Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Oshkosh Beer Sampler 029: A Couple of Unique Beers at Fratellos

A slanted and endless survey of what’s pouring in Oshkosh, tallied one beer at a time.

What: Two ales from Fox River Brewing Company. A strong Belgian-Style Golden Ale named Triple-Double and 2010 English Mild, a traditional English Dark Mild.

Where: On tap at Fratellos Waterfront Restaurant & Brewery, 1501 Arboretum Dr. Oshkosh. 2010 English Mild is being poured only in the Fieldhouse at Fratellos.

Why: Because here are a couple of utterly unique beers that might change the way you look at our local brewpub. We’ll start with the big one.

Triple-Double is something of a hybrid beer melding together aspects of a Belgian Tripel and a Blonde Doppelbock. It starts with an intense malty/sweet aroma that’s complex but also exceptionally clean, with little of the phenolic esters you’d associate with a Belgian beer. The palate is dominated by sweet malts and candied sugars that obscure the significant bitterness hiding in the finish. It’s a full bodied beer to be sure, but considering its heft – just a whisper under 10% ABV – it’s an easy drinker. Take your time with this one, it’s a hell of a beer.

2010 English Mild is at the other end of the spectrum. This is a spot-on English Dark Mild Ale.  Traditionally this is a low-alcohol style brewed to be drank in volume. No problem there, this beer comes in at just 3.6% ABV. It pours out to dark ruby with a grainy, toasted malt aroma. It's light-bodied, but flavorful with threads of caramel, chocolate and a wee draft of tobacco. The beer finishes with an easy dryness that invites quaffing. Here’s the kicker: this beer has been aged for three years. I remember enjoying multiple pints from this same batch back in April of 2010. If anything, the flavors have improved (grown more integrated?), which is somewhat surprising for a beer so low in alcohol. Then again, the English were aging low alcohol beers two centuries ago with good results, so why should we be surprised? Raise a pint to the death of another Craft Beer myth.

One Last Thing: Next time you’re at Fratellos, check out the barrel aging program they have going. Brewmaster Kevin Bowen has two beers aging in zinfandel wine barrels positioned just outside the brewhouse. I’m sure there’ll be more on that here once they start pouring.

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