to the beer! Whoa... This thing smells like they just pulled the hops out. It pours hazy and golden with an enormous aroma of citrus, passion fruit and pine. The first thing that came to mind after I’d made it part of my inner being is that this brew is like an amplified version of Moon Man blasting from an amp that goes to 11. The hop flavors are bright and clean right up to the point where the bitterness consumes everything in its path leaving your ruined mouth to pucker on the residue of syrupy malt. That said, I can’t imagine a hop lover not going for this beer. I also can’t imagine drinking more than one of them (and at 9% I probably wouldn’t anyway). And I pity the beer that follows it, because your palate is going to be too wrecked to taste it. Go to it hop fiends!

Our last ride on this wave to oblivion is a new seasonal offering from Big Sky Brewing. Heavy Horse Scotch Ale hit town a couple weeks ago and since we don’t seem to get a lot of Scotch Ale around here, I nabbed it straight off. It’s an almost 7% Wee Heavy that arrives deep brown and reeking of caramelized sugars and the sightly metallic aroma of roasted malt. This is a chewy, near-sweet beer with a pleasant depth of malt flavor, that gets cut too short by an overabundance of bitterness in the finish. On the other hand, that bitterness clarifies the palate and keeps you coming back for the next sip. Maybe it’s a little too wee to really be a Wee Heavy, but that’s being fussy. A good beer for any malt lover and a fine warmer on cool Spring evening.

All three of these brews can be found at Festival Foods in Oshkosh, but to get at the New Glarus IIPA, you’ll need to dig a little. They’ve got it hidden behind the last of the New Glarus Unplugged beers that they’re trying to move out. They like to make things difficult, don’t they? Ein Prosit!


  1. Man, what I would do for a few bottles of New Glarus way out here in Arizona...I can't wait to visit in July and bring some back with me.

  2. I got a four pack of the double ipa from new glarus. LOVE IT.

  3. Lee,

    I really enjoy this site. As a kid, I spent a lot of time in Oshkosh in the 1960s & 1970s. Your articles regarding the old Oshkosh & Peoples breweries bring back lots of memories, including numerous misguided exploratory trips into the vacant breweries. As a 14 year old, I even managed to convince the auction company to let me forage through the office files during the Peoples Brewing Co. liquidation sale.

    Your writing style is terrific. I'm not sure what you do for a living, but I sure hope it involves quite a bit of writing. Please keep up the good work.

    Brookfield, WI

  4. Dave, that's a great story! Thanks for reading the blog and thanks for sharing your memories of exploring the old breweries.